Remember story time?
I don’t either. But as a grownup, I’ve come to appreciate the value of being read stories to.
When it comes to the effects on the brain, though, I’d guess that listening to a story being read to you is not the same as reading the book yourself, regardless of format.
I’m no brain scientist, but my hypothesis has been that the active pursuit of reading text on a page (fiction in particular, because it requires the brain to envision the scenarios it is reading about) probably activates different areas of the brain than the passive experience of listening to an audio book, which, I suspected, is akin to watching television.
Turns out science doesn’t quite back up this hypothesis of armchair scholarship, at least from what I’ve been able to find through online searches on the subject.
In fact, here are two articles, written about a year apart, that support the very opposite of my hypothesis, making me quite decidedly wrong. One article, from August 2016, essentially tackles a similar hypothesis to the one I started with, and the other, a droll New Yorker piece from October 2017, basically confirms that my hypothesis is unsound.
Granted, these articles are, at least in part, opinion pieces. Plus, in fairness, the question at hand is really about whether it’s somehow cheating to listen to a book rather than to read it, not other minutiae of the neurological effects of reading.
Ultimately, it comes down to what the goal is. In these busy times, it’s hard not to rely on listening devices, apps, and audio books that get you up to speed in time for your next class, book club meeting, or reading goal.
So listen away.
As long as you don‘t fall asleep at the wheel, it seems as good as the old fashioned method.
Then there is the issue of multitasking…