We launch new research supported by Audible which shows a quarter of children are tuning in to audiobooks

15 Jul 2021
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We’re delighted to launch new research today which shows 1 in 4 (25.4%) children and young people are listening to audiobooks, with many new listeners tuning in during lockdown. We’d like to thank Audible for supporting this research.

After a year of national lockdowns and school closures as a result of COVID-19, we found that 1 in 10 (9.3%) children and young people downloaded an audiobook for the first time, and a further 1 in 10 (9.6%) downloaded more audiobooks.

The survey of 8 to 18-year-olds showed almost half (48.7%) of children and young people listened to some form of audio in the last year. 1 in 4 (23.3%) listen to just podcasts, in addition to the additional 1 in 4 who listen to audiobooks or audiobooks with podcasts.

Many of the children and young people we surveyed recognised the power of listening, with 2 in 5 (40.3%) agreeing that they use their imagination more when listening to stories than when watching videos.

1 in 5 children and young people said that listening to an audiobook or podcast got them interested in reading books and what’s more, 2 in 5 (43.1%) children and young people agree that listening to audiobooks helps them understand a subject.

Audiobooks can also break some of the barriers to reading for reluctant readers, with a smaller gender gap in listening enjoyment compared to reading.

Boys have the lowest levels of reading enjoyment rates (45.6%) compared to girls (55.9%) and those who self-describe their gender as other than boy or girl (60.7%). However, when it comes to listening, boys are more likely than girls, and almost as likely as those who self-describe their gender as other than boy or girl, to say they enjoy listening (45.9% vs. 41.8% and 48.0%).

The new findings complement our research into audiobooks last year, where we found audiobooks can engage reluctant, struggling and developing readers.

Audio allows children and young people to access a wide range of stories, and listen to stories beyond their reading level. It presents a brilliant opportunity to educators and parents.

Since the start of the pandemic, when schools and libraries closed, we have been exploring the benefits of audiobooks for children and young people. We know that audiobooks, which many access for free online, have provided a lifeline to countless children and young people. Last year’s research showed us that audiobooks can encourage positive literacy behaviours, which is immensely encouraging considering the boom in new listeners over the last year. It is clear this is an area that warrants further exploration and research, both here at the National Literacy Trust and in homes and classrooms across the country.

Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust

We are delighted to support this research from the National Literacy Trust. At Audible, we know the power of the spoken word in enchanting and engaging readers of all ages. The last year and a half have been exceptionally turbulent for children and young people and we are so glad audio has provided interest and enjoyment, all while boosting literacy.

Kevin Addley, VP, Country Manager at Audible