Reading aloud to your kids is one of the very best gifts you can give them.  With our busy schedules these days, it can be difficult to find time to read every day.  Here are some of my favorite tips for fitting reading aloud into your family’s busy schedule.

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When to Read to Babiesreading to babies

Snuggle up close, and read several times a day for 2-3 minutes each time.  As your baby becomes more content listening, extend the amount of time that you read.

I always loved to read to my babies and toddlers during or after each feeding or meal, and of course before bed. I wanted my son and daughter to start anticipating book time, and for it to be a completely normal, expected part of our lives.

When to Read to Preschoolers

With preschoolers, you can read aloud after breakfast, after lunch/before nap-time, and during an afternoon snack.  If your kids go to a sitter or daycare, squeeze in a quick book in the morning before you leave, and send books along with your children.

Let your caregiver know that you want your child to hear a book read aloud at least once during the day. In the late afternoon or early evening, sharing a book and a snack together can ease the transition home, taking the edge off that dreaded “witching hour.”  This was a hard one for me to stick to, but the benefits were undeniable – the rest of our evening was much calmer when I managed to slow down and re-connect with my preschoolers over a story soon after we arrived home for the day.

Create a Break During Homeworkreading to kids

For school-aged children, you can squeeze in a quick read aloud during breakfast, and then again right after school during snack-time, before kids run off to play or start homework.

Reading aloud to kids is also a great break option to offer during homework. When tackling homework gets to be too much and your child needs a break, read aloud a favorite book for five or ten minutes before continuing.

Tame a Tantrum

For children of any age, reading aloud can be a great way to soothe crankiness, diffuse a tantrum, or distract and divert from mischief. Pull out a family favorite and start reading out loud any time you need to lift the mood or tame the chaos in your home.

Keep Books Handy

Keep a selection of books available in the car, for children to flip through on their own, or for you to read aloud while someone else is driving.  Take them along to doctor’s appointments and read aloud while you are waiting, rather than relying on your phone to entertain your child.

Use decorative baskets to store books throughout your home.  Easy access makes it much more likely that you’ll reach for a book when you want to spend some quality time with your kids.  Make books as common as toys in your home, and turn to them as much, or even more than you turn to screen-time to entertain, sooth, or divert your kids.

The Bedtime Read Aloud

With children of any age, make reading aloud an expected, treasured part of your children’s bedtime routine.  Ending the day by enjoying books together is a wonderful way to create and strengthen family bonds.

Gather everyone in the house – all adults and children of any age – for this evening ritual. Bringing together everyone in the house at the end of the day to experience the same book is a powerful tradition that sends a clear message – this is a family of readers! Maintained over time, this ritual can knit your family together in a way that few other activities can match.

 

 

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