Reading aloud is a great activity to do with your kids! Not only does it encourage learning, imagination, and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, but it’s also a fun and easy way to bond. That being said, some kids are reluctant to the idea. Here are 6 tips for reading aloud to your kids that make it a fun experience for everyone!
I LOVE reading and books! We have books in almost every room in our house, and my kids know that reading is one of my favorite things in the whole world. They also know that I’ll never turn down “just one more book!” and that “Can you please read another chapter?” is basically my kryptonite. I just can’t say to no to reading aloud to my kids!
There’s just something so idyllic about curling up with my kids and getting lost in a good story together. The connection that comes from bonding over a good book is magical!
That being said, it’s not always easy to get kids to want to be read to. Today I’m sharing 6 tips for reading aloud to your kids. With these suggestions, your kids are bound to love reading time!
Tip #1: Get Your Kids Involved in the Process
The first tip is to let them be a part of the process. Maybe you let them pick out the books you read. Whether you’re reading a stack of picture books or one novel at a time, this helps kids get excited about reading and stay engaged with the book.
When we read picture books, I like to tell my kids that we each get to choose a book. That way I can choose a book I want them to hear, and they can still get their fix of Fancy Nancy or that annoying book we’ve read at least 2 billion times.
For novels, you could choose a handful and let them make the final choice, or go to the library and choose together. If there’s a book you really want to read with them, let them choose something else–like when you read, where you read, how long you read for, whether you read the book or watch the movie version first, etc.
I’m very much a “must read the book before you see the movie” advocate, but I’ve learned that watching the movie first really helps my son get excited to dive into a book. And I think that’s true for a lot of kids. So I’ve learned to let go and watch the movie first. If it gets him pumped up to read, it’s worth it!
The more we can involve our kids in the reading process, the more excited about it they’ll be!
Tip #2: Let Go of Expectations
I used to dream of the day I’d read aloud to my future children. I saw us all sitting quietly, cuddling, while reading chapter after chapter after chapter. I just knew it was going to be this wonderful experience every single time.
Then I had kids.
If this is your vision too, I hate to be the bearer of bad news 😬, but it probably won’t happen.
Obviously this will depend on the ages of your kids and their personalities and how many kids you have and how often you read aloud and more, but it’s not going to be this beautiful bonding experience every time 😅. It can be that, and the more you do it, the more of those good experiences you’ll have. But it takes some practice. And the first step is to let go of expectations.
You might want to read two chapters, but your kids might only be up for a page or two. As hard as it might be, don’t force it.
Expect interruptions, whether they be bathroom breaks, fights, comments, or questions.
Also, be prepared for the reality that your kids might not even like it. Or it might take some time and creativity for them to like it. And that’s all okay!
Be open and willing to adapt and keep trying. One day, you might be surprised to find they’re asking for “just one more chapter!”
Tip #3: Let Them Play
A lot of kids find it REALLY hard to sit still for any amount of time. In fact, most young kids are this way. It’s totally normal! My daughter is definitely in this category, and I’ve had to learn that reading doesn’t look like my kids sitting around me watching as I read.
The rule at our house for read aloud time is, “You can play, but you can’t talk!” Letting them do a quiet activity while they read keeps their hands busy and actually helps them be more engaged with the story and get more out of it!
Here are some ideas:
- Coloring books
- Magnet Building Tiles
- Water Wow
- Cars and a Camp Castle Playmat (use code COLORMYHAPPY for 10% off!)
- Kinetic Sand
- Water Beads
- Sticker books (my kids love these ones)
- Swinging (getting an indoor swing is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Ours isn’t available anymore, but there are some other great options HERE)
- K’nex (we love these ones)
Tip #4: Make it a Part of Your Daily Routine
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a super fun book with my kids, only to realize a few weeks later that we totally forgot about it and stopped reading 1/3 of the way through 🤦🏼♀️. The difference between those times and the times we finish? Routine. Whenever we finish a book, I’ve added reading aloud to a routine we have.
One of my favorite times to read aloud is during meals or snacks (right now I read to them during morning snack). The kids are sitting with their hands and mouths occupied, so it’s a great time to squeeze in a chapter or two. Plus, we eat everyday, so that makes it part of an automatic routine!
As soon as they’re done eating, they know they can start a quiet activity (see tip #3), so this also extends our reading time!
Before bed or right after school are some other easy times to squeeze in some reading time. You could read to one kid while you wait for another to get done with practice. You could read to a toddler while in the school pick-up line. You could read before or after naps, while you wait for dinner to cook, or as your signal to start quiet time. Find what works for you and your schedule.
And remember: it doesn’t have to happen 100% of the days to be a meaningful part of your lives. It sure doesn’t happen daily over here! But having it part of a routine ensures it happens more than it would otherwise.
Tip #5: Make it Fun
Find ways to make reading aloud special and fun!
- Read in a fun spot, like a fort, outside on a blanket, or cuddled up in Mom & Dad’s bed.
- Use fun or silly voices for different characters as you read. Really get into it!
- Give them a fun snack while you read—like foods with dip (veggies and ranch, fruit and yogurt dip, chips and salsa), popsicles, Dum Dums, or popcorn. There are some fun snack ideas on this post I wrote for Fun Cheap or Free, Out-of-the-Box After School Snacks for Kids.
- Have them draw what you’re reading as you go along. At the end of the book, put their drawings together to make their own book!
- Talk with your kids and ask them what THEY think would make it fun, then try to make it happen.
It doesn’t have to be anything extreme or that takes lots of extra effort. Small and simple things go far in making it a special and exciting experience for kids.
Tip #6: Extend the Reading
Don’t make it just about the reading. Find ways to bring the book to life in your home!
If you’re reading a book that takes place in Sweden, make Swedish meatballs for dinner. If you’re reading a book that takes place in the 1800s, spend some time learning about that time period. If there’s a movie version, watch it. Come up with a corresponding snack, activity, or outing. There are lots of ways to bring the book to life!
Similarly, bring the book into your daily conversations. At dinner, ask your kids discussion questions about the book, like a book club. Important note: Don’t make these reading comprehension questions, but rather open-ended opinion questions. Make it clear that there are no right answers and just listen to what they have to say. You might not agree, but this is about helping them learn to think about and draw conclusions from books, not about being right.
Not only does this help them learn how to think deeper about books, but it also helps you get to know them better. You’ll learn so much about who they are and what’s important to them. You might learn there are some things you need to teach them. And they might even teach YOU a thing or two. I’ve been blown away by some of my kids’ answers to questions!
- Which character do you think you’re most like? Why?
- Who do you think is the _______ (insert personality trait here–bravest, kindest, strongest, etc.)? Why?
- Would you want to live in ________ (insert place or time period here)? Why or why not?
- Do you think _____ (insert character) made the right choice when he/she ________ (insert action)? Why or why not?
- If you wrote the book, what would you have changed?
Reading Aloud to Our Kids
Reading aloud to our kids is a rewarding experience with so many benefits. It might seem daunting at first, but with practice, consistency, trial and error, and patience, it’s sure to become one of your favorite family activities!
What’s your biggest struggle with reading aloud to your kids? Let me know in the comments below!
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