I’ve got a cure for the reading comprehension blues. Your kids are going to listen their way to improved test scores, and it all starts with Amazon.
Amazon has found another way to embed itself in our daily lives – and I love it. Sound too good to be true? My daughter Emily, an avid reader herself, has found a way to make reading aloud happen even when mom and dad can’t. I often found her, as a child, under her blankets, flashlight in hand, long after I called for lights out. She just wanted more story time. Now she wants her kids to enjoy the same pleasure of stories. So to make sure it happens even when mom and dad can’t be there to read, she’s gone tech!
- Emily has two kids, a 10-year-old and a 3-year-old. Both have an Echo Dot in their bedroom (the $30 version), each one linked to an Audible app. One child is on mom’s account. One is on grandma’s account.
- Mom goes to Audible.com and purchases books for the kids using her monthly credits. Or if there are no credits left, she purchases the audio books.
- She chooses books that are just above each child’s current reading and vocabulary level. Yes, above.
- The 3-year-old has books like; Frog and Toad, The Mouse and Motorcycle, and Mr. Putter and Tabby. The 10-year-old has books like; The Indian in the Cupboard, Holes, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, along with several Harry Potter books.
- At bedtime, the kids are ready and in bed. For the 3-year-old, mom says; “Alexa, play Frog and Toad from Audible.” Alexa acknowledges her. Then mom says, “Alexa, set sleep timer for 20 minutes.” Alexa acknowledges her request. The story starts. The sleep timer is on. Imagination takes flight.
- Bedtime for 10-year-old is almost the same, but he tells Alexa what he wants to hear. He has available book titles written on a white board in his room. He scans the options and says, “Alexa, play Bridge to Terabithia from Audible.” “Alexa, set sleep timer for 30 minutes.” (or he can say, read two chapters, etc.) He settles in and lets the listening, visualizing and imagining happen.
Here’s What Happening:
I can name plenty of text book reasons for why this is good for kids, but instead, I asked Emily what she’s noticed in her kids. The most visible impact is in her 10-year-old. She said; “Reading comprehension is NOT A STRUGGLE ANYMORE!!”
Her son is a visual learner with ADD and, reading comprehension has always been a hard area for him. But now in 5th grade, he’s getting great scores on his classroom work and consistently gets 100% on his vocabulary tests, another refreshing change. Even his standardized test scores have increased significantly. And she credits it to consistently listening to stories.
My daughter said she felt her 10-year-old has learned the ebb and flow of stories. He recognizes there’s a beginning, middle and end. There are dramatic events, conflicts and resolutions. Understanding the story arc helps him pay attention to the characters, setting and story events. He’s become a better listener; his auditory processing has improved along with his vocabulary. And he’s happy.
Here’s Why it Works:
The reason this works so well is all about how the brain is wired. Visual kids think in pictures and, listening to stories lets them ‘see’ what they’re reading. Because written words are not their primary way of thinking, they can struggle so much while reading, they lose track of what they’re reading. Listening allows them to follow along and actually hear the story, complete with the pictures they imagine. And the more kids read, the more neurons their brain grows and connects.
Spoken language is limited to our everyday language. Written language contains a much broader range of vocabulary. When your child is listening to books above their current reading level, they’re introduced to vocabulary words they may not come across otherwise. Hearing the words in context and with inflection helps them understand meaning. All this while enjoying a good story.
Visual kids have such a craving to use their imaginations. The hunger is always there. When they’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night there’s a lot of left-over chatter from the day, all fighting for attention. It’s hard to quiet down in order to sleep. But listening to a story, gives the mind a place to focus and something to enjoy, so it can let the busyness of the day fade away. It’s well accepted that reading aloud to kids has enormous benefits, especially improved vocabulary and reading comprehension. The benefits are so enormous, and this is so easy, I hope you’ll have your kids listening their way to better sleep and a bigger brain very soon.
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