3 Steps to a Successful Reading Time with Your Kids


I had always imagined raising children with a love for books and reading aloud to them for years to come. But by the time my third child was born, I was reading less and less. Aside from reading them their school assignments, read-aloud time became, at best, a sporadic activity. Needless to say, I was pretty discouraged at my own failure.

I’m so glad God lifted me up from my discouragement because now, our reading times throughout the day are some of the simple joys that we look forward to as a family.

If you want to get started with reading aloud to your children, here are some things to consider.

Pick the right books

With young children, the task isn’t too difficult. The story needs to be simple but engaging, not too many words, and good illustrations.

As my kids got older, I wanted to be able to read chapter books with fewer illustrations. At first, I wondered if this was possible with preschoolers in the mix. Well, it is possible, even with your squirmiest child. Pick a book with short chapters. The one we are currently reading, Little Pilgrim’s Progress, has chapters that are no more than 4 pages long [affiliate link]. Let them do a quiet activity while you read, like color, play-doh, or snacks. With their hands busy, they won’t be as restless and will actually listen.


Pick the right times

There are certain times in the day that we do read-alouds. We’ve done it regularly enough that the kids now expect it. I believe that with that expectation, they become more attentive. And, if you are reading a book that ends each chapter with a cliff-hanger, they are more likely to look forward to the next reading time. The best times for us to do read-alouds is during mealtimes and before bedtimes.

During a meal is a good time to read a chapter book because I have a captive audience who is not going anywhere. And, it really doesn’t take that long to read. I usually finish the chapter before they finish their meal. After putting the book down, I start eating, and we spend the rest of the time discussing what we just read.

Pick their brains

Don’t be afraid to pause now and then during your reading to insert some of your questions. Simple observation questions, instead of “why” questions, are great for helping young children develop narration skills.

When we finish, I always ask them, “What is one thing that you remember from the story?” This simple question helps them with their ability to recall the story and retell it in their own words. I’m always pleasantly surprised at their answers, from the 9-year-old to 3-year-old.

Resources for selecting books

It can be an overwhelming task to select books for your children when there is so much to choose from. I love getting book recommendations from friends.

There are also guide books that can help you in picking out age-appropriate books for your kids. These are the ones that I have used.

Ready, Set, Read!
[affiliate link]

The Read-Aloud Handbook
[affiliate link]

Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers
[affiliate link]

The New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children
[affiliate link]

What are your tips for fun read-aloud times with the kids?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here for more information on my disclosure.

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25 thoughts on “3 Steps to a Successful Reading Time with Your Kids

    1. When they’re exposed to it early, I think that helps. Even when I was being inconsistent about reading times before, they did not waver in their love for books.

  1. Your tips are great. Read-aloud time is something that I still try to keep going at our house – with the youngest at 6 – even though then don’t really “need” for me to read to them so much anymore in order to enjoy a good book.

    Our greatest challenge is finding the time. We usually plan to read right after lunch, but sometimes we’re behind in our morning work that reading time is what gets pushed aside. Thanks for your encouraging post. It makes me want to make certain that reading time always makes it into our day.

    Thanks for a great set of resources! I haven’t heard of any of them, but have used Honey for a Child’s Heart.

    1. I’m also hoping to continue read-alouds even when they’re older. It provides such a great bonding time!

  2. Love this! I’ve always enjoyed reading to my daughter, and I’m looking forward to reading to my son. So far he only wants to eat the books, but I have high hopes because he is more willing to sit still in my lap for a few minutes.

    1. Cute! Of course, he wants to eat them … they’re yummy! But soon, he’ll discover how much more satisfying it is to actually read them! 🙂

  3. This is great advice for reading aloud. Thank you also for the list of resources.

    I’m hoping to sustain reading time with my youngest as she grows. Both me reading to her and eventually her reading to me. Right now we just do short books, at only 8 months her attention span is touch and go. With my older two, we do quite a few audio books.

    1. Audio books have been a great help for my kids’ listening skills and even reading on their own. I was gonna mention audio books in the post, but thought it deserved its own post in the future. Hopefully, I’ll get to writing it.

    1. I was hesitant at first, thinking they wouldn’t pay attention, but I was wrong. I especially love it when I’m reading a suspenseful part, and I see them with their mouths open, looking a bit hypnotized by the story.

  4. I’ll definitely have to check out Little Pilgrim’s Progress. I’ve been wondering when to start chapter books with my 3 year old. She’s ready for something more. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Yeah, give it a try. She might be ready. If not, you can always put the book on the shelf and try again when she’s older. My 3 year old has the benefit of older siblings talking about the story.

  5. I have “The Incredible Journey” which is a child’s version of “Pilgrim’s Progress”. Have you read that before? I’m wondering if they’re the same? These are excellent points and I definitely had to share.

    1. Yeah, my daughter went through that stage. She’s 7 now, and has announced that she is too old for princesses.

  6. These are great suggestions. We read to Z often throughout the day, but always before bedtime. We also have books downloaded on her iPad so she can read by herself whenever she is using that. 🙂

  7. I love reading and want to pass it along to my kids, too! When I was pregnant with my first, I was given a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart, which is a great resource for choosing age-appropriate, quality books. We don’t read aloud as much as I’d like (I’d prefer to do it more during the day rather than just at bedtime), but it’s always something I can add in. 🙂 (Visiting from Shine Blog Hop.)

    1. I have to get myself a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart. I’ve had quite a few people recommend that book. Hope you get a chance to do more read-alouds. Thanks for visiting from the blog hop!

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