As you might have gathered, we’re big fans of audiobooks here at Voxblock. But what’s all the fuss about? What’s the point of an audiobook? Do children gain anything by listening to one?
Well, the short answer is that audiobooks have a huge amount to offer, both in terms of education, and entertainment. Listening is an active skill that can be taught, cultivated, and improved; just like reading. Hearing a story is not a poor alternative to reading it, in fact The National Literacy Trust contends that listening to an audiobook requires the same cognitive skills as reading in print, supporting comprehension skills and emotional intelligence. The brain works in the same way to decode the words it hears, as those it reads.
But at the same time, we shouldn’t view audiobooks as a direct comparison to printed books. There are many ways in which audiobooks are actually infinitely more valuable than their printed counterparts. Actively hearing a story allows children to absorb rhythms of speech and language in a way they can’t when reading, contributing to their own spoken language skills and understanding.
Audiobooks can also often be more accessible than the printed word. For children in homes where English is a second language, or with carers who are reluctant readers themselves, audiobooks can be the easiest way to share literature as a family. It’s also widely accepted that a child’s listening level is significantly higher than their reading level, so audio can be used to expose children to complex narratives and ideas that would be beyond them in print.
With the audio industry booming, high-quality — and on some occasions celebrity — narrators are becoming increasingly common. And so too, is diversity of voice - gone are the days of BBC RP being the only voice on the radio. Audiobooks are an opportunity to expose children to a diverse array of accents and voices, as well letting them hear their own voices echoed back at them.
So what does Voxblock bring to the table? Well, our screen free audio player aims to make audio accessible for all. It doesn’t require an internet connection or a costly subscription, and so levels the playing field in terms of access to audiobooks. In the future, we hope to work with schools and libraries to bring our player to as many listeners as possible.
And of course, we’re passionate about creating a screen free alternative in a world of phones and tablets. Screens aren’t all bad — studies show the benefits they can have to motor skills and coordination — but they also negatively impact concentration, not to mention the safety issues associated with internet access. In creating an audio player devoid of screens, we enable children to focus safely and entirely on the story. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what reading is all about?
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