Inside: Simplify Read-Aloud Time for Your Family
We all know that reading aloud to your kids matters, right?
Actually, it more than matters. It’s a guaranteed easy button to set up your child for academic success, to bond with parents, and to cultivate lifelong learning habits in them.
But we also have the reality of full, often busy lives. However, even without magical extra hours in the day, there are ways to make reading aloud a priority.
Think that sounds overwhelming? Let’s simplify it with some easy tips.
Start With Ten Minutes
Experts say that as little as 10-15 minutes a day of reading aloud to a child makes a difference. Did you catch that? You can start with reading aloud only 10 minutes a day as often as you can to spark the awesome benefits.
We’re betting you can find 10 minutes to squeeze in somewhere. When it’s a priority, it’s easier to make it happen.
Once you start reading aloud, you and your child will want to keep going past 10 minutes. Making time to sit down can be the hard part. But, once you start reading, it’s easy to extend it.
Add it to Routine
- Meals: Your kids eat breakfast every day, right? Read for a few minutes while their mouths are full. (This is especially helpful when they’re little and less apt to sit in one place to listen.)
- Bedtime or Bathtime: Maybe bedtime reading works better for your family. Work it into the routine. If your kids are small, try reading to them while they’re in the bath. Or reward quick bedtime preparation with longer reading time snuggled together on the couch.
- Set Time: Choose a specific time of day for read-alouds and stick to it as often as possible. Maybe it’s when everyone gets home from an activity and needs to be restful. Or maybe it’s at the start of the day or else you’ll never fit it in between other activities. Find what works well and shift when necessary for summer and holidays.
Partnering read-aloud time with another daily routine or sticking to a certain time of day helps set the expectation (for you and them) that reading will usually happen then.
Accept Occasional “Failure”
Kids will be wiggly. Some books won’t be engaging. Sometimes it will seem like a complete waste of time.
But even on the days it feels like a failure, it’s not.
Trust us. We’ve talked with many parents who have continued reading aloud despite the discouraging days. They always reap the benefits of trusting that the accumulative time invested makes a difference.
Do you have a designated place in your house for what you’re currently reading aloud (or want to read next)? If not, grab an empty basket, box, bookshelf spot, or corner of your home and start a stack. Make it easier to grab a book and sit down with your kids. If you have a visual, you’re more likely to remember.
Here are a few options that are functional and pretty. They’re also not wire baskets, which tend to be a little rough on book covers.
Bonus: having one just for library books can help you avoid overdue or lost book fines. Designate a library book basket and everyone will know exactly where to put them after reading.
Create a Busy Hands Box
You know those wiggly kids? They’re still listening while being active. But you can make read-aloud time come together more smoothly by having quiet activities ready to go in a moment’s notice.
Instead of gathering things each time, put together a box of items to keep your child’s hands busy and their voices quiet while you read. Have a plastic bin (or any type of container) close by with modeling clay, special coloring things, lacing cards, Plus Plus blocks, or other quiet activities for read aloud time.
When it’s time for those 10+ minutes to read aloud, grab the busy hands box and a book from the book basket. You’re ready to go without any time wasted!
Choose Worthwhile Books
There are many wonderful stories with which some people simply don’t connect. But if you never explore options, you remove the fun of finding the favorites.
Of course, no one wants to waste too much time wading through unworthy options. You’ll increase your chances at finding ones your family loves by reading tried-and-true books that are generally known to be excellent.
And that doesn’t require them to be written during another era. There are plenty of old and new options. At Learning Through Literature, we have standards for what makes a book great and a list of 50 excellent books to get you started. If you’re looking for a specific genre or subject, search our Book Finder for one that strikes your fancy.
Read widely and read well to find those favorites.
Audio Books for Bonus Points
You have to drive your kids places. Use that time. Squeeze in some extra bonding over an audio book you can all listen to in the car. It’s not a replacement for sitting together and reading aloud to them, but it’s another way to create a habit of listening to stories and following along quietly.
Think of it like bonus points for read-aloud time.
Here are some of our favorite ways to access audio books:
- Audible (affiliate)
- Overdrive (free!)
- Librivox (also free…hit or miss for quality but great for finding older books)
- Library physical copies (CDs, etc)
Remember the Superpower
Reading to your kids is a parenting superpower. Remembering this fact can make it easier to set aside time for it.
When a day feels like it’s spiraling out of control, you’ll be amazed by the calming effect of reading together. Grab a book, snuggle up, and press that super easy reset button. A favorite picture book is a great choice.
You will never, ever regret reading aloud to your children. Even if everyone ends up disliking a book you read, it’s still shared memories and time spent together. These are the things they want and need from you more than anything.
You won’t look back on their childhood and wish you’d browsed social media more often. You’ll be sentimental about the time you spent reading with them, and they’ll remember it fondly. These are the memories we all want to create.
Whatever things help you simplify reading aloud to your kids, just go for it. Move forward by trying one or two ideas and see if they help. What works for you might be different from someone else, but the goal is the same.
Simplify and prioritize read-aloud time to connect as a family!