Around one in five children in the UK will have special educational needs (SEN) at some point during their school years, according to research by the National Literacy Trust. Special educational needs can affect children in many ways, including their behaviour in the classroom, social integration, reading and writing skills, and concentration levels. Reading to children with SEN can support development of language and communication skills, enhancing the likelihood of positive outcome throughout their school journey and preparing them to understand the written word.
Stories also have the power to bring emotions to life, and help children understand their own feelings and those of others. Storytelling is especially important for children with SEN, who may struggle with empathy and with literacy skills. Through stories, children learn to develop a sense of empathy by experiencing a situation from the perspective of a protagonist they can relate to. As their empathy develops, they connect more deeply with stories, fostering greater engagement with reading and higher levels of comprehension.
Audiobooks have a strong contribution to make in this area. Research shows that engagement with audiobooks supports children’s listening and reading skills in a similar way to reading a story out loud, yet with less demand on teacher resources. Audiobooks enable children to broaden their vocabulary and to experience stories they may not yet have the literacy skills to tackle with confidence, enabling them to "reach up" to adventures that are more engaging and more immersive than their reading level normally allows. This is particularly true for reluctant readers, and children with special educational needs, who may find that the result of slow reading is that the story never catches fire in their imagination. Audiobooks can help to spark the flame that encourages struggling readers to engage with books.
Audiobooks can effectively engage reluctant, struggling and developing readers by enabling them to access stories beyond their current reading level (National Literacy Trust, 2020). The "cool factor" of listening to stories on a digital device is also particularly appealing to reluctant readers. Audiobooks also help families with parents who struggle to read, or who lack confidence reading, supporting them in sharing stories with their children.
Cloudaloud Education subscribers receive:
• A licence to access 1000s of audiobooks that can be used as a classroom and school digital library
• A Literacy Bundle of physical books: a collection of titles that correspond to audiobooks on the Cloudaloud app as a literacy support tool
• Access to additional resources, teachers’ notes, activities, and information mapped to the curriculum by Key Stage to help educators use audio in the classroom
• The first month free!