Skip to Content

How to Find More Time to Read to Your Kids

Most of us have that you should read to your children for at least 20 minutes a day. Reading to them has all kinds of benefits, including building literacy and listening skills and strengthening the parent-child bond. But sometimes, 20 minutes may seem unmanageable.

Maybe you’re dealing with a wiggly toddler who can’t sit still for more than five minutes, or you’ve just had the worst day ever, and all you want to do is sink into bed and forget it. No matter how tired, busy or frustrated you may be, you can find more time to read to your kids to hit that 20-minute mark. Here are some tips to help you do it.

Related: Get our free printable Reading Challenge for Kids — bookmarks included!

1. Read for 5 minutes at a time.

Preschoolers and toddlers often cannot focus for a 20-minute stretch, and trying to read several picture books at once to hit the 20-minute mark will just result in frustration for you both. Instead, try reading several books throughout the day. In our experience, most picture books take between 5-10 minutes to read and talk about. Aim for those smaller chunks of time to make read-aloud time more manageable.

2. Squeeze in a story at dinner time.

What better time to share a story with the entire family than at the dinner table? Take 5-10 minutes to read a story or a chapter while the food is cooling. You could also let your husband (or wife or one of the older children) read while the table is being set.

3. Bring books to the bath.

I don’t know about you, but I love reading during a bath! And as I mentioned in my post about how to make bath time fun for toddlers, our three-year-old loves stories during bath time, too. It’s the perfect time because he enjoys staying in the tub a while, so I have no problems keeping him seated for this storytime.

4. Keep books in the car.

Instead of letting your kiddos watch DVDs or play with the iPad while you’re in the car, enjoy a story together instead. Older children can read their own books, and someone can read to the younger kids.

5. Listen to audio books.

Alternatively, you can all listen to an audio book together. Yes, even audio books are beneficial because children can still hone their listening and linguistic skills. Listen to a story while you’re completing your chores or when you’re all in the car together.

See how easy it is to fit in read-aloud time with your kids? By breaking the time into smaller segments and squeezing in a little more storytime during your everyday activities, you’re well on your way to hitting that 20-minute mark every single day.

Do you have a tip for squeezing in more storytime? Please share it in the comments!

And check out these Easter books for preschoolers if you have a little bookworm in your home.


Monday 27th of July 2015

I love these ideas! We make reading a part of bedtime every night. We have book stashed all over the house and grab one at random to read throughout the day.

Brandi Clevinger

Friday 20th of March 2015

We started a family reading time and my kids always take a book wiht them when we leave the house in case there's any waiting time.

Thanks for sharing your tips at Inspire Me Mondays!

Ambika S

Sunday 15th of March 2015

Love the ideas. I am already doing the dinner time reading at times. Will try others too.

Donella Crigger

Monday 16th of March 2015

Reading while everyone's in the car is lots of fun. We read "Ladybug Girl and Bingo" while on our way to dinner yesterday!

Adoring Family

Friday 13th of March 2015

I never thought of bringing books to the bath! What a great idea for a captive audience. And books in the car are a must! Blessings to you sweet lady :) Sharon