I recently ran across an article debating whether completing school reading via audiobook is cheating. The basic question is this: Must one actually physically read the written word for the activity to count as “reading”? There are strong arguments for both sides.
There are those who believe that sitting down and reading each word on the page is only way to read. The first of several definitions of read on Dictionary.com is this: to look at carefully so as to understand the meaning of (something written, printed, etc.): to read a book; to read music.
This certainly implies that reading requires physical examination of the written words. Some teachers say that they won’t allow students to read with audiobooks because it is cheating. To them, reading without a physical book is not actually reading at all.
The 4th definition of read is: to apprehend the meaning of (signs, characters, etc.) otherwise than with the eyes, as by means of the fingers: to read Braille. To me, that implies that listening to book is also reading.
There are obvious cases where listening to books is acceptable. In the case of visually disabled students, this is a suitable option. Learning disabled students often utilize audio options as well. For some reason, there seems to be discrimination against those who choose alternative means of obtaining an author’s information.
Children (who are able) must learn to visually interpret the written word in the form of reading. Once they have acquired the skill, audio options can be considered. Keep in mind, that in a testing situation as well as in multiple school circumstances, children will be required to physically read. But for supplementary reading, there is no reason to avoid using audio.
My preference is for my children to combine visual and audio reading. If they are struggling, often adding the audio component as they follow the written words will help them to comprehend the meaning of the book. What’s your take?