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You’re not alone. Some dyslexic students may prefer to read silently rather than ‘read’ all their books by ear. Reasons for this vary, but usually these students have significant auditory processing weakness or trouble with sustained auditory attention. At younger ages (7-10 years), boys tend have weaker auditory attention compared to girls, so some gender differences also exist.

Some students tell us that they listen to a parent, tutor, or other partner read – and it’s just the recording or digital voice they can’t hold on to… in these cases it may be that an in-person reader pauses and talks to the listener from time-to-time, breaking up the monotony of a recorded voice. Do check and see if it’s not just that the readers on tape or app are not engaging enough or clear. Many people prefer certain voices – especially professional voice talent who read with good expression and feeling. If you haven’t checked back in a while, it might be worth trying a book that your student has a high interest in – and then see if you can find a reader of the book that he or she especially likes.

It’s not uncommon to begin to enjoy audiobooks later in adolescence or adulthood – even if they didn’t ‘take’ when they were young. Everyone’s auditory verbal working memory span increases as we get older so that it might need to reach a critical size before audiobooks become a possibility.

If audiobooks haven’t worked before, you can also consider priming the pump by previewing what the book will be about or choosing a book series that’s already popular. Read for pleasure first too, because that can also help a lot!