Now that Nathan's older we let him keep some toys and books in his crib. When he wakes up in the morning he'll sit and play with his toys, giving Will and me a few precious extra minutes in bed, while we listen to Nathan "talking" to his stuffed animals.
And when we put him down, if he's not quite ready to go to sleep, he can entertain himself, rather than screaming for us to let him out. Lately, it appears that he's been doing some bedtime reading, although he only gets through a page or two before falling asleep with the book open next to him.
Like mama, like baby.