With ubiquitous tablets and phones, a child’s first introduction to reading may be audiobooks. But does this help or hurt kids in the long run?

While audiobooks are no substitute for reading aloud with your children, they can supplement that time. Audiobooks can help build imagination and reading skills. When a child is learning to read or struggling with reading skills, much of their focus and energy goes into sounding out words. They can miss the fun of the story. If they listen to a story and then read it, the context can help them with the words. If you have a reluctant or frustrated reader, audiobooks can infuse some joy into the process.

You can expand your child’s exposure to books through audio offerings. Your child can ‘read’ on their own, even when you are busy. If your child has a favorite book, find other books by the same author from your library’s audiobooks catalog or through a paid app like Audible. Epic allows you to download one audiobook each day for free.

Audiobooks are easily accessible through public libraries. Libraries use apps like OverDrive or Libby that allow you to check out books for as long as three weeks. Check with your local library on which app they use and how to set it up and link it to your library card.

Bottom line: audiobooks are one more way to open the wonderful world of reading to children.