Yes, kids do need to physically practice their reading skills-- but for those who find reading an awful chore, I strongly advocate letting them listen to an audiobook as a reading assignment.
They will never find the joy in reading a good novel if they are forced to read when they cannot do it, cannot focus, etc. But if teachers would allow those kids to experience their literature in an audio format, we just might make readers of them yet.
And reading with your ears is just as valuable as with your eyes. As a librarian who works with youth, I always allow audiobooks to count for the Summer Reading Program, in fact, I promote it as a way to earn reading credit. Teachers & parents should do the same!
Related article: Are audiobooks cheating our children?
Angela J. Reynolds is the Children's and Young Adult Librarian at Annapolis Valley Regional Library, P.O. Box 640, 26 Bay Road Bridgetown, NS CANADA B0S 1C0. Reynolds is also on the Notable Recordings for Children committee (part of ALSC/ALA), so she listen to a lot of books! You may contact Ms. Reynolds via the CCF Contact Form.