One of my favorite memories of my childhood is my mom reading to us before bed.
My sisters and I would braid each other’s hair, paint our nails, or do other quiet activities while my mom read aloud to us.
I knew it was something I wanted to do with my own children and it’s been such a delightful part of our family life.
For the record, it took me quite a few years of parenting to add bedtime reading to our routine – with small children, I was just so tired at the end of the day and I read to them plenty during the day, so it worked much better for us to not
But once they were a bit older, I started bedtime reading (it was around the time my youngest was around 18 months and we’d read after she was in bed. She started joining us around age 3) and it’s been such a delightful way to end the day.
Here are some details about how bedtime reading works at our house.
How Bedtime Reading Looks at Our House
- I don’t have a set number of pages, chapters, or time that I read aloud. Sometimes I read for 10 minutes. Sometimes I read for 45 minutes. It depends on what time we started reading, how good the book is, and how tired I am.
- I read to all the girls together. I don’t have the time or energy to read different books to my girls every night. I do a different read-aloud with Tally as part of our preschool together while the big girls are at school, but as far as bedtime reading goes, it’s for everyone.
- I mostly choose books based on the older girls’ levels. Most of the books I read aloud to the girls are aimed more at my two oldest girls’ levels. The other girls usually can follow along pretty well.
- Every few books, I choose a shorter option that’s more at my little girls’ level. Because the majority of the books I read aloud at bedtime are not aimed at the little girls, it’s nice to do one more aimed at their level every 3-4 books. Because they’re short, they usually only take 3-4 days to get through.
- I usually choose book options and then the girls decide from among those. I have SO many books – both beloved childhood favorites and tempting new releases – that I want to read that I’m not interested in choosing lame books for reading aloud. I give the girls 3-4 options for our next read and then they decide amongst themselves which one they want. And sometimes I just say “this is our next book.”
- Bart generally does not participate. Usually it’s just the five of us reading, although this spring Bart started playing pool with the girls while I read aloud and so he sat in on several of the books we read. It’s possible that when we get our pool table set back up in the new house, he’ll start joining us again.
- I read aloud at bedtime usually Sunday through Thursday nights. On weekends, we have movie night and Bart and I usually go out, so we don’t read aloud those evenings. And if there are other nights where we’re gone for some reason or it gets too late, we just skip it. My goal is consistency, not perfection.
- If a book isn’t great, we’ll quit. I can always tell if, after a few chapters, none of us are into it. The girls don’t beg for another chapter, they interrupt endlessly and I am more than happy to skip a night of reading. If that’s the case, we bail and pick a new book. Life’s too short to waste on lousy books.
Any other questions about our bedtime reading? I’m happy to help!