Can Audiobooks Improve Vocabulary in Children

Headphones covering book to represent audiobook

Audiobooks and vocabulary

My kids love books. No, I mean it…they love books!

I had read in online forums people raving about audiobooks. I was hesitant, though, to give them a chance. We are a very screen-lite and electronics-lite family and I had the misconception that audiobooks would somehow draw my children’s attention away from reading and wanting to be read to.

Not only was I completely wrong on that point, but when we finally decided to give them a try, I discovered for myself what many already knew…the link between audiobooks and vocabulary!

You see, I’m a stay-at-home, Montessori homeschooling parent. At the time I decided to give audiobooks a try, my youngest was just a couple moths old and my other two children were 20 months and 4 years old.

So, needless to say, we weren’t getting out much. The only vocabulary they were hearing was from myself and my husband and from the books we were reading, which seemed like plenty.

It was plenty! We have always engaged in activities that encourage speech development.

The recommended “words per day” a child should hear in their early years is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000. They were definitely meeting their word quota, but I was about to find out how audiobooks can cause major language explosions!

Can audiobooks help you child with specch link

Why audiobooks are good for kids

If you’ve ever watched the movies “Frozen” or “Finding Nemo” (I’m using these as examples, as they were the first two audiobooks we purchased.), you have seen the beautiful imagery and themes in the movies. Now, imagine that imagery being read out loud without a screen.

Children’s audiobooks aren’t simply readings of the movie scripts. Every event that occurs on the screen in the movie is read in rich, descriptive language.

This descriptive language is so enriching for a child’s vocabulary.

The narrators of these audiobooks use dramatic enhancements and different tones in their voices. This draws a child’s attention to the story. No screen needed!

The first time I played “Finding Nemo” on Audible, my 4 year old sat in one of her little chairs, covered up with a blanket, and sat there for the entirety of the reading, just listening. My 1.5 year old jumped around excitedly at the talk of the ocean and its creatures, repeating what he was hearing (early talker) and asking questions.

He even ran to the bookshelf and found our Eyewitness encyclopedia book on fish and started thumbing through it, excited to find pictures of the things he was hearing about!

Both children asked to listen to “Finding Nemo” again and again!

Their language changed dramatically over the course of just a few weeks of repeatedly listening to this same audiobook. They started using the descriptive language they were hearing in their everyday lives.

It was amazing!

It’s been over two years now that we’ve been listening to audiobooks. My son is now almost 4 and is a dinosaur fanatic.

He enjoys playing with his dinosaur figurines while listening to “Dinosaurs”, by Jen Green, on Audible. He also loves to listen to “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” while following along with the book.

My daughter still enjoys “Frozen”, but she’s found some other great audiobooks, as well.

Not only are audiobooks great for improving a child’s vocabulary, but there are other benefits, as well!

Alexa device for playing audiobooks

Audiobooks and reading

Not only is there a link between audiobooks and improved vocabulary in children, but they can actually be useful for helping children to read!

This might seem counterintuitive to many, but it’s true!

Audiobooks help children develop listening skills, introduce children to material above their current level of reading, and introduce children to different literary styles. They also give children the chance to hear books read aloud by incredibly talented storytellers!

Are audiobooks worth it?

100% absolutely! Listen to an audiobook with your child. Not only does the language in the stories improve your child’s vocabulary, but they provide opportunities for conversation between you and your child. Listen with your child and discuss the topics.

All books, not just audiobooks, provide opportunities to discuss topics that everyday life often does not. Audiobooks, though, can be played while you are engaged in other tasks while you and your child listen.

We have a subscription to Audible and we couldn’t be happier with it. We definitely feel that it’s worth the cost.

We also take advantage of free audiobooks from our local library. These provide us with opportunities to listen to and discuss the content of the stories while we are in the car running errands.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope you decide to give audiobooks a try! If you do decide to, or you already listen to audiobooks, leave a comment below and share your experience!

Cheers and don’t forget to subscribe!

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15 thoughts on “Can Audiobooks Improve Vocabulary in Children”

  1. I enjoy audiobooks myself, but I’ve never thought of having my kids listen to them. I’m wondering now if they would help my speech delayed toddler.

    Thank you for this article!

    1. You will have to discuss any concerns of a speech delay with your pediatrician, but giving audiobooks a try won’t hurt!

      They give so many opportunities for conversation, which can definitely help with speech development!

  2. What a great idea! I dont like audiobooks, because I prefer the smell of a good book and the feel of the pages. I can’t read on my Kindle. I need an actual book… but my kids LOVE being read to. Dont know why I never thought about this before. I’ll try it tonight!

  3. Pingback: Television and Your Child's Brain — The Montessori-Minded Mom

  4. I’m a homeschooling mom as well! My daughter loves audio books, but I never thought to try them for my son who has a bit of a speech delay. I will give this a try! Thank you for the helpful information!

  5. I’ve been a lifelong bookworm, and as a busy mom of three littles, audiobooks are about the only way I can get my own reading time in these days! My oldest is my only independent reader, and while she’s obsessed with reading any and everything, I’ve gotten her into audiobooks recently as well! We check ours out for free through the local library. I actually felt guilty about letting her listen to an audiobook over reading a few times, but this definitely changes my perspective. Thank you!

    1. Yes! Libraries are great for free audiobooks! And I felt a bit weird about letting my early reader listen to them. They have definitely not replaced her interest in reading!

  6. Oh wow! I am so happy that I came across your page, especially since I have an almost 14 month old. I’ve already started doing sign language with him, but want to start incorporating more activities that help develop his speech. I’m curious about the Montessori homeschooling as well. Great blog and post!!!

    1. I wish I done sign language with my kids! I think it would have helped us through the young-toddler stage. I have a course coming up in the spring for Montessori Homeschooling, so subscribe for updates if you are interested! Also, this blog is full of articles that can help you get started!

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