Friday, October 21, 2016

Should you buy audiobooks for your school library?

Schlatter, Rebecca
INFO 266, Fall 2016

Moore, J. & Cahill, M.(2016).  Audiobooks:  Legitimate “reading” material for adolescents? School Library Research 19.  Retrieved from 


In this article two professors explored whether audiobooks provide an educational benefit to students and then using the results of their study offered several suggestions for how school librarians should utilize audiobooks.  The writers evaluated professional claims that audiobooks are beneficial in education, reviewing research on the effects for students with disabilities, second language learners and mainstream learners.  Most English teachers will not be surprised to hear that the use of audiobooks did improve short-term comprehension for many, but not all, types of students, but it did nothing to improve a student’s reading skills overall. The article ends with clear guidance for how a school librarian can use, or at times not use, audiobooks to benefit students.

As a former English teacher who used audiobooks in class to help students plod through texts that were challenging, I was very intrigued by this article.  As a teacher I felt that the audiobooks were helping poor readers access grade level texts, but never knew for sure.  I found it interesting that this study supported my feeling.

I would say this article is a worthwhile read when considering what to buy for a library collection.  It is not often that libraries, school libraries particularly, think about buying audiobooks for a collection.  But this article provides some insights about when that might be appropriate and justified based upon research.

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