Do audiobooks destroy the purpose of reading?

by Katie Mae Yetter, Staff Writer

I remember when I was 4  years old, my mother put a small book in my hands with a few sight words. I will never forget what I felt when I realized I was reading. I vividly remember running around my grandma’s house squealing “I can read!” But what if the children of the future only used audiobooks? What if they never got the experience to connect with the books they read? What if they never got to dive into the mystical world of reading because they just listened to it. 

Comprehension is effective in reading. Having words cemented into your brain and making them memorable is fairly important especially when reading is for school. But does listening to the book work as well as physically reading it? I  think not. When you comprehend you reread, a study from the Time tells, “About 10 to 15% of eye movements during reading are actually regressive—meaning [the eyes are] going back and re-checking,” 

Audiobooks expand the imagination, having children only focus on drawing vivid pictures in their minds. It’s possible to expand a child’s vocabulary because the pronunciation would be as the audiobook says. In a paper book, you have to figure out a pronunciation on your own. A study conducted by the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior states  “our brains are actually more likely to create meaningful imagery when we listen to a story…” This is crucial for the mind but all of this could happen with a paperback just as well.

 The human body responds to touch and for some people, the sense of security can come from a book. There’s nothing safer than being in a book and getting lost in the worlds created. That escape from the cruel world makes someone feel like they can be anything. Katherine Schulten states in her New York Times article,  “Speech is ephemeral — you hear a word, and then it is gone. The word written down remains, and so we attach more significance to it.” Even if it’s an emotional attachment to a word the significance can take a toll positively. Being able to connect with imaginary worlds, can soften the blow of the world. Drawing images in your mind is important to any childhood, to embrace creativity and expand imaginations. 

As a child, I read everything around me. Having the ability to escape was one of my greatest pleasures. I used to hide under my covers with a flashlight and the brand new book I got from the library. I couldn’t imagine my childhood any other way. Depriving children of these experiences feels completely wrong. Audiobooks would rob the kids of a physical bond with a book.