Audiobooks are generally considered as cheating. “It’s not a real book!” the reading police cry. In my humble opinion, it doesn’t matter how people are engaging with the literary world, as long as they are reading and interacting with the story, it shouldn’t matter what format it comes in. Of course, there are definitions of reading, and while this may not be a traditional book, it certainly can have value to those that encounter the world of audiobooks.
Reading is understanding. It is engaging with a story and exploring the contents and themes of that book. Questioning and analysing the content within the story is as important as reading a book. Understanding the key messages contained within stories is a valuable educational tool.
Audiobooks have been used for generations, encouraging people who are learning a second language to learn effectively, and for disabled or impaired people to also enjoy the literary world of stories. In this instance, the traditional book is not an inspired learning tool, it is a hindrance to someone’s development. By allowing people to engage with audiobooks, you are inspiring their love for storytelling. Let’s be honest; that is not entirely a bad thing.
Let us take a look at why there are so many benefits to engaging with audiobooks:
- You can introduce people to the world of books that is way beyond their reading level and capabilities
- You can provide a basis for people to interpret what they read. Analysis of books is as important as simply reading them
- Critical listening is imperative for all. After all, you don’t just want to listen to the books and take nothing away from them. You need to critically engage with the story to truly understand it
- For those of us with a lesser reading ability, the humour can be highlighted in a much more positive way. Discovering humour in books encourages more people to read
- You are introduced to more genres, that you may never have considered reading. The Hobbit audiobook is a perfect case in point. Many people appreciate the film but have never considered reading a book. Let’s be honest; it’s a classic!
- Audiobooks recapture the art of storytelling. Should the narrator be a fascinating and engaging reader, then the book is going to sound a lot more magical than simply reading in one’s head.
Books are the perfect form of escapism. For those that cannot engage with books in their traditional format, the audiobook provides the perfect alternative. You can still be enraptured with books and still appreciate their stories, irrespective of one’s reading ability or other impairments that may stop them from appreciating literature.
Should you want to test the waters with audiobooks, then it may be advisable to seek the services of your local library. Of course, audiobooks are not for everyone so before you purchase one, it may be advisable to loan them to ensure that they are good for you.
It is time to stop being ‘snobby’ where audiobooks are concerned and concentrate on the art of beautiful storytelling.