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Pre-K

7 Tricks to Introducing Your Preschooler to Audiobooks

by Janssen Bradshaw

Photo credit: Juhan Sonin via Flickr CC

As I write this, my 4-year-old daughter is listening to a Beverly Cleary audiobook and coloring.

When she was 18-months-old, she was miserable to take anywhere in the car, always begging to play on my phone or just whining constantly. In desperation, I checked out a few picture books from the library that came with CDs and had her follow along in the book while the audio played.

It worked like a charm! Going to the grocery store was no longer a horrifying drive, and sometimes we ended up sitting in our driveway when we returned home so she could finish listening to the latest book.

Not only did it make my life easier, it also introduced my daughter to new books, helped her get accustomed to listening to readers other than me, and expanded her vocabulary and attention span.

If you’re interested in introducing your child to audiobooks, here are some tricks.

1. Start out together. Sit down together and listen to the audio, while you both hold the book. Introduce them to the page-turn chime so they’ll know in the future when to turn the pages themselves.

2. Begin with books that are already familiar. Sometimes, it’s easier to start with a book they already know. Then they have a general feel for the storyline and illustrations, and will be more willing to listen to a new reader.

3. Try them in the car. The car is a great place to introduce them to audiobooks since it can be fairly dull in the backseat and there aren’t as many distractions.

4. Be willing to give up a book if they aren’t enjoying it. Just as not every book is a perfect fit, neither is every audiobook. If your child’s not enjoying the narrator or the story, just try another – there are plenty of other ones out there they’ll love.

5. Give them an overview of the book beforehand. If you’re starting a new book, and especially as you move into early chapter books, it can help to give your child a brief summary of the plot so they can follow the story more easily.

6. Let them play with their hands while they listen. I’ve always listened better when my hands are occupied. As an adult, I like to listen to audiobooks in the car, while I do dishes, or when I’m folding laundry. My daughter likes to listen while she colors, plays with LEGOs, or works with play dough.

7. Take your time moving up to harder books. Don’t be in a rush to jump right into chapter books or ditch the picture books. Keep rotating through various kinds, trying new authors, and progressing through series. And enjoy the ride!