Audiobooks and literacy

Audiobook sales are growing rapidly. They are predicted to overtake sales of ebooks in 2020, and in the last year alone, their popularity amongst children increased by 138%.

Now, research shows that audiobooks can be used to support children’s learning.

Our research review found that audiobooks can:

  • Improve children’s reading skills and enjoyment of reading
  • Support children’s emotional intelligence and mental wellbeing
  • Improve children’s reading comprehension
  • Widen children’s access to books

Our latest research exploring children and young people's engagement with audiobooks before and during the COVID-19 lockdown found that:

  • Half of young people say that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading
  • 2 in 5 young people say that listening to audiobooks has made them more interested in writing
  • Nearly a quarter of young people have listened to audiobooks more during lockdown
  • Nearly a third of young people said that listening to audiobooks made them feel better during lockdown

Audiobooks also have significant benefits for children who are reluctant or struggling readers. They give them access to stories which they may not have been able to read in print.

Audiobooks even have benefits for families where parents may not be confident readers, meaning that family story time is still accessible to all.

The rise of smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home has made the sharing of stories easier, with many services now launching storytelling apps.

Resources

We have launched brand new resources for parents and schools to help explore the world of audiobooks.

  • Girl listening to audiobook

    Audiobooks resource for teachers

    Top tips to help teachers make the most of audiobooks to support children’s literacy in the classroom.
    Download now
  • audiobooks image Hig res.jpg

    Audiobooks resource for parents

    You can listen to audiobooks almost anytime and anywhere as a family - try these top tips!
    Download now
  • Behind the cover logo.jpg

    Behind the Cover audiobook club

    Sign-up for our free audiobook club in partnership with Lancôme.
    Learn more

Programmes

We’ve been working with partners including Audible, Penguin Random House, National Prison Radio and Fun Kids to include audio elements in many of our projects.

  • Puffin World of Stories

    Puffin World of Stories

    Audiobooks are a key part of our Puffin World of Stories programme.
    Learn more
  • Barbican - Young Writers Poetry

    Young City Poets

    Audiobook poetry anthologies are created by young people as part of our Young City Poets programme.
    Learn more
  • Books Unlocked

    Criminal justice

    We’re using audio across our criminal justice programmes, including serialising novels on National Prison Radio, setting up audio corners and training young people how to create podcasts.
    Learn more

Research

Explore our research on children and young's peoples engagement with audiobooks.

  • Audiobooks and literacy review

    This literature review provides an overview of research exploring the role of audiobooks in supporting children’s literacy both at home and in the classroom.
    Learn more