There’s nothing like getting swept up in a great story. Audible customers know that this experience is distinguished and heightened by the power and intimacy of nuanced performance; in the right hands, listening becomes more like movies or theater than a book. So it should come as no surprise that more kids and teens are getting swept up in listening, especially in this past year and a half when spending more time at home. What’s more, listening is leading to increased comprehension, as well as fueling interest in engaging further with audiobooks.
Recently, Audible teamed up with UK-based nonprofit National Literacy Trust (NLT) to study the listening habits of kids during the last 18 months. NLT Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas explains, “Since the start of the pandemic, when schools and libraries closed, we have been exploring the benefits of audiobooks for children and young people.” The study, which focused on 8- to 18-year-olds, found that almost half (48.7%) were listening to some form of spoken-word audio, like podcasts, with more than half of that population (25.4%) listening specifically to audiobooks.
There’s an uptick in new fans, too. About 1 in 10 kids listened to their first audiobook this last year, and another 1 in 10 kids were already listeners but are now listening to more books than ever. “The last year and a half have been exceptionally turbulent for children and young people,” acknowledges Kevin Addley, who manages Audible’s UK operations. “We are so glad audio has provided interest and enjoyment, all while boosting literacy.”
Many of the children and young people surveyed testified to the power of listening, with 40.3% agreeing that they use their imagination more when listening to stories than when watching videos, and 43.1% agreeing that listening helps them better understand a subject. And 1 in 5 kids said listening to an audiobook or podcast made them interested in reading books.
The emotional and physiological impact of listening to audio storytelling has been studied before, as have the benefits for kids with reading challenges, but what this study reveals is that audio is helping more and more young people to access books. As if that weren’t enough, comments from the kids surveyed suggest that listening to audiobooks and podcasts helps ease their anxiety, and feedback confirmed that listening with family and friends can be an important way of connecting. Overall, the study reveals that kids and teens are discovering the life-changing power of the spoken word and the pleasure of listening.