Discussion Time! Does listening to a book count as reading it?

We have this summer program thing going on at the library. The patrons are supposed to keep track of how many minutes they read a day.  My first question was, what about audio books? If I listen to an audio book, do I get to count those minutes as the amount of time I had read.

I think I assumed that no it would not, but was surprised when my supervisor said “Of course!” Another clerk that will go nameless….ahem…Erica…., said that she feels like audio books are like cheating. You can’t say you’ve read a book until you’ve actually READ it.  (I’m sure that I am misrepresenting her opinion and that a bigger discussion would clear up all the facts behind her particular feelings.)

I wander back to this question frequently. On one hand, no. It’s not reading it. You never have to look at a single word.

But on the other hand, is reading a book the actual process of sounding out the words that form the sentences and ideas? Or, can reading a book simply mean you have experienced the story, the thoughts, the characters, the message the author intended to get across.

Scenario: what if there was a person that never learned to read or write, but was able to listen and understand the audio books of classics, text books, history lectures, and scientific journals. Could this person still be considered educated?

I don’t think there is a definite answer to this question. I think that is why I’d like to open it for discussion.  What do you think?

Should I be able to say I have READ a book when I, in fact, actually just listened to someone read it to me? Where does that fall on the scale of book reading cheatery in your opinion? (Watching the movie and reading Cliff’s Notes are on that scale.)




One Comment Add yours

  1. Anne says:

    We read to our children all the time. Reading out loud is proven to increase vocabulary and give them the benefits of reading a book. Sounding out the words is just one part of reading a novel. If not, we could all stop taking language arts after kindergarten. I think it counts. If you are going to limit reading to seeing it on a page, all the blind people of the world have never read a book, they have never SEEN a word on a page. The have felt or heard…it is just using a different one of our senses to experience it. We all have strengths. A person with a learning disability that makes reading hard may be able to listen to a book while some children may need to see and and touch to pay attention. It is not fair to limit reading, or tell someone what they have learned, or experienced does not count. Your freshmen English teacher would not say, “I’m sorry Paul. You can understand at a 9th grade level but only read at a 2nd grade level so listening to the required text will not be approved and you may not take the quiz on this weeks assigned reading.” Listening to books counts.


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