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Audiobooks Offer Easy Access to Learning for All Ages

Photo: Courtesy of Wes Hicks

Michele Cobb

Executive Director, Audio Publishers Association

Today’s interconnected world offers many access points to education, and audiobooks can play a key role in expanding those opportunities. 

Humans have been learning and teaching through words for millennia, but the written word has only been commonly accessible for 200 years. The spoken word taps into our original oral style of teaching and learning, and today’s youth are often more open to a lively narration of a classic than to the dusty paperback on their library’s shelves. 

A virtual library

The Audio Publishers Association offers its Sound Learning program and tools ( to educators interested in learning more about how to expand their literacy programs. With Samples and Collections (, teachers and librarians looking for ways to encourage multimodal literacy will find what they need in this extensive list of titles covering a wide array of genres, themes, and topics for students in grades 3-12.

Young people can connect to the best in both classic and current award-winners when educators build a curriculum that includes both print and audio editions of our curated lists of exemplary fiction and nonfiction titles. 

Sound Learning also offers other resources for teachers, librarians, and parents, such as videos and reports about the proven benefits of integrating an audio program. Today’s readers can experience the same story as they toggle between audiobooks in the car, e-books on a tablet, and paperbacks at home; and today’s tech-savvy youth have a leg up in this transmedia world. 

Introducing these digital natives to literature via audiobooks can be as easy as maintaining a format-neutral policy when referring to reading. Also, absorbing information from a variety of formats helps increase understanding and fosters interest in learning.

An added tool

Listening yields further benefits to those seeking knowledge. The publishing world is experiencing a renaissance of publications featuring more diverse life experiences than ever before, and well-researched audiobooks take a starring role in delivering authentic pronunciation, dialect, and pacing. 

The field of audiobook narrators is growing, too, and bursting with those who have masterful comedic timing, or boast an astonishing ability to create and maintain a whole cavalcade of distinct character portrayals. The joy of listening includes engagement with the performance as much as with content.

Listening to a book expertly delivered — and carefully crafted by its author — gives readers opportunities to expand human connections along with their lives.

Michele Cobb, Executive Director, Audio Publishers Association, [email protected]

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