When you have only one child, reading aloud is relatively straight-forward.
You grab a stack of books that you think your child will enjoy that are somewhere in the right age range, snuggle in on the couch and all your parenting dreams are coming true, right there in your living room.
But then you add another child or two or three to the mix, and suddenly things get a little tricky (or, let’s be honest, a lot tricky).
Do you pick books for the reading level of your oldest child? The baby? A middle child?
I’ve had my share of crazy when trying to read to multiple children, but I’ve picked up some good tricks too that have helped make it a little easier for everyone.
If you’re juggling multiple children during reading time, try these tips out and see if they help!
- Keep picture books as part of the mix. Just because your older children can read longer books or can read independently doesn’t mean they can’t still benefit from picture books. Good picture books usually have great vocabulary and engaging topics that you can all discuss together.
- Alternate who chooses the books. When I read to more than one of my girls, I let each of them choose one book. Then they each choose a second book and we read that round. They’re happy to sit through each other’s books because they know their book is coming. Plus, it means we read books they might not have selected themselves.
- Change up the location. If the couch isn’t working for you, try lying on the floor or on a blanket in the backyard or snuggled in your bed. Sometimes changing it up helps everyone readjust their expectations.
- Let them do something with their hands while you read aloud. This is especially great for younger children who may not be able to follow a longer book perfectly. Let them play with stickers or Legos or color while you read aloud. You’ll probably be surprised by how much they pick up! (If you need suggestions for activities, check out this post for more than 20 ideas for children of various ages).
- Let the older child read to the younger ones. If your older child can read, let them practice reading to younger siblings. Those little siblings won’t keep correcting them if they say a wrong word or stumble over a pronunciation and the older ones usually love feeling grown up (plus, it gives you a chance to make dinner or shower!).
- Don’t force it. You want reading to be something everyone enjoys, not something they resist. If the younger one wants to wander off or an older child is bored, don’t force them to stay and participate. Try again another day with a different book.
If you have tips that have worked for you, I’d love to hear them!
If you’re looking for other ideas for reading with children, check out these posts:
- Tricks for when your child only wants to read one kind of book
- 30 chapter books to read aloud to preschoolers
- 6 tips for transitioning from board books to picture books