The Literacy Trust in the United Kingdom and Audible have just issued a new report on how young people are listening to 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 1 in 4 listened to audiobooks or audiobooks with podcasts. Audiobooks can also break some of the barriers to reading for reluctant readers, with a smaller gender gap in listening enjoyment compared to reading.
1 in 5 (21.7%) children and young people said that listening to an audiobook or podcast has got them interested in reading books. More children and young people who enjoy listening say that they also enjoy reading, compared with children who do not enjoy listening (58.3% vs. 46.1%). 2 in 5 (43.1%) children and young people agree that listening to audiobooks helps them understand a subject. 2 in 5 (40.3%) children and young people agreed that when they listen to stories rather than watching videos they use their imagination more.
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%).
In a statement, Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust said “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 behaviors, 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.”
Meanwhile, Kevin Addley, VP, Country Manager at Audible said “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.”
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.