Finding time to read to my kids first became difficult for me when I had my third child. When the first two were little, we literally read dozens of books a day (or, some days, one book dozens of times!). Our time was our own; we made our own routines. But then the oldest started school and the littlest was born. Time became tighter. We now had to follow a school schedule. But it really became difficult when the oldest started going to school full time and the baby, who used to sleep hours a day, now became a crawling and then walking toddler. She was much more interested in trying to turn pages then listening to a story; more interested in dumping over the basket of books then choosing one to look at. I still really wanted to read to my older girls. And I wanted to read to them books at their level – something that would challenge them, something new. So I had to get creative. How can I still manage to read chapter books to the older girls without the toddler begging for attention or grabbing the book away? Here are a couple ideas I’ve had, please feel free to add you own ideas!
1. It was important for me to realize that we didn’t have to read a whole chapter at one sitting. Two or three pages at a time will still get the story read over time, and it is better than nothing.
2. I started putting the toddler to bed just 10 minutes earlier and used that time to read to my older girls.
3. How about reading aloud at the breakfast table? Two or three pages over cereal in the morning is a great way to start the day!
4. Bring the book you are currently reading along with you when you have to take the kids to doctors appointments or wherever you may have to wait. This doesn’t always work as well with a toddler in tow, but for those of you with older kids it will make the waiting time more enjoyable.
5. If you have more time on one day of the week than the rest, you could consider reading a chapter a week. I could use this with my older girls on Friday nights. They could stay up a bit later to listen to a chapter since there is no school the next morning. You might just have to do a quick review of what was going on in the previous chapter before doing the reading for that week.
I find time to continue reading to my girls because it is important to me. I love sharing stories with them. I love being able to refer back with them to particular words or incidents or jokes in a story that we found funny or interesting together. The girls and I have “private jokes” that are from books we’ve read – no one else may get why they are funny, but we do and I love sharing that with them. So I encourage parents to continue reading to their kids even when the time doesn’t seem to be there or it is a sacrifice of time to do so. It is worth it!