The Lion's Tale

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Audiobooks are worth the listen

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From the moment we wake up to the second our heads hit the pillow at night, we rely on our eyes to observe and absorb information more than any other sense.  By the time we sit down to complete assigned school readings, our eyes are exhausted, worsening our visual processing and ability to physically focus on a line of text. This can be incredibly frustrating for those of us who enjoy cuddling up in bed and reading at night. It was for me, too, until I discovered the power of audiobooks.

Aside from resting our eyes after a long day of school, audiobooks elevate the reading experience to entirely new heights. They bring novels to life with the variety of dialects and tones available for narration. When I listen to an audiobook, I become engrossed in the story because I feel as though I am a fly on the wall, actually listening in on the characters’ conversations. Much like watching a film, hearing the underlying emotions in dialogue brings a new understanding of the book’s events.

While audiobooks are traditionally seen as just a resource for struggling students, they can benefit all readers. In an article for WETA’s reading blog, College of William & Mary Assistant Professor of Reading Education Denise Johnson argues that listening to an audiobook while following along with the text is the most effective method of retaining information. Visual and auditory processing are a dynamic duo because pairing them increases an individual’s processing speed significantly.

Johnson also mentions that audiobooks are great for introducing people to books that are slightly above their reading levels. I know from experience that it can be very challenging to read books written in Old English, Shakespearean English or other highly advanced writing styles.  Hearing the words of a book spoken aloud mitigates these unfamiliar dialects and accents.

Lastly, audiobooks are a lot more convenient than paper books, for both time and accessibility purposes. Instead of spending your time traveling to and from a bookstore, you can load audiobooks directly onto your phone or computer in a matter of minutes. Not only this, but audiobooks come in handy during long car rides or unbearable workouts, whereas paper books can cause nausea or be hard to travel with.

It’s true that it’s hard to replace the feeling of holding the pages of a book between your fingers, but I challenge you to take a break from reading, sit down and listen. With the push of a button, listening to extraordinary storytellers can bring your favorite (and even your least favorite) novels to life. You have nothing to lose; audiobooks are a great move for all.

This story was featured in the Volume 35, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 22, 2018.

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