Today we published new research that, for the first time, shows year-on-year changes in children and young people's listening habits. Following our first review on audio in 2020, this report builds on findings from our 2021 and 2022 Annual Literacy Surveys and found that in 2023, there was a slight increase in enjoyment of listening to audio from from 2022 (37.5%) but still lower than 2021 (43.8%).
Also for the first time this year, we asked children and young people whether they enjoyed hearing stories in formats including but not limited to audio, such as being told to them by teachers, parents or carers or friends, and found that over half did so. This wasn't limited to younger readers: while highest for those aged 8 to 11 (69.3%), around 46% of those aged 11 to 14 and 14 to 16 enjoyed hearing stories, increasing to over half of those aged 16 to 18.
Lastly, we looked at the relationship between confidence (those children and young people who thought they were good at listening) and enjoyment, and found that the two are related, with more of those who enjoyed listening saying that they were good listeners compared with those who did not enjoy listening. Some of the biggest differences were for those in receipt of Free School Meals, who also showed the lowest levels of listening confidence overall.
Too often, listening is characterised as a deficit behaviour defined by children sitting still and not talking or disrupting a lesson or by paying attention to instructions. However, listening to audio is so much more and, as outlined here and previously, has many additional benefits. Here we explore how those benefits might include building and supporting active listening skills and confidence.Emily Best, report author
At a time where reading enjoyment is at an all-time low, it is encouraging to see that many children and young people are finding joy in hearing stories and listening to audio, and that this can support confidence and positive behaviours in other areas of literacy.
As we approach National Storytelling Week 2024 our resources and insight in these areas can help teachers and educators in using audio and listening as a way into stories.