Read-to-me books: 3 first reactions, 3 lessons learned

by On July 8, 2013 in General

I’ll confess. When it comes to change, I’m sometimes stubborn.

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For example, I held onto a “print books only” mentality for a very long time when it came to reading to our little girl. Participating as a Bookboard beta testing family helped open my mind to e-books. So did seeing our daughter read for the first time using Bookboard! Today, personal books, library books and Bookboard are all reading staples in our house.

Yet when Bookboard recently announced their new read-to-me audio feature for over 100 titles, I felt resistant to change again. My three knee-jerk reactions were quickly followed by three lessons learned:


Reaction #1: “Audio features are nice but won’t help her read!”

Sure, I understood the benefits of parents reading to children, but having a narrator read to my kid seemed different. How would passive listening to an audio book support our daughter’s reading efforts?

Lesson learned:? It turns out there’s plenty of research documenting the benefits of audio books for supporting beginning readers (click here for a helpful review). For example, I learned that audio books could:

  • Serve as models of verbal fluency
  • Increase children’s vocabularies
  • Help readers understand narrative structures
  • Support active listening skills
  • Increase a child’s enjoyment of books
  • Motivate all readers, including struggling or reluctant readers

As we explored Bookboard’s audio books, we also saw the experience wasn’t passive. Hope had to select the text for audio to play, which encouraged her to more actively follow the narrative, connecting spoken and written words.


Reaction #2: The “narrators will have cloying voices!”

Voices from kids’ shows, audio books, toys and games can drive parents bats. (I’m looking at you, Caillou and Dora!). I worried that Bookboard narration might grate as well.

Lesson learned:?Not all audio is created equal! Our family was very pleasantly surprised by the variety of reading styles and narrators on Bookboard. It’s fun to hear someone else read a favorite book, and it also keeps things fresh.


Reaction #3: “So much for parent/child bonding over books!”

I wondered: would Hope choose audio books over reading with mommy and daddy? Would we use Bookboard as a babysitter now so we could make dinner or pay bills?

Lesson learned:??It’s always about finding balance. Hope has used audio books to read independently and with a school buddy. She still wants us to read her bedtime stories and we do. We also sometimes choose audio books as a family experience. Just last night when I had a sore throat, I was grateful to snuggle up with Hope and, together, listen to audio books.

As to occasionally using Bookboard as a babysitter, I say no more guilt! Parents sometimes need the extra time and help. When we do, it’s great knowing our kids are reading or listening to a good book.




Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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