Listen and Learn: The Benefits of Audiobooks

It’s tough to find a quality substitute for a good paperback book. But as a traveler, being able to take more books with you in either digital or audio form is a must. While I dream of one day having a sizable library on my retreat center property, I’ve learned that I can’t bring all of my favorite books with me everywhere I go. For this reason, I like to keep a few selections in digital form so that I can listen and learn on-the-go. In this article, I’m going to outline a few of the benefits of audiobooks.

If you prefer a good hardcover to audiobooks, don’t worry! I’m not offended. But don’t leave so quickly! I’ve got plenty of other content you might enjoy, including Book Reviews, Writing Tips, and My Books! If you’re looking for a freelance writer to contribute guest blogs or ongoing paid content, please read through my Services and shoot me an email detailing your project!

Faster Consumption

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - faster consumption

Although I’ve been experimenting with some speed reading techniques I outlined in one of my previous articles, I’m still a relatively slow consumer of books. I do like to take my time to make sure that I’m understanding and absorbing what I’m reading, but I find that my reading list grows frustratingly fast. At this rate, there’s no way I’ll ever get through my entire list in a single lifetime.

That is unless I start checking off some of them in audiobook form. Listening to books on tape allows you to consume them at a faster rate. This is especially beneficial if you’re reading a long book series where following the larger storyline is important. If you have to remember a detail from Book One when it’s revisited in Book Seven, for example, it’s going to be tough to do so if you read the first book several years ago. One of the benefits of audiobooks is that you’ll be able to move through your reading list at a quicker pace.

More Multi-Tasking

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - multi-tasking

I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty impossible to multi-task when I’m reading a book. I often sit down and start to read in the morning while my partner is making breakfast. Even her gentle movements in the kitchen behind me are often enough to distract me from what I’m trying to understand. When I try to read in this setting, I rarely get very far.

With an audiobook, however, you can listen to your latest selection while doing laundry, commuting to work, or gardening around your property. As we’ll talk about in the next benefit, our brains surprisingly retain much more audio content than we might imagine while we’re also performing other tasks. One of the benefits of audiobooks is that you can continue to get things done while listening to stories from your favorite authors.

Improved Reading Comprehension

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - improved comprehension

When conducting my research for this article, this was one of my most surprising finds. Studies have shown that listening to audiobooks can actually increase reading comprehension by as much as 76%. Among students surveyed, results also showed that students were able to comprehend audiobooks up to two grade levels above their current reading level.

The underlying reason for these results stems from the progression of our biological development. Listening is the first language skill that we develop when we are very young. We actually acquire much of our knowledge by simply listening to others and by listening to our environment. In fact, studies have suggested that 85% of what we learn is learned by listening!

Less ‘Summer Learning Slide’

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - less summer learning slide

Students of all grade levels experience this phenomenon to some extent. The ‘summer learning slide’ is the regression that happens from one school year to the next while we’re engaged in other summer activities. Getting most kids excited to read when the weather outside is at its best is a tall task. But listening to audio books might be the perfect solution.

Audiobooks are the perfect solution to keep students’ reading skills from regressing over the summer. In some cases, it can actually continue to improve those skills. Since listening is widely known to be the most effective way to grow vocabulary and fluency up until late middle school, finding a series of audio books for kids to listen to over the summer will not only keep them from getting bored, but it will also set them up for success when school resumes in the fall.

Increased Literacy

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - increased literacy

When my brother and I were young, my parents read stories to us on a daily basis. My Dad constantly tells stories about how we both started speaking before we were a year old and that it didn’t take us long after that to start stringing together full sentences. As an adult who has grown into an intense passion for reading and writing, I largely attribute this passion to the amount my parents read to us when we were young.

According to The Report of the Commission on Reading, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” In other words, listening helps students improve their reading ability. Studies have proven that listening to audiobooks can improve reading accuracy by as much as 52%. Additionally, because 27% of K-12 students are auditory learners, test scores have improved by as much as 21% when students are exposed to multi-modal learning (i.e. audio and visual) versus just being exposed to a single mode (i.e. audio only or visual only).

They Can Be Group Entertainment

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - group entertainment

In addition to all the individual benefits of audiobooks, there are also a few that can apply to group settings. If you’re lounging around with a group on a relaxing afternoon and looking for some entertainment, why not turn on an audiobook? They’re just as entertaining as turning on the television and, in many cases, they’re much more educational.

One of the fun parts of listening to audiobooks in a group is learning the other people’s senses of humor. What makes you giggle might not tickle the others, and vice versa. Once you’ve turned the book off for the day, it’ll also be insightful to talk about how the different members of your group visualized different scenes from the book. Our imaginations are incredible tools. And they are also muscles that should be flexed regularly. Keep in mind though, that our imaginations are all unique, and that this diversity is essential to our evolution.

They’re a Road Trip Remedy

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - road trip remedy

Even a good playlist can get stale on an especially long road trip. My partner and I love listening to podcasts while we drive, but there are only so many short stories out there and, sometimes, we don’t have the Internet to download new episodes when we’re on the go. In these instances, we really feel like we could use a more in-depth audiobook to keep us intrigued and entertained.

Audiobooks are a great way to dive into a new story and engage your imagination as you check off the miles from destination to destination. If you’re heading out for a road trip soon, take some time to download a few audiobooks to your phone or preferred device so that you’re ready when the moment arises.

They’re Relaxing

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - relaxing

Personally, I like to listen to meditations or talks on certain topics as I’m working. I find that having someone else’s voice in my head as I’m focusing on another task to be soothing. In some ways, it also helps to stimulate my creative energy. There’s also something about being read to that takes us back to childhood. If you’re driving, however, just be careful not to get too relaxed!

They’re Cost-Effective

Listen and Learn The Benefits of Audiobooks - cost effective

Audiobooks are generally much more affordable than their paperback or hardcover counterparts. I use Audible to find new audiobooks that I’m interested in. It makes it easy to download files to my phone or computer and save to listen when I’m ready. In addition, if you sign up for a 30-day Free Trial of Audible now, you can get two audiobooks for free.


Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Do You Enjoy the Benefits of Audiobooks?

Do you like to listen to audiobooks? If so, what was the last audiobook you listened to and where were you as you were listening?

As a published writer who aspires to create more works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in the years ahead, I’m constantly in search of new ideas that help me cultivate writing motivation and fine-tune my writing skills. I believe that reading and consuming the works of other writers is one of the best ways to improve those skills and stoke my inner fire. As such, I love to promote their work and I do receive a small commission on every purchase that is made through my site. These commissions allow me to continue to create useful content and resources for you!

Please leave a comment below if you are inspired, perplexed, saddened, or angered by any of the stories presented above. I welcome any and all comments and will do my best to respond hastily. I’d also encourage you to share this with others if you found it particularly insightful or helpful. Be sure to tag @ballisterwriting onFacebook or Instagram if you do!

Happy Reading!

Tucker Ballister

tucker@ballisterwriting.com

20 comments

  1. Cathy says:

    Just started on my audiobook subscription not too long ago and totally love it. My commute to work takes about 30 minutes to and fro, so that’s easily an hour that I could spend, complaining about the traffic or, make it productive by reading a book. Scribd was generous to give me a 60 days free trial (later extended to 90 days) for unlimited amount of book selection. I reckon that’s better than Audible. 

    I am currently listening to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell – and slowly understanding the intricate connection between our human minds and our behaviors. 

    • Tucker says:

      Wow! That Scribd promo seems like a great deal. I’m going to check that out for all of our spring travels. Thanks for the suggestion! It sounds like an awesome read, and very much aligned with the books I’ve been reading recently. 

  2. Linda says:

    Hi Tucker,

    As a life-long lover of the printed word, I found this post on the benefits of audiobooks to be intriguing. In general, I’m not an audiobook fan. The one exception is if I’m driving for an extended period and I’m alone in the car. In that situation, an audiobook can really help to pass the time. I think part of my aversion is that one can multi-task while listening. I have a tendency to become completely absorbed when I read and block out everything. 

    When it comes to the advantages of audiobooks for kids, I’m of two minds. I can see where they might encourage vocabulary development, and they would certainly have the edge over television or endless video games. But my concern is that excessive amounts of listening vs. reading would hinder the development of writing skills. 

    Today, my preference is an e-reader. You can store a lot of books in digital form. I love that I can borrow ebooks from the public library for free and have instant access. Thanks for an interesting and engaging read!

    • Tucker says:

      I love your point about over-use of audiobooks leading to the underdevelopment of writing skills. I’d love to see more research on that subject. I think it’s important to find a good balance between listening to audiobooks and reading paperback versions. This will develop auditory and motor skills in conjunction. 

  3. Ilaisaane Tuakalau says:

    Oh yeah! audiobooks! an old learning technique that will never go out of value, in my opinion. I grew up with no Television and the only way I got to listen to my favourite Pooh Bear stories was through the radio, which my parents had running the whole day, such great memories…absolutely wonderful article to remind us all of how important audibooks are. Next to reading, audiobooks is my next favourite. 

    You are right when you say it is great for multi-tasking because, it would help me if I could find some audio recipe books…sometimes flicking a page is not practical when I am following a recipe (especially with all the gooey mess on my hands), and watching a how-to video can be very annoying if it goes too fast and I lost the part that needed to pause (they still have not placed a good rewind button) and needless to say the annoying ads.

    Yes, I would prefer an audiobook any day, Tucker and if you can find me some great recipe audiobooks that would make it even more exceptional. 

    Thank you for a great article,

    Saane

  4. Ranao says:

    Though the concept of Audio-books seems fancy it is very familiar to us. In my childhood, we used to fall asleep after reading stories of fairy tales to grandparents. That was an early version of Audio-books. After reading this article, many of the benefits of using Audio-books were found. In particular, the line that I have been thinking about is listening to Audio-books can actually increase reading comprehension by as much as 76%.Civilization has progressed. We have to keep pace with the era.Thanks to Tucker Ballister, to highlight such an important issue.

    • Tucker says:

      Thanks for your comment! I like your thoughts on the progression of civilization and think that a healthy progression will always require humans with the capacity to listen to one another. That seems, to me, like what we’re lacking these days.

  5. Judy says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post on Audio books. I love reading but as I have aged my eyes no longer afford me the privilege of being able to consume so many books so audio books are a really good alternative and as you say it can be enjoyed while performing other tasks. There is nothing so boring as standing over an ironing board ironing hubbies shirts but with a good audio book it will be a task I will even look forward to. Hopefully I will not burn the shirts.

    I enjoyed your style of writing and being an ex teacher agreed with your philosophy on the benefits of reading.Edwards De Bono describes the 6 hats of learning and points out that we  each have a learning preference. 

    I was surprised at the figure of 76% increase in comprehension through listening rather than reading but it makes sense as some students will struggle of the pronunciation of a word and miss the meaning in context. 

    Thank you for sharing this information, it was brilliantly written and very thought provoking. 

    • Tucker says:

      Haha! Thanks for your comment. I’m sure there’s at least one extra shirt in the closet that could be a test subject as you get used to ironing and listening to your audiobooks at the same time! I will look into the 6 hats of learning from Edwards De Bono. It sounds really interesting. 

      I too was surprised by the 76-percent figure, but agree that hearing a word’s pronunciation is just as important (if not more so) than seeing it on paper. I suppose this is why we practiced “popcorn reading” in grade school!

  6. ecpags74 says:

    Tucker,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on the benefits of listening to audiobooks.  I always have a couple on my phone to listen to in my car when I am driving!

    I was very happy to read your statistics of how audiobooks can help children learn better.  I have a new grandson and I just recorded three Dr Seuss books for him to listen to when he’s a little older.  They aren’t professional audiobooks, but I think he’ll enjoy having his grandmother reading them to him.  I’m going to start on reading some older books for him.

    Your article was a terrific reminder of how important it is to keep reading and keep learning because there is so much out there.  

    Thanks,

    Ellen

    • Tucker says:

      I loved Dr. Seuss as a kid and still do! The Lorax is one of my all-time favorites! I also really like your idea of recording yourself reading your favorites. I’m going to steal that idea if you don’t mind. I think it’s so important to pass on our stories to future generations! 

  7. Kyle Ann Percival says:

    Hi Tucker!

    Thanks for a positive article that points out the great benefits of audiobooks, and backs it up with the statistics from the Report of the Commission on Reading. 

    I knew that I personally got greater enjoyment from listening to an audiobook due to the vocal tone or inflection added by the reader’s voice. But I had no idea that reading comprehension was actually increased through listening!

    I started listening to audiobooks years ago when I was very ill with cancer and spent many hours each day in bed. It was a great distraction from my personal situation and helped me keep my spirits up during a very trying time in my life. Now that I have recovered the habit of listening to audiobooks stayed with me for several of the reasons you mentioned, such as multi-tasking, traveling and relaxation.

    Now that you have pointed out the additional benefits I’m going to suggest audiobooks to my grandchildren, especially over their summer break from school.

    I enjoyed your article very much, and look forward to reading more contributions from you. Thanks again!

    • Tucker says:

      I’m really glad you enjoyed the article! I always had an affinity for reading as a young child, but I think this is because my parents read to us from a very young age. I think it’s good for parents (and grandparents) to know that there are multiple options out there to engage children’s imaginations and, in this case, increase their reading proficiency. I’m sure you’ll find some audiobooks that your grandchildren will love! 

  8. Bex says:

    I really appreciate that you are promoting audiobooks.  I have an account for audio books online and get two choices per month.  I work as a story artist and content creator and when I am drawing or organising images, I play my audiobooks and love the fact that I can absorb fiction of self help books while I am being productive.  They are a great alternative too when I am puttering around getting the daily tasks completed or in the car driving.  I think audiobooks are of great value to anyone’ s life and I think you dialled in one very solid post here!  Sincerest thanks and all the best!

    • Tucker says:

      Thanks for the positive feedback! I’m happy to hear that you find the benefits of audiobooks in your daily life. What is the latest audiobook you’ve been listening to? And do you find that you listen to one at a time? Or do you have multiple going? 

  9. alexandra says:

    This is a really good list of why you should use audiobooks. I can relate to the part where you were talking about traveling. I had to travel across the world for school and ended up with nothing but books in my luggage and pretty much only the clothes on my body. Needless to say, that I should have turned to either audiobooks or online books. I always listen to audiobooks when I am out walking or doing my shopping. 

    • Tucker says:

      I can relate! I always carry too many books with me when I travel. I’m the guy that brings a 300-page novel on a multi-day backpacking trip (what else am I supposed to do in camp?). I’ve been resisting the urge to get a Kindle Unlimited account for some time, but love listening to my favorite stories! 

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