10 Ways to Read More to Your Child

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A reading-centered life for my kids, that’s my goal. For so many reasons…

  • To give them the words that will fill their vocabulary and their writing.
  • To encourage them to become lifelong readers.
  • To enrich our time together.

I am a believer in reading to them at the highest level they enjoy.  And even when they can all read themselves, I’ll keep reading to them as long as they let me. Here are some ways I’ve been trying to carve out more time for reading in our busy lives.

  1. Have a book-themed play date, birthday party or holiday party. We’ve spent a week or a few days reading books by a particular author, and then had a playdate at the end of the week. Do the normal playdate or party stuff, maybe a craft or game to go along with the book, then while they snack, read to them. We’ve done Angelina BallerinaMadeline and  Fancy Nancy with my daughter.  Currently we’re planning a Harry Potter birthday party for my oldest son.
  2. Family reading time together each day for about 5 or 10 minutes. Gather all your kids together and have a book ready to go. We do this each morning. It’s Mom’s choice of book (since it’s almost always their choice, sometimes there are things I just want to read to them) or we delve into that basket full of library books that we never seem to get through before they’re overdue. Whoever is willing and able to read, reads. Even though the younger ones interrupt a lot, even though that can be quite frustrating for older siblings, we persist. That’s why we keep it short and sweet.
  3. Individual reading time with mom for each kid every afternoon, 15 to 20 minutes. Kid’s choice of reading material, by themselves with mom, while the other two kids go upstairs and mostly play quietly and separately, to minimize interruptions. My kids don’t nap anymore but they all know what “quiet time” means, to go to a part of the house, by themselves. Little ones often find surprises in their rooms for quiet time (a special toy they haven’t played with in a while, a new library book, a craft they can do themselves).
  4. Go to book-themed plays. Do you have a little local theatre in your community? How about a high school or university drama department?  The cost is so reasonable at these theaters. Sign up for their email lists, look for their flyers at local grocery stores or skim local newspapers or on-line community lists. We get super excited about the play ahead of time, reading the book and doing a few activities. Then my kids greet the characters in the play like they are old friends. It’s so exciting. We’ve seen some wonderful plays like The Snowy DayCharlotte’s WebLily’s Purple Plastic Purse, Frog and Toad, and many more.
  5. Individual reading at bedtime, no matter what. Most of us already do this, but it can be easy to skip when kids and parents are overtired. I caught myself saying to one of my kids, in a moment of frustration, “Just go to bed. No books tonight.” Then, I thought better of it. Do I want reading at bedtime to be a privilege my child has to earn? No. It’s our special time together. It’s important. I wouldn’t tell them to go to bed without brushing their teeth or using the bathroom.
  6. Tuesday Tea Time. You can thank Julie at Brave Writer for this one.  Each Tuesday, we set a fancy table, with drinks in tea cups, snacks, and a stack of poetry books. Each child picks a poem. If they are willing and able to read it themselves, they can. If not, mom reads. They adore this, even the boys.
  7. Audio Books.  The library is full of them, via cd’s or downloads. Some favorites I’ve added to our collection recently are by Jim Weiss, a master storyteller: American Tall Tales, King Arthur and His Knights, The Three Musketeers / Robin Hood. There are so many more.  I’ve met several adults and older teens who listened to Jim Weiss’ stories growing up and they speak of this experience with such fond memories. We play these during  quiet time when I’m reading to a sibling, in the car, and at bedtime. I frequently have to tell my oldest child to turn off his stories and go to sleep!
  8. Read at mealtime and snack times. Instant captive audience!
  9. Give books as gifts, always. A lot.  Books in their Easter baskets, for their birthdays, at Christmas, for Valentine’s Day. Instead of a load of candy, they get some candy, some books.
  10. Find bargain book opportunities and get your kids excited about them. My kids salivate over a box of books at a garage sale, the shelves at thrift stores and our annual library’s book sale. What I love, too, is that I can always say YES, in these situations, when they ask to buy a pile of books. “Sure, they’re only 25 cents, of course you can have them!”

Here’s my page that shows all the fun places I link up my posts. 


  1. I love this! Would you be willing to share your top poetry books for your tea time?

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    • Hi Tara,
      Yes, I’ve had several requests so I’ll be blogging about it soon. Thanks!

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  2. Lot’s of great ideas. I may add one or two to my “Take Home Tips” for parents on storytime handouts, citing you of course. I have a boy, so we don’t do tea time, but I’m having a Fancy Nancy Tea Party at my library for mothers and daughters. Also, a few months ago, my drama teacher from high school stopped by and invited us to her version of “Miss Nelson is Missing.” It was so fun and Bobo was engaged the whole time!

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  3. Thanks for all the great reminders! We love the “Sheep” books here, too!

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  4. I love that you plan to keep reading to your children for as long as they let you, even after they have learnt to read for themselves. Thanks for linking up this post to the Weekly Kid’s Co-Op. I’ve shared it on the Weekly Kid’s Co-op Pinterest board. http://pinterest.com/zina/the-weekly-kid-s-co-op/

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    • Thank you!

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  5. These are wonderful ideas! I love the ideas about a book-themed birthday party and Tuesday Tea Time! Pinning these so I have the list to go back to.

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  6. Tuesday Tea Time! I love that. What a great list, there is nothing I LOVE more than story time with my kids 🙂 (stopping by via kids co-op)

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  7. Just wanted to add that I featured this on my Weekly Kid’s Co-op post. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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  8. What a great list! I love that you guys have Tuesday Tea Time =-) What a fun tradition! I shared this with my Facebook readers here –
    https://www.facebook.com/LivingLifeIntentionally – Thanks for linking up to TGIF! I look forward to seeing what you link up this week,
    Beth =-)

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    • Thank you, Beth. 🙂

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  9. Every time we enter Goodwill the kids start asking when they can go look at the books. I think it helps that we’ve never bought toys at Goodwill, but we do frequently buy a small stack of books.

    I also love reading chapter books when they are playing on the floor with Legos or Lincoln Logs. Since there are no pictures the playing keeps their hands occupied and they actually follow along with the story better than if they were just sitting still.

    We also love audio books. We enjoyed listening to The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables for free online. We also just finished listening to The Little House on the Prairie from our local library. My oldest daughter (5) loved them all and even her younger brother (3) and sister (2) listened in while they played.

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    • Thanks, Malia. If it wasn’t for our thrify ways, we wouldn’t have very many books.

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  10. Wonderful ideas, Julie. My daughter gets extra reading time at bedtime on Fridays and Saturdays as a weekend treat and she looks forward to those all week. She gets a kick out of ‘staying up late’ and I love the special one-on-one time we get doing what we both love.

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  11. Julie! I love this post! Will you link it up to The Children’s Bookshelf this week (it doesn’t matter that it’s from last April)? I totally want to feature it in my round-up on Sunday.

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    • Just linked. Thanks, Erica!

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  12. Have you seen the site “Kiddie Records Weekly”? This is a fantastic resource! I’ve downloaded almost every single recording that they have available. Sometime the quality is a little iffy but pretty much if we are listening to something in the car then it’s probably from Kiddie Records Weekly.

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  13. Hi Julie, I just wanted to let you know since you haven’t been tagged in any of the tweets, but your 10 ways to read to a child has been making quite a bit of traction on twitter in the kid lit community.

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    • Thanks for letting me know, Erica.

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