Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Audio Books

Since I am such a fan of books on CD, I was happy to read local teacher and columnist, Kay McSpadden, tout the merits of audio-books in the Charlotte Observer on August 11. As readers of this blog know, I'm a big advocate of reading books this way—since (unfortunately!) my time seems too limited to be able to sit down and read--as much as I love books. After McSpadden heard Jim Dale, the actor who has read all seven of the Harry Potter books for audio-books read, she wrote:

"…Before they are readers, all children learn by listening, and audio-books such as the ones narrated by Jim Dale can be a gateway to literacy. Granted, Jim Dale is a talented impersonator and mimic who has spent great care making each character's voice in the Harry Potter books distinct, and the Harry Potter books are so compelling that most fans read them more than once. But even an average parent reading a simple bedtime story aloud is giving her child practice in listening, memory, vocabulary, and imagination--skills that lead to fluency in reading later on."

Her column went on to discuss how TV watching has replaced reading and imaginary play—both so necessary to creative childhood development. She quoted a University of Washington study which indicated that, "For every hour per day spent watching videos targeted to them, babies had six to eight fewer words than babies who did not watch the videos."

She went on to say that many students who are considered reluctant readers might be hooked into reading by first listening to a story. Storytelling has been around since time began and well told stories, as McFadden concludes, speak to us all.

And speaking of audio-books…I look forward to telling you all about my latest great read: Peter Pan in Scarlet.

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