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Using Audiobooks for High Schooler?


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I tried to search this but couldn’t find anything, so sorry if it’s been asked and answered before. 

I’m wondering about using audiobooks for a high schooler for his school reading. My rising 9th grader greatly prefers audiobooks over reading. I have a strong bias against audiobooks, I will admit. I tend to be a little bit of a snob about it where I feel like “it’s not really reading”. I think that is because I am personally way more of a visual learner. I would always choose a book over a lecture in order to learn. So audiobooks have always seemed to me to be somehow lesser, probably because I don’t retain information from them as well. I admit my bias fully and realize that it’s not really fair. 

Ds would be happy if I let him listen to all assigned reading instead of requiring him to read the print. He can read well and I don’t think he has any kind of reading learning disability. He definitely is a more auditory and kinetic learner. He listens to Ted talks and various Podcasts all the time and retains a fair amount of information. He likes to draw or do something with his hands while he listens. He does has ADHD and I think that is part of the issue. He gets bored and distracted while reading and is a very slow reader most of the time. Occasionally he’ll find a book that grabs him an he’ll devour it, but that is rare. 

On the one hand, I want him to have a successful 9th grade year and I know if he can listen to books we can cover a lot more material without it being torture for him. On the other hand, part of me feels like this is cheating. (I think that’s just my bias...?) 

Anyone used audiobooks primarily with a high schooler? 

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My kid vastly prefers to listen while reading if the text is difficult. So for Homer for example, he said listening and reading simultaneously greatly improved his comprehension of the text. He doesn’t do that with every book, but certainly dense ancient texts.

 So maybe that’s the compromise to strike? He could listen while reading. 

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Agreeing with Roadrunner-- one of mine did much better listening while following along with the Iliad. He used this one read by Derek Jacobi.  Much better for him.  Comprehension and attitude improved greatly. 🙂

He also enjoyed listening to Seamus Heaney read bits of Beowulf--- https://archive.org/details/BEOWULFREADBYSEAMUSHEANY

And a good audio of Shakespeare makes a difference, too.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkangel_Shakespeare

Edited by Zoo Keeper
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Audiobooks are great! Many of the students in my high school Lit. & Writing co-op classes tell me that they find it much easier to dig deeper into the Literature when they listen and follow along in the book and can make annotations as they listen. And those with attention or processing issues, dyslexia, or other issues find that they can use "fidgets", make sketch notes, or do whatever helps them maintain focus when they listen.

With homeschooling my own 2 DSs, we did a ton of our high school literature as read-alouds buddy-style ("you read a page, I read a page") which allowed us to learn vocabulary in context, and to discuss "in the moment" as we saw things in the work (as well as discussing after reading a section).


If worried that audiobooks are somehow a "crutch", perhaps try a mix of print books and audiobooks, as well as print books read aloud/discussed together, and see how that goes.

Edited by Lori D.
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I used audiobooks for graduate school! I was juggling school and multiple small children, audiobooks were the only way to get all the reading done. I wasn't the only one in class using audiobooks and the professors had no objection.

I do not in any way see audiobooks as cheating, they're just a different way of accessing information. 

The only downside is not being able to take notes in the margins.

Edited by maize
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12 minutes ago, Farrar said:

We use them. I make my kids read some things. But for longer books, audio or not - it's up to them. It's their time.

This is us.  I do make them read their literature assignments up to about high school in order to build their reading skill.  After that  I am flexible.  My first listened to a few, but reading was faster.  Dd never listens to audiobooks. Ds2 does about 80% on audio.  He is slightly dyslexic, and he likes the fact that he can listen during his runs.  I do want him reading the other 20%,  but I am happy with his ability to analyze and discuss from audio books.

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Thanks everyone! I found that as I wrote out my question I kind of reassured myself. 🤣 I don’t know if that happens to anyone else here, but it’s often the case for me. It’s like the act of processing the question or issue by writing it out then helps me figure it out. But I also appreciate all the input.

I also remembered the wonderful old thread by Nan (I think) that talks about how your 9th grader is not a college freshman. I realize I did the same thing with my oldest for different issues...projecting that he wasn’t ready for college yet when he was entering 9th grade and forgetting that I have four years to get him ready. I think part of my concerns was feeling like that he needs to be prepared for a heavier reading load...even if he can use audiobooks, they may not be available for everything in college. But then I talked myself off the ledge and repeated the mantra from Nan that a 9th grader is not a 12th grader. And a 12th grader isn’t even a college freshman. Big deep breaths, and I’m ok again. 

I think I’ll mostly leave it up to him. Some of the things we are going to use don’t have audiobooks as options so he we have to use the print version. But if there is one available and he wants to use it, we can do that. 

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