Listen to a good book with your preschooler.
I confess. I grow tired of reading out loud. Gasp!
But, I've found a terrific way to get around this. I have started borrowing books on CD from the library. We snuggle up in my bed before naps or a night time and use the cheap boom box I've had for ages to listen to a chapter or two at a time from a good book.
Dwayne will often agree to listen with us, giving up some of his precious sleep time. More than anything, I think he does it because the back-scratchers are always handy on the bedside tables (you can see part of one in the top right-hand corner of the photo above) and Norah will scratch his back while we all listen. Side note: Dwayne's "trained" her to scratch his back since she could stand behind him on the couch or next to him as he lays on the floor. Here's proof:
Norah's two years old, if that, and she's scratching his back. In Dwayne's defense, Norah has never expressed a desire not to do this, so I think it is pretty sweet.
Originally, I got the idea for this from The Well Trained Mind, but I was a little hesitant to introduce yet another story to Norah in addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder book we read out loud almost everyday and any other little books we read here and there. I honestly wondered if Norah could remember two different novels, chapter after chapter, without getting confused or tangling the plots. I waited a little, giving it some thought, until one afternoon when Norah begged to watch a movie after just finishing an entirely different one earlier that day. It occurred to me that she is obviously very capable of following and remembering two story lines in one day; she does it all the time with movies!
If you are interested in what books to listen to with your preschoolers, there are suggestions in The Well Trained Mind. That list includes unabridged recordings of books like Peter Pan, The Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland. It was easy for me to find The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, so that is where we began. I've already put in a request for the next book in that series, so we can begin listening to it when we finish this book on CD.
I've also been using The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease for more ideas. He says something interesting about young children and their ability to listen to stories. He explains that an average first grader may only be able to read 350 words, but that same child's "listening vocabulary" actually "approaches 10,000 words." Trelease asserts that parents who do "Frequent reading aloud of 'controlled vocabulary'...insult to the listening vocabulary of your child."
So, children's story books, like the famous Dr. Suess titles, are most ideal for kids to read when they are practicing reading out loud for themselves, but parents can feel free to chose a book the whole family is more likely to enjoy when it is time for those preschool kids to listen. And, parents can do this without fearing that their little ones kids won't "get it."