A sound decision or not?

Though nothing really can replace the joy of reading, audiobooks can be a good add-on.
Last Updated 21 May 2022, 20:15 IST

Even as debates regarding physical books versus ebooks rage on, another contender has come into the scene and created a place for itself. Audiobooks have become immensely popular in the last few years. But if you think of it, the concept is nothing new.

My parents’ generation talk about growing up listening to radio dramas, and even cinema soundtracks on the radio — audiobooks are nearly the same!

Children have also embraced audiobooks, and there are multiple reasons for it.

Learning to read: Some children who are just learning to read find the process easier to master by following the words in a physical book while listening to the audiobook of the same story. Karadi Tales has been a pioneer in this field in India, and have been bringing out excellent
quality books+audiobooks for decades.

During boring/repetitive/uninteresting work: My daughter listens to audiobooks while doing a task she doesn’t like, and that, she says, makes her enjoy and look forward to the task instead of dreading it. This could be cleaning/decluttering/exercising or as one mother put it to me, any “basic life stuff that interferes with reading (like
eating and showering!)”

Road Trips: Audiobooks can make the kilometres fly by on long journeys or road trips. Also, children can avoid motion sickness and eye strain brought about by reading in a moving vehicle.

Auditory learners: Some children learn better by listening or talking, than by reading. Audiobooks are a way for them to enjoy good literature or absorb information from a nonfiction book even if they don’t enjoy the process of reading.

Easy on the eyes: During virtual schooling in the pandemic, my daughter started getting headaches. The doctor said her eyes needed rest, and suggested she cut down not only on screentime but on reading too. That didn’t go down too well with my daughter who was in the middle of an interesting book. She solved the problem by borrowing the audiobook from our local library (in the US). That is how audiobooks entered our lives.

Independence: Children who want to be read to, need a free grownup to read to them. When everybody’s busy, audiobooks to the rescue!

There are drawbacks too, of course. Audiobooks are not widely available and are expensive. has a lot of options for children but needs a subscription, and there aren’t many Indian books there.

GetLitt, StoryNory, HeyCloudy and several other websites have Indian stories available for children, but some need subscriptions.

Also, the narrator often plays a huge role in whether you like an audiobook or not.

Besides, you cannot flip back and forth, and if you stop paying attention for a bit for any reason, it’s not easy to go back and find the point where you stopped listening.

Some parents worry that audiobooks will substitute reading. However, from my experience and observation, audiobooks are just an add-on, just another way to consume the abundant content available out there.

After all, for those who love reading, the joy can’t be replaced by anything else.

The author has written 14 books for children and can be reached at

GobbledyBook is a fortnightly column that gives a peek into the wondrous world of children’s books. Hop on! or as Alice did, plunge into the rabbit hole.

(Published 21 May 2022, 19:49 IST)

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