In a dream world, your children would all sit quietly as you read aloud to them great works of literature or introduce them to the best children’s illustrators working today.
In reality, your child might be interrupting you every 5 words which can be HUGELY frustrating as a parent trying to keep the flow of the story going.
On the other hand, you don’t want to run such a tight reading ship that your children decide they’d rather get off the reading boat altogether.
It’s a tricky balance of keeping curiosity and interest alive and well while also not ruining the reading experience for other students or siblings or making it hard to get engaged with the story because it’s stopping every 10 seconds.
I asked about this on Instagram last summer and answers were all over the place.
Some parents are absolutely committed to letting their children ask questions, make comments, tell stories, and share observations as much as they want and letting go of an adult need to get through the book.
And if that’s you, that’s GREAT!
If, on the other hand, you hate the interruptions, want to teach your child how to enjoy a story without derailing the reading on every page and want to gently tone the interrupting to a manageable level, I hope these five tips will help make reading time more fun for both of you.
5 Tips for Kids Interrupting While You Read
- Set expectations beforehand. Bart and I joke all the time that this is the key to success in life. Just knowing what to expect makes a huge difference for kids AND adults. I like to say “I’m going to read you this book and I can’t wait to enjoy it together! At the end (or every two pages or whatever works for you and your child), you can tell me your favorite things and ask questions and we can talk about it for as long as you’d like!”
- If they interrupt, give them a quick reminder and go back to reading. I don’t like the flow to get interrupted, so I’ll just quickly say “Wait until the end of the page” and jump right back to the text. Then make sure you really do give them a chance to ask or talk when you get to the point you’ve determined you’ll stop.
- Choose a signal. If they have a question or comment or are just BURSTING to say something, choose a signal together that they can use to let you know they have something to say without interrupting. Maybe it’s a hand on your arm. Maybe it’s a tap on the page. Maybe it’s a post-it note they can put on the page. Whatever works for you so they can indicate they want to talk without jumping right in.
- Give them a chance to look through the book before you read it together. As an adult, it’s easy to just go with the flow of the text, but if there isn’t a lot of text per page, your child might not have time to look at all the details on the page and they’ll feel rushed. Give them a chance to look through the book at their own pace before you sit down to read it together. I like to give my children new library books to look at in bed before they go to sleep and then they’re excited to read it together the next day when they’ve had a chance to enjoy it on their own first.
- Give them an overview of the story. Often, interruptions are because your child loses track of the storyline or characters and can’t figure out what’s happening. This is super annoying as a listener because it takes all the fun out of listening when you have no idea what’s going on. A simple solution is to give them a quick overview of the storyline and characters before you begin so your child has some orientation to the book before jumping into something new.
Any other tips for dealing with interrupting during read-aloud time? I’d love to hear!
If you liked this post about interrupting kids, you might like these posts too:
- How to read to a wiggly baby or toddler
- Tips for a great read-aloud experience
- How to introduce audiobooks to your child
Photos by Heather Mildenstein