How to Make Reading Aloud the Best Part of Your Day

Feb 16, 2018 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


Enjoy this guest post by Sarah Mackenzie, author and creator of the popular blog, Read-Aloud Revival. When you’re done, check out Sarah’s newest book, The Read-Aloud Family, available from IEW later this spring.

By now you may be convinced that reading aloud is one of the best things you can do for your kids. I hope you are! But what do you do if reading aloud is not quite what you’d envisioned? Maybe your kids are a bit less enthusiastic than you thought they’d be, and you’re starting to wonder if it really makes that big of a difference.

Does this sound familiar? You finally gather the kids and work up the gumption to start reading aloud, and everything begins to fall apart. The toddler pitches a fit, or maybe the teenager does. The kids are wiggling and noisy, they’re interrupting you, nobody can keep their toes on their own sofa cushion, and you can’t hear yourself read over the din. To make matters worse, as much as you try, you can’t even keep your eyes open through an entire chapter.

Let me tell you—I have been there!

I believe in the power of reading aloud. I know that it helps develop my kids’ sense of empathy and compassion for others, that it prepares them for academic success better than just about anything else, and that it inspires them toward heroic virtue.

Even so, some days it just feels really, really hard.

So how do we enjoy this reading aloud business? How do we make that time of day our favorite part of homeschooling?

Here are five ways to make reading aloud more delightful and successful in your home.


1. Choose a Book YOU Love (even if it’s not a classic).

The first thing you want to do is just make sure you’re reading something you enjoy. We can all agree that reading classics is a lovely thing to do, but if read-aloud times have been a bit strained in your home lately, maybe go a little easier on yourself. When you’re enjoying a read-aloud, your enthusiasm and delight is passed along to your kids. Of course, this means that when you aren’t enjoying a book, your lack of enthusiasm and delight is also passed along to your kids. Delight in the story will carry you a long way, so make sure whatever you’re reading is enjoyable and lights you up. If it’s not? Ditch it and try something else. You can even pick one of your own childhood favorites. You might be surprised at how fun that can be.


2. Keep Your Kids’ Hands Busy.

If you’re frustrated that your kids won’t sit still during read-aloud time, I’ve got great news for you: They don’t need to. Your children may actually listen better when they’re doing something with their hands. Dr. Michael Gurian came to the Read-Aloud Revival podcast to tell us exactly this.

Need ideas for what your kids can do while you read? Head here for a whole list, no matter your kids’ ages. You just may find that all of your kids, from toddlers to teens, will sit and listen for much longer stretches if they can do something with their hands while you read.


3. Read for Just 10 Minutes

If you’re waiting until you have a 30-minute chunk of time to read aloud to your kids, you’re probably not doing it very often.

If you were to read aloud for just ten minutes every day, you would read sixty hours over the course of a year.

But it’s hard to do something every day, right? Let’s be more realistic—if you read aloud just ten minutes every other day, you’ll read over thirty hours over the course of the next year. Thirty hours is a tremendous amount of reading! You could read the entire Chronicles of Narnia in that amount of time, or over two hundred picture books.

You don’t want read-aloud time to go too long anyway, so that the next day when you pull out the book, it’s still an activity everyone wants to participate in.

No more putting this off. Everyone can find ten minutes, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be the best investment of time you can make with this day.


4. Read aloud earlier in the day.

Look, we’re homeschooling parents— we’re tired! If you save reading aloud until the end of the day, there’s a good chance that you’ll be too tired, or something else will come up. If you get to your read-aloud time before you hit other subjects in your school day, you’ll know that even if the rest of the day falls apart (and it just might!), you’ve gotten to the most important thing. You’ve helped your children get correct and sophisticated language patterns in through their ears. You’ve nurtured their moral imaginations. You’ve prioritized spending a little time being fully present with them.

And that, my friends, is time well spent— even if it’s only ten minutes.


5. Use audio books.

Look, audiobooks aren’t cheating. The magic of a read-aloud experience is achieved when we share stories together. It’s that shared experience itself that make the biggest impact, regardless of whose voice is doing the actual reading.

A bonus, of course, is that you’ll fit in a whole lot more reading if you start using audiobooks in your home. Turn them on while everyone eats breakfast, in the car on your way to co-op, or during a quiet time activity in the middle of the day. And don’t tell yourself you’re cheating. Audiobooks count.

Reading aloud with our kids is a power punch. It’s simple, it’s easy, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it makes an incredible difference in the lives of our kids. If we can take a few small steps to make it more pleasant, we’ll treasure the time we spend sharing books with our kids more than just about anything else.

And who knows? We might just find that these are the memories our kids treasure most, as well.

We hope you enjoyed gleaning some wisdom from Sarah about how to consistently enjoy read-alouds within your family. Sarah was a recent guest on our podcast. Check out the episode for even more insight on the benefits and joys of reading aloud.


Sarah Mackenzie is the author of both The Read-Aloud Family: Make Meaningful Connections with Your Kids and Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace.

On the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, she helps families all over the world make meaningful and lasting connections with their kids through books. She lives with her husband, Andrew, and their six kids in the Northwest. Sarah loves to homeschool and make sure her kids are well-stocked with the best books she can find.

Connect with Sarah at

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