Children and audio - what’s out there and what are the benefits?

Children and audio - what’s out there and what are the benefits?

We spoke here about the audiobook market and whether it’s worth making the push into audio, but where do children fit into this? Is it good for children to listen to books instead of reading them? Who are the key players in the market?

Two industry experts, Zebralution’s Carla Herbertson and Bookwire’s Videl Bar-Kar spoke at the IPG Spring Conference about the future of audio and where children come into the picture. The children’s audio market is significant and growing. One of the many benefits of audio is the resurgence of backlist titles and the ability to listen to stories on repeat. This is particularly valuable for children who love listening to the same story again and again, and can come as quite a relief for parents! Audiobooks can entertain children for hours and there are lots of opportunities within the market. Bookwire, for example, has developed the “Odyssey” voice assistant, a virtual adviser that recommends the right audiobooks to users. There’s a lot to experiment with and Bar-Kar encouraged publishers to think creatively about all the different ways you can get content across to children.

Audiobooks are not just a great way to entertain children, they are also proven to improve children’s literacy skills, enjoyment of reading and emotional intelligence. According to the National Literacy Trust, 1 in 2 children and young people say that listening to audiobooks has increased their interest in reading and 70.8% said that audiobooks helped them use their imagination more than watching videos. But perhaps most importantly, 1 in 3 children said that listening to audiobooks actually makes them feel better.

We spoke to Katie Sparks, Co-Founder of Cloudaloud UK, about why she thinks audiobooks are so important for children:

“They’re wonderful resources, not only for dyslexic children or reluctant readers, but for building vocabulary and strengthening focus and comprehension in all children. The most wonderful thing about audiobooks, from an early childhood development standpoint, is that young children can listen alone to a story and then communicate that story to someone else. My daughter did this from about the age of three; she loved listening to an audiobook and drawing a picture of what she heard, then telling me the story! It really boosted her confidence in her own creativity and verbal acuity.
Like all stories, audiobooks offer an escape, but unlike video and/or conventional screen time they require focus and engagement, which helps battle anxiety, loneliness, etc. Audiobooks were a revelation for many parents who had to work during lockdown with kids at home, and were battling the twin beasts of telly and boredom. There’s no substitute for a parent reading to their child, but when time isn’t on the parent’s side, audiobooks are a wonderful alternative. Older kids (and adults!) like to be read to as well, and the rise in audiobook popularity is proof!”

Where to begin?

There are a number of fantastic ways to get your children started with audiobooks:

This is an exciting and growing market, with lots of scope for creativity and opportunities to help children!

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