We love it when parents read storybooks with their preschoolers everyday. But sometimes, for logistics or other reasons, it can be hard to find the time – especially for parents who are working long hours or shifts (and often commuting long distances), and parents who may have reading or other communication challenges themselves.
For parents who are struggling to find the time or energy to read with their kids regularly, we recommend audiobooks. While they lack the interaction you get from shared “live” book-reading, audiobooks can be the next best thing, e.g. when a parent is driving or away at work.
Here are two ideas (and 20 free resources) to help you get started:
1. Free Classic tales
Listening to audiobooks of classic stories – at home, or just as background sounds in the car – can help. It gives preschoolers exposure to enriched vocabulary, complex sentence structures, “story grammar” and important background knowledge of the world, including cultural references many of us take for granted.
Here are 20 of my favourites, each with a YouTube link for immediate, free access. Thanks again to CoreKnowledge for its suggestions, supplemented by some of our favourites:
If your preschoolers likes these, check out our free audiobooks for Kindergarten and Year 1 kids.
2. Do it yourself audiobooks!
A few years ago, I stumbled on “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease. It’s a fantastic resource, which gave me the idea of making my own audiobooks. Thanks to new technology, it’s never been easier to do it.
Does your child have a favourite story – one they like to listen to over and over? If so, simply grab your smart phone, find the voice recording app (or, even better, the video function), and record yourself reading it. Email it to yourself and – just like that – you have an audiobook ready to share with your kids any time, anywhere.
Another great thing about DIY audiobooks: you can make them for kids (or adults) of any age. For example, here’s one I made for my (now) teenager a few years ago. I made it on Garageband, on an old iMac, but I could just as easily have done it with my phone these days.
Just don’t play this one to your preschooler – it’s a bit scary!
If you take us up on our tip and decide to make your own audiobook, we’d love to hear about it.
Principal source: Trelease, J. (1995). The Read-Aloud Handbook, Penguin Books, NY, NY.
- Is your child in Kindergarten or Year 1? 36 great free audiobooks to listen to at home or in the car
- 41 more free audiobooks for children: this time, for students in Years 2 to 6
- Read non-fiction books to your late talkers and preschoolers: here’s why
- Resources to learn grammar: using auditory bombardment to improve kids’ expression and grammar skills
- Speaking for themselves: why I choose ambitious goals to help young children put words together
Banter Speech & Language is owned and managed by David Kinnane, a Hanen- and LSVT LOUD-certified speech-language pathologist with post-graduate training in the PreLit early literacy preparation program by MultiLit, the Spalding Method for literacy, the Lidcombe and Camperdown Programs for stuttering, and Voicecraft for voice disorders. David is also a Certified PESL Instructor for accent modification.
David holds a Master of Speech Language Pathology from the University of Sydney, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. David is a Practising Member of Speech Pathology Australia and a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP). David is a part-time Associate Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney’s Graduate School of Health. David sits on Speech Pathology Australia’s Ethics Board and Professional Standards Advisory Committee.