12 Best podcasts to teach kids native English

12 Best podcasts to teach kids native English

Podcasts for kids are an amazing learning tool, help to avoid screen time, are the perfect activity for road trips, keep kids wildly entertained, and they are totally free!

Learning a language is a sensory (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) experience!  You learn not only by looking at the language, but also by hearing it, smelling, tasting, and touching it too.  At Everest Education, we are always experimenting with new and effective ways to keep my students engaged and learning.  One of our biggest challenges is how to get students engaged with English outside of our lessons together.  Lessons are great, but students make much faster progress when they also engage with the language outside the classroom.  That’s why we start incorporating podcasts into our blended learning model – to teach English both in class and as supplemental material.

Podcasts are all the rage these days – a valuable resource and have a lot of potentials to teach kids English. They are the perfect way to compliment your child’s language classes and pick up some new vocabulary during family road trips and house chores.  And did you know that while podcasts are on the rise for adults, they’ve become just as popular for kids and families too?!

However, as children’s audio content has flooded the airwaves, it can be a challenge to find the good stuff that’s also appropriate.  To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of our favorite podcasts – including perfect bedtime stories, science exploration, cool news, and more.  Use the grade recommendations as a guide, and age them up or down as needed. 

But first, what’s a podcast?

The term Podcast is actually a portmanteau of iPod and Broadcast. 

A podcast is a recording of audio discussion on a specific topic, like business, travel, learning language… that can be listened to. Podcasts are usually original audio shows, consisting of individual episodes on a variety of topics, even though today video podcasts do exist.  

Podcasting has really grown out of a need for background content.  That means something that can entertain you, educate you or inspire you in the background of other boring or rote activities.

Podcasts cover almost any topic, are typically free and on-demand.  This means anyone can access them, at any time, about any one thing and across a variety of platforms, all for free.  To put it into context, you can imagine podcasts just like audio content similar to talk radio shows or e-books. They are usually free to access across desktop and mobile devices. Anyone can listen to a podcast with an internet connection and a pair of headphones. 

What’s Great About Podcasts for English Learners

Podcasts are great for a bunch of reasons.

  • Podcasts are easy and convenient. Podcasts make the most of the time that would otherwise go to waste.  That’s why everyone loves them!  No matter what stage of the learning process your child is at, it is helpful to get as much exposure to spoken English as possible. Podcasts allow your child to tune into the language anytime and anywhere: while your family is out for a walk or in the car while preparing for dinner, before going to bed… They’re a great way to allow your child to stay connected with the language without much effort.
  • Podcasts are authentic.  There is a big difference between textbook English and “real English” as we hear it on the street.  Podcasts can give your child more experience listening to conversational English as it is really spoken.  They are useful because they provide students with examples of how people actually talk.  Rather than silly, made-up dialogues, podcasts feature real conversations and speech.  Children can get used to listening to podcasts where the speaker talks with “umms” and “ahhhs,” and learn to apply this in real life so that their spoken English sounds more natural.
  • Podcasts are diverse.  Some English textbooks try to provide a variety of English accents in their audios, but many don’t.  Podcasts offer us a wide range of types of spoken English.  You can find podcasts on nearly every topic, from science questions to lesser-known history, and in nearly every genre, from short fiction to in-depth journalism. Podcasts expose students to a wide variety of methods of communication, including narration, casual dialogue, scripted dialogue, and interviews. Additionally, as the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, more creators are focusing on content for young people.
  • Podcasts are interesting.  Students don’t want to do exercises unless they’re genuinely engaging.  Podcasts are designed to hook kids with music, jokes, compelling stories, and more.  Some are designed in a serial format with cliffhangers at the end to get kids to tune back in.  
  • Podcasts teach specialist vocabulary.  There’s a podcast for every interest, every opinion, and every profession. Parents can choose the content and form that fits your child’s interest. For example, if your child is a science lover, listening to science podcasts will not only teach them new knowledge but also expand their vocabulary in that field. 
  • Podcasts are free.  Podcasts themselves don’t have subscription or download fees, so anyone with internet access can listen and download for free.  Most podcatcher apps are free, too (although some do have costs associated with them).

Best podcast that your kids will love

With podcasts, families can enjoy the same level of engagement, entertainment, and education as screen-based activities without worrying about staring at a screen. So, where to begin?  We’ve done the research to find 12 awesomely entertaining podcasts that your kids (and you) will enjoy.

Podcasts for Students in Elementary School 

1. Stories Podcast

“Stories Podcast” performs a new story every week, drawing from a variety of sources and a variety of styles. There are retellings of classics like Snow White, some folktales, and myths from around the world, as well as original stories.  Episodes range from 10 to 20 minutes, with most on the longer side. “Story Podcast” has a good mix of one-off episodes and long-running series, which makes it easy to find something appropriate for your child’s attention span.

2. Circle Round

Here’s another creative story podcast that focuses on folktales from around the world.  Created and produced by parents of young children, Circle Round adapts carefully-selected folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich radio plays for kids ages 4 to 10.  “Circle Round” is a bit more overt in its value-teaching than some of the others in this list.  Each 10-to 20-minute episode explores important issues like kindness, persistence, and generosity.  And each episode ends with an activity that inspires a deeper conversation between children and grown-ups.

3. But Why: A podcast for curious kid

Why do dogs have tails?  Why do ladybugs have spots?  Do dragonflies bite? Have you ever heard these questions from your child and have no clue to answer them? No worries, “But Why” can take care of that!  This production, from Vermont Public Radio, tackles such topics as Why Do people have nightmares?, Do animals get married?, and Why do lions roar?.  “But Why” aims to answer kid questions about everything from nature, politics, culture, science, even the end of the world. Your kids can submit their own questions, too; instructions are on the website.

4. Wow in the World

“Wow in the World” is a science, technology, and new discoveries podcast developed by National Public Radio. If your child is intrigued by hermit crab behavior, solving the problem of what to do with all those disposable water bottles, space vacations of the future, or the benefits of saying thank you, this is an ideal option. “Wow in the World” takes kids (and their grown-ups) on a journey fueled by curiosity and wonder. In this weekly show, hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz explore the science behind topics kids will love – from singing mice and wombat poop to the amazing power of a dog’s nose.  “Wow in the World” is also a favorite podcast channel of Tony Ngo – Everest Education’s Chairman and Co-founder – and is the go-to solution when his kids start fighting with one another.

>> See Tony’s review for Wow in the World here: https://blog.e2.com.vn/best-english-learning-podcasts-for-your-kids/

5. What if World

“What If World” is a storytelling podcast for kids.  Every two weeks, the creative host of this podcast – Mr Eric, takes questions from kids and spins them into an entertaining tale.  What if a tiny dragon lived in my closet?  What if there were a never-ending bowl of ice cream?  What if cats ruled the world?  What we love about “What if World” is the way they include their lessons after each story.  For example, in one of their newest episodes of What if a dragon got stuck in time?, they teach children how “Being honest with others can help you feel better about yourself. Time keeps moving forward, and that makes life interesting and every day special.” These lessons are not only valuable for kids, but also for adults as well.

Best Podcasts for Tweens in Middle School

1. Brains On!

“Brains On!” is an award-winning science podcast for kids and curious adults, produced by American Public Media.  Episodes of this podcast explore the science behind topics such as ants, engines, hiccups, and salty foods.  “Brains On!” is co-hosted by kid scientists and reporters from public radio.  Your kid will love learning how insects walk on walls, how to find their way without a compass, and even where poo and pee go when you flush the toilet.

There’s a series called “Smash Boom Best” in which two things are pitted against each other and your kid can pick their favorite.  For example, Robots or Aliens: which is cooler?.  The show is best suited for slightly older kids.

2. The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified

Listen as world-famous radio reporter Eleanor foils devious plots, outwits crafty villains, and goes after The Big Story.  Eleanor Amplified is an adventure series for the whole family.  Eleanor’s pursuit of truth takes her into orbit, out to sea, and even to the halls of Congress!  Her adventures are entertaining and informative.  Eleanor will spark laughter and conversation the whole family will enjoy, while preparing kids to appreciate journalism and make smart media choices in the future.   It is appropriate for kids of all ages and recommended for kids ages 8-12.

3. Listenwise

“Listenwise” provides high-quality podcasts and lesson collections with interactive transcripts for English Language Arts (ELA), Social Studies, and Science.  “Listenwise” is an award-winning listening skills platform, searchable by topic area or school subject.  It advances classroom learning by providing additional content and building listening skills.  There is also a focus on current events that keep learning tied to the real world.

4. Youth Radio

Youth Radio is a podcast for teens, published by teens.  It was created to showcase the power of young people as makers of media, technology, and community.  “Youth radio” brings the teen perspective to issues of public concern.

Podcasts for Teens in High School

1. StoryCorps

One of the largest oral history projects of its kind, “StoryCorps” has recorded the stories of over 250,000 people in the U.S.  Students at just about any grade level or in any subject area could use the “StoryCorps” interviews in a variety of ways, including writing prompts, discussion topics, primary sources for research projects, and more.  Your teens also can record their own stories as well.

2. This American Life

“This American Life” is a weekly public radio program and podcast, featuring compelling, funny and often very surprising stories with intriguing plots – little movies for radio, as they call them.  This popular radio show and podcast combines personal stories, journalism, and even stand-up comedy for an enthralling hour of content.  Each week they choose a different theme and curate stories based around it.  The focus isn’t specifically on English language learning here, instead “This American Life” offers a great opportunity for English learners to get used to different regional American accents while listening to unusual and interesting real-life stories from around the country.

3. Stuff You Should Know

From the people behind the award-winning website HowStuffWorks, this frequently updated podcast explains the ins and outs of everyday things from the major (“How Free Speech Works”) to the mundane (“How Itching Works”).  Longer episodes and occasional adult topics such as alcohol, war, and politics make this a better choice for older listeners, but hosts Josh and Chuck keep things engaging and manage to make even complex topics relatable.  And with nearly 1,000 episodes in its archive, your teen might never run out of new things to learn.

A word from Everest Education…

Podcasts are growing in popularity with families.  They give you an engaging way to connect with kids, no screen required.  It can be daunting for a first-timer to enter the world of podcasts, but digital tools have made it easier than ever to start listening.  So if your child is a newbie to podcast, walk through this list with her and discuss to find out which is her favorite. You can test out any of the free episodes via their websites, iTunes, or Apple/ Google Play and then subscribe to the ones your kids love.

Although podcasting developed for children and families is still in its infancy, this platform holds great promise to inform, entertain, and educate.   

Should you have any concerns or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at



Use flashcards to teach your kids Math vocab

Use flashcards to teach your kids Math vocab

In recent decades, with the ongoing wave of globalization and the increasing numbers of international and bilingual schools across our country, learning Math in English has been an emerging trend among middle-class and dual-income families.  The ability to do Math in English not only enables students to participate in international Math competitions, such as IMO (International Mathematical Olympiad), SASMO (Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiads), IKMC (International Kangaroo Mathematics Contest)… but also get them ready for assessment tests to gifted schools, and those standardized tests like SAT, ACT for college applications.  

Even if students don’t have a plan to study abroad, having a good knowledge of Math in English still allows them to take full advantage of online resources out there. The internet nowadays provides us with tons of free, useful, and enriching Math learning sites, applications, resources from renowned universities, and other educational institutions.  The only problem is: they are all in English.

As one of the pioneering learning centers conducting Math classes in English, and having years of experience teaching Math for international students, there were so many times we saw a student, who was proficient in a specific Math skill but still got problems incorrectly.  Most of the time, it was not the actual Math that was causing students issues. They were struggling because they were not fluent in the language of Math.

To help children learn Math in a language which is not their first language, teachers and parents need to assess whether this is desirable, and attempt to find meaningful, effective ways in which they are able to correctly use Mathematical terms and apply them to problem solving.   

Since scientists acknowledge that the aptitude for developing Mathematical skills is directly connected to literacy, parents should first equip young children with a strong foundation of basic Math concepts.

In this article, we give-away a set of Math flashcards with detailed guidance for parents to incorporate Math vocabulary lessons into your daily conversation with your child, to help them build a strong knowledge of the vocabulary of Math. 

Why is Math Vocabulary Important?

Learning math is like learning a foreign language.  In order to be successful in Math, students must become fluent with the vocabulary.  Research has shown that “Mathematics presents challenging reading because this content area has more concepts per word, per sentence, and per paragraph than any other area” (Harmon, Hedrick, & Wood, 2005, p. 266).  We see this often with the trouble so many students have in approaching word problems! 

For example, students who were fluent in division facts can still be confused when asked to “compare the product of the expression on the left with the quotient of the expression on the right using the correct mathematical symbols.”  Even simple equations such as “5 + 5” or “6 – 2” may cause students to second guess themselves when instead of being told to simply add or subtract, they are instead asked to “compute to find the sum” or “calculate the equation to identify the difference.” 

Words like odd, even, product, positive, negative, power, and difference… have different meanings and connotations from the way they are used in everyday conversations.  That’s why we should provide consistent opportunities for students to practice the Math vocabulary words verbally, in writing, and in the context of Math problems.  The good news is that learning Math vocabulary can actually be fun for elementary students if you incorporate engaging games and activities into your weekly Math routines.

How to use flashcards to teach kids Math vocabulary

We tend to think of Math as all numbers, but there’s actually quite a bit of language learning that goes on in and outside the Math class, too.  If students can put “a name with a face”, they can start to really understand and translate Mathematical terminology into useful knowledge on their daily assignments.  This then would correlate to better attitudes towards Math as well as better results.

To assist parents with this, Everest has compiled a set of 50 flashcards – for parents to practice with your child at home.

Our Math Flashcards are free to download, easy to use, and very flexible.  The set consists of 50 basic Math terminologies any students need to know when they step into the world of Math in English. Each card has two features: one side is the word in English and the other is the definition demonstrated with clear graphics and explanation. Parents can print out as separate cards and run through them with your child every day to help them memorize the words.

How to use our Math Flashcards effectively:

The first step in using flashcards effectively is to use them the right way and in the right environment:

  1. Sit comfortably facing your child.
  2. Arrange the flashcards in the order you would like to present them.
  3. Hold up the first card so your child can clearly see the front. Keep the back of the flashcard toward you so your child cannot see it.
  4. If necessary, read the front of the flashcard to your child. For example, you may read a Math word from the flashcard front. Count to three in your head. This will allow your child about three seconds to consider the question on the flashcard and think about her answers. Remember, the key is keeping things fun. The best kind of learning occurs when your child is having too much fun to realize how much she is learning.
  5. If your child gives a correct answer, place the correctly answered flashcard in a pile on your left.
  6. If your child gives an incorrect response or no response, tell them the correct answer and place these flashcards in a pile on your right side.
  7. After you have finished showing your child all of the flashcards, you may continue your flashcard teaching session by using the stack of incorrectly answered cards. Continue in the same manner, placing correctly answered flashcards on the left and incorrectly answered flashcards on the right.
  8. Once your child has mastered the full set of flashcards, practice them periodically to ensure your child remembers them.

Pro tips:

1. State Answers Out Loud
Maybe your child likes to run through the flashcards on their own. Maybe your child is shy or timid. However, speaking out loud can help your child memorize the math vocabs. This way your child is seeing the word, saying the word, and hearing it. Together, this will help your child make connections to remember these words each time.

2. Focus on Mastery
You can sift through a large stack of cards every day, but it’s going to end up being a waste of time.  

Rather than spending time going over words that your child already knows, focus on ones that she hasn’t already mastered.  One way to do this would be by creating two containers – one for the words your child has mastered, and the other for ones that she is still working on. As your child masters each word, move it to the mastery box.  Then, your child can observe her progress while focusing on the facts that need to be mastered.

3. Keep things fun and stress-free
Adding to the mastery box may be encouraging, but children tend to lose motivation as the Math vocabs get harder and they know fewer words. As this happens, you can find ways to motivate your child to continue working hard by keeping the flashcard session fun and game-like.

For example, create a bingo card with answers. Then, hold up the math word. Have your child state the answer before finding the corresponding definition on the card. Of course, providing a prize or treat when your child gets a bingo could be a fun motivation, too!

Think Outside the Math Flashcards

If flashcards aren’t working or your child needs a break, there are still other ways to practice Math vocabulary:

  1. Use children’s literature to teach Math

One of the best ways to naturally teach Math vocabulary is in the context of an engaging story.   Children’s books are extremely effective tools for teaching Mathematics.  They can spark students’ Math imaginations in ways that textbooks or workbooks don’t.  Connecting Math to literature can boost confidence for children who love books but are wary of Math.  And students who already love Math can learn to appreciate stories in an entirely new way.  There’s a huge variety of books available that provide many opportunities for teaching Math lessons.  Parents can check out these five great reads that incorporate math for kids of various ages – recommended by Tony Ngo – our Chairman and Co-founder of Everest Education. That’s how he sneaks in Math concepts into the reading time with his two children.

  1. Utilize Math in everyday life

Students need to apply the terms that they see in their Math textbook, workbook, and videos to the world around them.  Studying fractions? Let your child measure out water into various cups. Is 1/4 smaller or larger than 1/3? How does the denominator change the value of the fraction?  Try recreating this in real life and help your child learn to use Math in practical ways.  You can also make a game of it and show your child that Math can be fun!

We have put together a long list of super fun Math activities for your kids to help them develop a strong foundation in understanding Math, and enhance their interest in learning.

>>> Get more ideas from our previous article: Playful Math activities for your primary kids.

A word from Everest Education

As you use Math flashcards with your children, make the process fun, and your child will learn and memorize the Math words in the process. As Frank Smith put it, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”  We hope that by enriching your children with more knowledge of Math vocabulary in English, they can be more confident to talk about Math concepts with international friends, and get ready mentally and academically to get into the international education environment. 

Should you have any concerns or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at


10 Pieces Of Advice All High School Students Need To Hear

10 Pieces Of Advice All High School Students Need To Hear

Back to school is an exciting time for students and families.  It can be a big step – particularly for those starting prep, or moving to high school. ​​​​​

Starting high school is a significant milestone in a student’s life.  It marks a passage into adolescence and brings about several significant changes.  You will go from being the oldest in school to being the youngest, having to find the way around a new school with different teachers for different subjects.  High school students have a lot to think about, from test preps to extra-curriculars to new social situations – not to mention the big “Where will I go to college?” question on every teen’s mind. 

However, it’s also an exciting transition – you’re finally getting to high school, which means new friends, more privileges, and new opportunities for exploring who you are.  High school has a lot to offer  – a chance to figure yourself out, find your limits, and do your best academically.  By taking advantage of all these benefits, we bet you will walk away from high school with a lot more than a diploma!

In this article, we compile a list of advice for high school students, recommended by recent graduates.  We hope from this list, incoming freshmen will be able to gain some insight into how to start your high school years with the right frame of mind – and get off to a great start.

If you’re a parent reading this, let’s pass along these tips to your son or daughter, and use them as talking points at home to help them survive – and thrive – in high school. 

1. Get yourself a daily planner

High school is a busy time between classes, friends, extracurricular activities, studying, family, college prep, and the rest.  A daily planner will help keep everything in your life in order.  Every assignment due date, test, deadline, or appointment will all be in one place.  Stay organized so that you can keep up in your classes and still have fun:

  • Set realistic long-term goals, and work backward from those to set smaller short-term goals to act as stepping stones.  Then, make a plan to achieve these goals.  We recommend WOOP – an easy-to-follow but effective goal setting framework to get you started.
  • Buy an academic planner/calendar with large daily blocks in which to write your assignments and class schedule.  Get in the habit of writing assignments in them while you are still in class, as teachers are writing or handing them out, to cut the risk that you’ll forget.
  • Plan manageable chunks of time to work, not one long slog.  This will lower your resistance to settling down to work and you’ll get positive reinforcement each time you finish a chunk.
  • Schedule personal time as well as work time in your planner.  It’s important to put aside time for things you want to do, so that you know that schoolwork isn’t taking all the fun out of your life.  

Since the COVID-19 virus has not been defeated yet, there’s a good chance your school year will involve some distance learning, depending on where you live.  If that’s the case, you’ll need to take responsibility for your own schoolwork and assignments, even more so than if you were enrolled in strictly traditional courses.

2. Get the best grade you can

Middle-school grades certainly matter.  But grades matter in a different way in high school.  This is because colleges will see them.  Remember your freshman year grades do count.  They will affect your GPA and will be viewed by colleges. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll have plenty of time to bring your grades up later.  Every year will affect your overall chances of getting into the college of your dreams.

The work in high school builds on what you learned in middle school, giving you a more advanced knowledge of many academic subjects.  So you may find you have more work to do or that it’s a bit more challenging.  But these challenges can make you feel less bored with the usual routine – it feels great when you’ve mastered something really tough.  Maybe you’ll find a new appreciation for biology or discover a passion for literature.

3. Build relationships with teachers

When you get to high school, your academic performance really matters.  To excel in your classes – other than hard work and studying – is to respect and communicate with your teachers.  Ask questions, and thank your teachers at the end of class.  Make an effort outside class to connect with your teachers. Even if your peers make snarky comments or accuse you of trying to be a teacher’s pet, at the end of the day, your teachers are the ones controlling your grades and giving you your education.  Not only will they be able to help you throughout your high school career, but you’ll also feel much more comfortable asking them to write the recommendations for your college applications.

4. Find extracurricular activities

High school also has more extracurriculars than middle school did, such as clubs, music and theater groups, student government, and sports teams.  While this is a great time to try new things, figure out what your skills and interests are, also be willing to try activities that are new to you whether it’s volunteering, a new sport, or a club. 

Successful high school students don’t disappear outside the walls of their classroom.  They are also engaged members of their community.  Get involved with issues that impact your student experience.  Educate yourself about the issues facing your community and learn to use your voice productively so that people will listen to your ideas.  The experience you can get out of these activities will also enrich your school life, provide you with more materials to craft your personal statement – in case you want to apply to a school abroad.

While too many activities can get in the way of homework, too few may get in the way of getting into the desired college.  Think quality, not quantity.  Non-academic activities – clubs, sports, community service – matter to admissions departments.  It’s better to be very involved and productive in just a few outside activities than minimally involved in a lot. 

5. Make meaningful connections

As cliché as it sounds, your friends in high school are going to be the ones who make your final year the best it can be.  Academic success is a huge part of high school, but socialization is just as big.  Your friends will help you have fun at school and get through any tough experiences life throws your way.  You have the rest of your life to be an adult; this is your time to still be a kid.  Find a group of friends with similar interests and stick together to make the most of high school.  

Try to make friends with everyone.  Be kind to everyone you see.  Making these friendships can be the determining factor between an isolating high school experience full of drama or a positive one with meaningful connections.  Branching out your social groups can mean making new friends that have different interests, talents, backgrounds, and values as you.  By doing this you’re preparing yourself to meet different kinds of people when you go off to college.  It’s important to note that not everyone will dress like you, like the same music as you, or celebrate the same holidays as you.  But by exposing yourself to that early you’ll be more tolerating and accepting of other people and the transition to college will be much easier. 

6. Take practice standardized tests

The SAT, ACT, IELTS, or TOEFL are an important aspect of your college application if you want to study abroad, and will be a plus point to take you straight to a local university with decent results.

Check out test prep books from the library and work on a few practice problems or vocabulary words a night, then take a timed practice test every other Sunday. If you’ve been studying, chances are your scores will start to go up, and you’ll be much more prepared and confident when test day rolls around.

Even though some colleges are going to stop requiring SAT test scores for admissions, we still recommend students sitting the exam, especially if you are an international student and want to apply to competitive colleges, as this is a concrete data point to compare you among thousands of applicants, and is what makes your application stand out more. 

>> Check out our Updates on changed SAT requirements in 2020 and 5 common FAQ here: https://blog.e2.com.vn/updates-on-changed-sat-requirements-in-2020-and-5-common-faq/

7. Don’t compare yourself to others

When it comes to grades and learning, comparison is always a bad idea. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, so don’t get nervous when yours don’t align with the majority. Even though there will be some times when you do badly and everyone else does well, there will also be times when the opposite happens. Similarly, don’t be discouraged if there is a subject or topic with which you are not completely comfortable. All students have academic weaknesses, but these can be overcome by working a little bit harder, asking plenty of questions, and getting extra help, if necessary. 

You’ll get the most satisfaction out of high school if you focus on the subject, people and activities that feel right to you, rather than spending time comparing yourself to others.

8. Ask for advice

You might think that juggling all this by yourself is the marker of true strength and independence, but successful students are those who know how to use the resources available.  Build strong relationships with teachers and peers, establish connections with learning resources like the writer’s center or study hall teachers, and connect with mentors to ensure that you have a support system in place, even if you never use it.

Further, don’t hesitate to reach out to the appropriate resource should you need a hand.  Don’t wait until you’re drowning to call for help; instead, let others know when you’re worried or confused and let them help you out before it gets over your head.  It’s amazing to see how people will open up, so don’t hesitate to ask a teacher, parent, or older student for some tips.  Even a brief question can lead to further discussion, and you might make a connection or form a friendship you wouldn’t have otherwise.  Recognize that some things just have to be learned the hard way — through experience.  Ask for advice, think about what other people have to say, and ultimately do your best to make the decisions that are right for you.

If you need any help relating to college admissions, feel free to reach out to us at College Compass – a college admission consulting program by Everest Education. We have assisted many students get into top colleges in the world, including Harvard, Stanford, Duke, Cornell, Williams, Amherst… Read the story of My Hien – a College Compass alumni who who received a full-ride scholarship from Harvard last year here: 



9. Take time to break (and reflect)

When university application deadlines approach, you’ll want to focus your time and energy on doing your best in your classes, but make sure to take time for yourself.  High school can get stressful, particularly in your final year, but all your hard work will pay off in the end!  Different people have different ways to manage stress. 

Take a step back to relax, and leave space for yourself to do reflection.  Reflection is also a natural part of learning, which allows you to reflect on academic and social-emotional growth. This can feel like just one more thing to cram into an already too-short course.  But stopping to take a breath rather than jumping right to the next project or activity helps students learn from mistakes and recognize strengths and weaknesses.  It can make the difference between success and failure, in school and beyond. 

10. Enjoy high school! 

The high school years will fly by.  Take your time and don’t let things get you down.  It won’t be memorable if your only memories are of you sitting alone in your room watching tv or listening to music.  The best memories are the ones you make with your friends on crazy adventures, where nothing happens twice.  Be intentional about making memories and having fun.  Be the person who cheers for their team, asks someone to dance, and has fun with their friends.  Those are the memories that you could one day tell your grandkids!

Take lots of pictures. Get pictures of social events, parties, important moments, and just humorous or extremely memorable moments. You can never have too many memories!  Chances are you’re not going to the same college or university as all your friends next year, so now’s the time to take pictures and capture those unforgettable moments with your friends.  Go on your senior trip.  Buy your high school yearbook and have everyone sign it.  Make a photo collage or a photo album.  These activities are sometimes overhyped, but the moment when you graduate from high school, you’ll know how precious those photos and memories are.

To sum it up…

High school is a great time to figure out who you are as a student, friend, and peer.  Some things, like dances, some friendships, and many memories are fleeting.  But the lessons you collect from your experiences will stay with you.  You’ll face challenges no matter how you approach high school.  Sometimes, you’ll come out on top of these challenges, but other times, you’ll mess up or make a wrong decision and face the consequences.  Think of high school like a dress rehearsal.  You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll also improve immensely by learning from those mistakes.  Be open to new opportunities, and challenge yourself to be present. Let’s be back to school, we know you can make it your best year yet!

Should you have any concerns or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more useful articles about college admission and studying coverage at


Simple techniques to help your child build friendships on her first days of school

Simple techniques to help your child build friendships on her first days of school

Isn’t it heartbreaking when a child comes home from school and utters the words “no-one wants to play with me”?

“I don’t have anyone to play with.”,  “No one wanted to play with me.”… Have you ever heard your child say that on the day she came back from school? Is your child having trouble developing friendships? Does she have a very bad personality that other kids can’t put up with? If your child doesn’t get invited places or have anyone to hang out with, it can be hard not to wonder – and worry.

Making and keeping friends is a skill.  If kids struggle with it, it might not have anything to do with personality.  It doesn’t mean your child isn’t likable or funny.  It may just mean your child needs a hand building social skills. And just like kids need to practice their skills to improve in a specific sport, social skills need to be practiced regularly as well.

In this article, we offer some useful tips on how to coach your child about communication skills that will help them make and keep friends.

Making friends is a skill

Friendship is a big part of life.  “Your child needs buddies as much as she needs food and exercise,” says Fred Frankel, Ph.D., director of the UCLA Parent Training & Children’s Friendship Program and author of Friends Forever.  One review of research found that children who find it challenging to make and keep friends are more likely to drop out of school and have mental issues like aggression and depression as teenagers.  Those who can effectively navigate social situations have less anxiety and greater self-confidence, notes Kristen Eastman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Having said that, making friends doesn’t come naturally to everyone.  The ability to make and keep friends is a skill that has to be learned.  It’s trickier than it seems.  It involves things like:

  • Starting a conversation and keeping it going
  • Responding to social cues
  • Interacting in a positive way
  • Listening and understanding what others are saying

For many kids, making friends comes easily because they have these social skills.  Or they build them quickly as they get older.  But some kids take longer, especially kids who learn and think differently.  

For example, some kids get too nervous or anxious to talk to other kids.  If they do join a conversation, they might have trouble coming up with things to talk about.   If a conversation never starts, then a friendship is hard to come by.  Or they may start talking about something the other kids aren’t interested in, and not notice that the other kids are tuning out.  It’s hard to bond, too, if you don’t understand social rules.  For example, there are natural pauses in conversations that help us take turns talking.  Some kids barrel through these or interrupt.  Even if it’s not on purpose, the result is the same:  Other kids can’t get a word in.

Keep in mind that even if kids have the skills to make friends, it’s possible they haven’t met the right people yet.  Friendship is often based on common interests.  If your child is different in some way, or gets singled out, that can make other kids shy away.

While most kids start forging friendships on their own when they start school, even the most outgoing children will face social challenges at some point.  Preschoolers are still developing the ability to share things and play nicely with others, which often leads to conflicts, and early grade-schoolers can be selfish, bossy, and exclusionary. 

Parents can help your child get better at making friends

You may have a socially adept child who has intuitively picked up great social skills by watching you or their peers.  But there are many kids who need some extra parental support in this area.  Of course, you simply can’t make friends for him.  You can, however, give him the tools he needs to be social and to be a good friend.

1. Take time to observe and understand how your child socializes

Attend a few activities at school (or sports after school) and pay close attention to how your child interacts with others.  Does she behave differently than her “norm” at home?  If so, why?  Your child may have a tough time starting conversations.  She may have anxiety in large groups or a fear of public speaking that keeps her from meaningfully engaging with other children.  Does she prefer to keep to herself and observe instead of joining in?  

Depending on what behavior you see, you can then decide where to focus your attention, what skills need building, and how you can contribute. “Trust your instincts, because you know your kid best,” says pediatric behavioral health specialist Kristen Eastman, PsyD.

2. Read (and talk) about friendship

“Children learn so much through the narrative of a great story. Look for books that feature friendships, compassion, and sharing,” says Lee Scott, a member of the Educational Advisory Board for The Goddard School and an education consultant in Okatie, South Carolina. “Talking about the characters, their feelings, and the story’s outcomes will help your children learn how to be a friend. A few of our favorites are A mountain of friends by Kerstin Schoene, Elephant & Piggie – a book collection of meaningful stories about friendship by the famous author Mo Willems, and Wonder by R. J. Palacio – reviewed as “a glorious exploration of the nature of friendship, tenacity, fear, and most importantly, kindness” by the Huffington Post.

>>> Check out some books that encourage empathy.

Explore open reading spaces at Everest Education’s libraries

These books are now available at Everest Education’s libraries – where children can get access to English books, e-books, digital audiobooks, movies, magazines, games, and many other traditional and digital resources. Parents can bring your child over to read, check out, and exchange books without losing a penny. 

>>> Learn more about E2 Libraries at: https://e2.com.vn/e2-library/

3. Model positive social behavior

Show your child how to be a good friend and make friends.  The best way is to model the behavior you would like to see.  There are several ways you can accomplish this at home:

  • Help your child realize his own strengths.
  • Have a sense of humor about yourself and your shortcomings.
  • Listen to your child without criticism.
  • Be kind, give compliments, wave to a friend, open the door for someone.
  • Be understanding of what others are going through by showing empathy.
  • Don’t complain. Instead, teach your children to accept what can’t be changed by working hard to change the things that can.

Children really do learn by example, so be mindful of how you interact with others.  Every time you strike up conversations with friends or neighbors, or even the check-out person at the grocery store, your child is aware.  Almost every scenario becomes a learning opportunity, allowing your child to see how you join in, negotiate, and problem-solve.

4. Teach kids how to start a conversation

Most children love to talk about themselves, and asking good questions is often the entry point for building friendships.  Brainstorm with your child what types of questions they might ask to get to know another person.  For example: Do you play any sports?  What do you like to do after school?  What’s your favorite recess game? What’s in your lunch?  How many brothers and sisters do you have?  Who’s your teacher? 

To make it easier, parents can have kids practice at the dinner table by playing the role of potential friend and have your child initiate some questions, taking turns being the one asking questions and the one answering.  And last but not least,  have your child practice on someone at school and report back to you how it goes.  Remind them to use questioning when opportunities come up for talking with other kids.

Of course, going along with asking questions is listening to the answer and asking follow-up questions. Kids who master question-asking, listening, and follow-up are well-liked because they give people the opportunity to share about themselves.

5. Encourage them to be extend the invitations

For a friendship to begin, someone has to take action.  This can be one person inviting another to do something or it can be joining in with what a child or group is already doing.  Explain this concept and brainstorm simple, low-risk invitations:  Do you want to play basketball or something else (during recess)?  Can I sit next to you?  Do you want to play catch?  Would you like to come over after school? 

Another way to connect is for the child to ask to join a game.  It’s important for the child to recognize that it’s not always appropriate to ask to join, because it won’t be well-received if it disrupts the flow of play.  Sometimes, in the middle of a game, it’s difficult to include a new player.  So, rather than asking to join right then, the child can assess what others are doing and say, “Hey, can I play the next game?” rather than intruding at the midway point.

6. Foster empathy and sympathetic concern for others

Empathy is a social skill that is difficult to teach and, in fact, difficult to define.  Generally, empathy is our ability to sense others’ emotions and imagine what they may be thinking or feeling. Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., calls empathic responses “standard-issue, grown-up social skills,” yet even adults have trouble with them.  If adults struggle with empathy, how much more difficult must it be for children!  But self-awareness, self-regulation, and the ability to take another’s perspective are all skills children must come to know. 

Children learn to empathize, care, and consider other perspectives by participating in activities that help others.  Have young ones start by helping you with simple tasks, such as creating a get-well card for a sick friend, collecting unused toys for children’s hospitals, or making cookies for a neighbor… will teach them the meaning of fostering empathy, perspective-taking, and sympathy in kids.

Besides feeling concern for others, being able to comprehend the circumstances of others can enhance helping or sharing behaviors that are sensitive toward the condition of others.  For example, as a study demonstrated, older children shared more stickers with a peer who looked sad and had fewer toys even by giving up their own. This is different from simply sharing equal numbers of stickers with peers regardless of each one’s personal circumstance.

>>> Check out some easy steps to build empathy and kindness in your children.

7. Offer a variety of opportunities for kids to play and socialize

Host friends over for playdates or lunch.  Find and sign-up your child for group activities such as art, drama or dance.  Joining afterschool activities is also a good way for tweens to meet kids with common interests.  Once your child feels confident with kids in that group, she may want to hang out one-on-one. 

Additionally, you can include your child when talking to people out of her normal range of peers. 

Take her to visit a neighbor, or bring her along to the local libraries at the weekend.  If your child loves comics, maybe there’s a bookstore or library with a reading group.  The more she is exposed to interacting with all kinds of people, the more she will learn to do the same.

>>> If your family are living in Ho Chi Minh city, here are some of our favorite kid-friendly libraries that offer great books and learning resources: https://blog.e2.com.vn/explore-top-4-libraries-for-families-in-ho-chi-minh-city/

Parting words…

Your child’s friendships are bound to have ups and downs, but the right approach can help her smooth the bumps.  Learning to build friendships is one of the ways children develop into well-rounded, emotionally healthy human beings.  By giving your child the skills she needs to be confident and compassionate, you increase the likelihood that friends will eagerly come into her life.  And friends will give her life a richness and happiness she will always treasure.

Should you have any concerns or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at https://blog.e2.com.vn/e2-talk-tips-and-tricks-parents/


7 books to inspire your kid to be a great leader

7 books to inspire your kid to be a great leader

Leaders are a fundamental part of any functioning society, even in a small community in your children’s world: whether it’s helping a team score the final point in a basketball game, organizing a community project to promote recycling, or something as simple as taking the lead to help another student understand a mathematical concept in class.  There is no such thing as a “natural-born leader”, these are skills that we develop as children and then continue to strengthen over time.

Parents are well-positioned to be the first leadership developers of their children. And yet, we find that most parents do not take a deliberate approach to grow leadership in their kids. Parents work to give them an “early start” in English, math, music, or sports, but for some reason wait until they are older to talk about leading. This article will give you the encouragement and tools to jump-start leadership conversations with your young children. 

One of the best sources for timely lessons about building leadership skills comes in the form of books, with important takeaways for leading teams and working together more effectively.  Parents can help to nurture these skills in children by encouraging them to read certain books that promote these habits. 

While something like “7 Habits of Highly Effective Preschoolers” might be a bit excessive, there are some simple stories and ideas on leadership in the books below that will help young children build the traits and skills that will set them on the path to becoming courageous, compassionate and positive leaders. 

This article gives you a shortlist of children’s books that teach great lessons about leadership for children, as maybe adults as well.  And best of all, these books are already translated into Vietnamese, you can easily find them in the local bookstores or libraries.

For Toddlers and Primary Readers

1. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

A boy named Duncan opens his box of crayons one day and finds it empty.  Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon.  Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water.  And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.  What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Kids will be imagining their own humorous conversations with crayons and coloring a blue streak after sharing laughs with Drew Daywalt and New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers.  This story is perfect as a back-to-school gift!

Why we love it: The Crayons decide to leave their home due to various grievances, which include overwork, boredom, and professional jealousy.  In the end, a solution is reached that makes everyone happy.  This funny story shows that part of leading is about understanding the perspectives and feelings of others.  And maybe after discussing with your child about the importance of each individual and how to treat them fairly as a leader, you can read to your child the second book of this story – The Day the Crayons Came Home – a happy ending for our lovely Duncan and his Crayons.

Recommended ages: 3 – 7

2. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

“OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”

A modern classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was first published one year before Dr. Seuss’s death at the age of eighty-seven. For out-starting upstarts of all ages, here is a wonderfully wise and blessedly brief graduation speech from the one and only Dr. Seuss.  In a mere fifty-six pages, Dr, Seuss managed to impart a lifetime of wisdom. It is the perfect send-off for children starting out in the maze of life, be they nursery school grads or newly-minted Ph.D.’s. Everyone will find it inspiring and good fun. 

Why we love it: This classic encourages children to have confidence in themselves and broaden their horizons. Yet it doesn’t shy away from telling them that they’ll face a variety of challenges along the way; it gives them the encouragement that they have the potential to do whatever they set their mind to.

Recommended ages: 4 – 8

For self readers

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!  But only five lucky children will be allowed inside.  

And the winners are Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

Why we love it: Set in the wondrous chocolate factory of the eccentric Willy Wonka, this classic children’s novel is commonly read as a tale about morality.  The inherent goodness of Charlie Bucket is amplified against the greed of Augustus Gloop, the brattiness of Veruca Salt, the competitiveness of Violet Beauregarde, and the arrogance of Mike Teavee.  There’s an alternate reading here with an important takeaway for leaders: to build a world-class team, it’s important to consider cultural fit and shared values in addition to skills and experience.  As it turns out, Willy Wonka was a trailblazing recruiter.

Recommended ages: 8 – 12

4. I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafza with Patricia McCormick

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school.

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. 

Why we love it: This special edition of Malala’s biography is formatted for younger readers. Boys and girls will be inspired by Malala’s quiet bravery. Malala’s powerful story opens their eyes to another world and will make them believe in hope, truth, miracles, and the possibility that one person — one young person — can inspire change in her community and beyond.

Recommended ages: 12+

5. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

“So many things around you are reusable. Where others see garbage, I see opportunity.”

This is a gripping memoir of survival and perseverance about the heroic young inventor who brought electricity to his Malawian village.

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. 

Why we love it: Like Malala’s story, this book is a reminder to kids that they are indeed powerful and can change the world.  In this true story, William Kamkwamba sets out to build his own windmill to ensure his village can survive another drought.  Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy’s brilliant idea can light up the world. Complete with photographs, illustrations, and an epilogue that will bring readers up to date on William’s story, this is the perfect edition to read and share with the whole family.

Recommended ages: 12+

6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers.  A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine.  

Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut – young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity.  Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. 

Why we love it: Ender’s Game is a classic. Not only does the book make for enjoyable reading at the surface level, but it also is littered with hidden leadership lessons. As a leader, Ender faces many challenges: isolation, confrontation, and more. He must gain the support and reverence of his subordinates who were formerly peers.

Recommended ages: 14+

7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The Alchemist is one of the most widely read novels of all time and continues to inspire its readers in many ways.  The book follows the journey of a young shepherd, Santiago, who faces numerous challenges from both external forces and from his own desires.  The leadership lessons that can be learned from Santiago’s journey is worth a read.  The Alchemist’s lessons are in line with the theme of the book: you can only find the answers you seek within yourself, no one is going to answer them for you.  Santiago must look inside himself to realize his life goals and overcome the difficulties on his path.  Friends and teachers may help guide the way, but ultimately Santiago reaches his goal by himself and through his own perseverance.

Why we love it: The Alchemist will teach your child to have a trusting heart.  Santiago must interrupt “good omens” on his own and trust his intuition to recognize them.  A good leader can trust their instincts and be able to be confident in their decision.  Not every decision in life is going to be black and white.  Emotions are a reliable and legitimate reason to make a decision.  Of course, leaders also need to recognize when they are biased as well, which influences a feeling about a decision.  Making a decision based on feelings could also be out of place if you are making a convenient decision.  A good leader knows when they are afraid or biased and works out these feelings before making a decision.

Recommended ages: 14+

Explore open reading spaces at Everest Education’s libraries

These books are now available at Everest Education’s libraries – where children can get access to English books, e-books, digital audiobooks, movies, magazines, games, and many other traditional and digital resources. Parents can bring your child over to read, check out, and exchange books without losing a penny. 

>>> Learn more about E2 Libraries at https://e2.com.vn/e2-library/

Some Questions That Spark Great Kid Conversation

It’s never too early to start giving your kids lessons in leading others. Talking to your children about the books they read is one of the best ways to help your child cultivate these lessons, and support her literacy development. Below are some sample questions that you can use in the follow-up stage to hold a book talk with your child.

  • What does this book teach us about leadership?
  • Who do you admire in this book? Why?
  • What other choices did ____ have?
  • What would you have done in this situation? Why?
  • What do you think happens next in this story?

You can also learn more best practices on guided reading, and some techniques to use before, during and after reading to make the most out of the storytime with your child in our older article: https://blog.e2.com.vn/the-difference-between-teaching-kids-to-read-and-teaching-kids-to-love-reading/

Should you have any concerns or any topics you want us to cover, feel free to leave your comments below.  You can subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox, and find more parenting coverage at

6 free audio books for kids to enhance reading and listening

6 free audio books for kids to enhance reading and listening

Reading a book can be a challenging task for kids, especially kids who have difficulties in reading or have trouble paying attention.  In the hustle and bustle of daily life, reading also does not incorporate into the busy schedule.  Not many parents can sit for hours to read a book to their children.  That is why the industry of audiobooks is growing rapidly.

Audiobooks have traditionally been used with second-language learners, learning-disabled students, and struggling readers or nonreaders.  However, after a few decades, audiobooks have proven to be successful in helping these students to access literature and enjoy books.  Listening to audiobooks can provide a wealth of support for readers of all ages, help them gain more knowledge and joy in the very little time that students have.  Audiobooks also are a perfect treat for a sick day or a private listening experience anytime. 

In this article, we want to introduce some amazing benefits that audiobooks can bring to your children, and include a list of resources that provide excellent audiobooks for free.  Check them out and tune in during quiet time this summer!

What is Audiobook?

An audiobook is voice recordings of the text of a book that you listen to rather than read.  They can be exact word-for-word versions of books or abridged versions.  Audiobooks have been around since the 1970s and have come in many forms over the years including cassette tapes and CDs.  You can listen to audiobooks on any smartphone, tablet, computer, home speaker system, or in-car entertainment system.  

Audiobooks are usually purchased and downloaded in the same way as digital music and video.  They can also be purchased from online bookstores or downloaded free from public domain sites.

5 amazing benefits of audiobooks

We’re happy to report that audiobooks offer tons of brain benefits – from improved reading comprehension to an expanded vocabulary. 

  1. Audiobooks can help improve your child’s comprehension and vocabulary

Hearing new words – independent of or in combination with reading them – can significantly help with comprehension and vocabulary, especially for kids learning English as a second language.  Just as early elementary school classes encourage children to new readers to say words aloud, audiobooks promote the same healthy learning habits.  Mary Beth Crosby Carroll from The Children’s School in Brooklyn, NY, told Scholastic that “following along visually while listening can enhance word-recognition ability, while listening alone can expand vocabulary.”  Audiobooks provide unique context clues and intonations that can help readers better understand the meaning and application of specific words.

  1. Audiobooks may help our brains better imagine the story

The vivid images and jump-off-the-page characters in books create a sort of magic, no matter the format.  But a study conducted by the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior found that our brains are actually more likely to create meaningful imagery when we listen to a story – as opposed to when it’s read in a traditional format – because it allows more room for our brain’s visual processes to kick into gear. This explains, in part, why so many younger children love when someone reads to them!

  1. Compared to reading, listening to audiobooks can help kids attach deeper meaning to phrases

When your child reads a book, a lot of focus is placed on filling in gaps: voices, sounds, settings, accents, and more.  Dr. Art Markman from The University of Texas tested whether hearing a proverb versus reading it resulted in a difference in comprehension.  

The results showed that when we hear a statement like “empty vessels make the most noise,” we’re more likely to connect this to other proverbs that have similar deep meanings.  But when we read that same proverb, our brain will pick out the literal elements rather than those that contribute to its deeper meaning, making us more likely to associate that proverb with others that mention wheels.  According to Markman, because we can’t go back and “reread” audiobooks as easily, we’re inadvertently forcing our brains to extract deeper meanings more quickly.  In other words, listening to audiobooks enables the mind to comprehend phrases at a faster speed.

  1. Listening to a story rather than watching one can spark a more emotional response

According to a study from University College London, people have a more emotional reaction when listening to a novel than they do when watching an adaptation.  When we listen to a story, our brain has to create more content, such as imagery, to supplant the words.  This helps create a “greater emotional and physiological engagement than watching the scene on a screen, as measured by both heart rate and electro-dermal activity,” according to conclusions drawn by Dr. Joseph Levin.

Psychology Today cites audio as “one of the most intimate forms of media—listeners work together with the narrator and author to create mental pictures of situations and characters.  Audiobooks can captivate the imagination, allowing listeners to create a whole world at once within and outside themselves.”  Being able to escape our daily worries is a powerful tool that we can easily tap into through the wonder of audiobooks.

  1. Audiobooks may offer a welcome alternative for children having reading difficulties

Young children, and people with dyslexia, and those who are auditory learners may find that they can retain more of the story when listening to audiobooks than when reading the written word.  Audiobooks allow children to hear fluent reading and — especially for growing readers — listen to what reading should sound like. 

These are keys to future reading successes. When children listen to audiobooks, they hear firsthand the proper pacing and intonations of reading, how punctuation should sound, and how reading should sound. Ideally, they will transfer that knowledge to their own reading, both independent and aloud.

Using audiobooks in conjunction with actual hard copies of books allows kids to follow the words on the page with their eyes as they listen to the words being read. The shared visual and audio reading experience provides extra support for readers: They learn to pronounce new words, hear fluent readings, and get to enjoy a new story.

Where to get free audiobooks?

There are endless reasons why audiobooks are an essential part of learning – time to get the kids listening anywhere and everywhere!  On the internet, there are dozens of websites that provide free audiobooks and digital books.  Here are a few helpful sites that share audio versions of books to use alone or in conjunction with hard copies.

1. StoryNory

StoryNory is a British site featuring free downloadable and streaming stories for young children. Titles include fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and classics like Alice in Wonderland. Each audiobook includes the digital text of the book.  This site offers free audio downloads of classic fairy tales, myths, world fairy tales, fables, 1001 Nights, and more. StoryNory is a particularly good option for young kids and students in elementary and middle school.

2. Lit2Go

Lit2Go provides free audiobook versions of books that are no longer protected by copyright laws.  Lit2Go offers downloadable PDFs of books so your child can read along as she listens to classics like The Call of the Wild. The site also categorizes books by reading level.  What we love about this site is that it’s not only packed with hundreds of free audiobooks, but many of the books and poems have free PDFs to download and print so that children can read along, highlight, and mark up the passage being read.

3. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is an online resource, housing more than 45,000 audiobook, including a sizable library of children’s classical literature by some of the world’s most beloved authors. The stories can be downloaded to read on your computers, an e-reader, or other mobile device and some of the stories can be downloaded as audiobooks.

4. Spotify

You or your child might use this popular streaming service to listen to music, but did you know they also offer audiobooks? You’ll need a free (or paid) account to listen, but if your child doesn’t mind hearing a few ads now and then, she’ll be able to stream audiobooks for free. The best thing about Spotify’s selection is the opportunity to hear literature read by the authors themselves. There are also books read by great actors, including Harry Potter read by Daniel Radcliffe, Sherlock Holmes read by Sir John Gieguld, as well as classics from Shakespeare, Jane Austen, literature from women authors, fairy tales for kids…

5. Storyline Online

Sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Storyline Online isn’t strictly an audiobook service. Instead, the site features videos of actors reading popular picture books. For young children who might miss the pictures in an audiobook, this site offers some good options. Each book also includes a free accompanying activity guide to engage children in learning about the story, both online and offline. Check out Betty White reading Harry the Dirty Dog, James Earl Jones reading To Be a Drum, and Ernest Borgnine reading The Rainbow Fish.

6. Audible

Audible – one of the world’s largest collection of audiobooks, – is offering free audiobooks for kids during school closures. Through Audible stories, Audible allows anyone, anywhere, to access over 200 full-length audiobooks for free for the duration of school closures. There’s no log-in or registration required and it’s not a free trial. All the titles in the collection are available to stream straight from the web and there’s no limit to how much people can listen. The collection is geared toward children but there are some audiobooks suitable for adults too, and many read by familiar voices, including Alice In Wonderland (read by Scarlett Johansson), Jane Eyre (read by Thandie Newton), Anne of Green Gables (read by Rachel McAdams) and Frankenstein (read by Dan Stevens).

The platform made the announcement via social media, writing: “We wish you and your loved-ones good health and we hope that listening to a good story will offer some respite during these unsettling times.”  

It’s all part of the global effort to pull together and support children at this time so they can keep on learning, as Audible put it: “Continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.”

Parting words…

Audiobooks can also change the way we listen, read, and learn, improving the literacy of young readers and those for whom English is a second language. They can make learning a much easier process, and allow your child to absorb new knowledge and experiences while still being active.