A few weeks ago, I posted something in an Instagram story about the books I had read aloud to our girls over dinner, and I was flooded with questions about if we read aloud to our girls every dinnertime. And the answer? No, not every dinnertime, as we try to make that a time to focus on family conversation, but I will read aloud at dinner if my husband is working late.
However, I DO read aloud almost every single breakfast, and most lunches that the girls eat at home. We started this when our oldest was about 1.5 years old, and we’ve been going strong in mealtime read alouds for the 5.5 years since. Read on to see what makes this such a successful time for our family to read aloud!
When we first started to read aloud to our older daughter during meals, we actually tried it because she had trouble sitting still to eat, not because she had trouble sitting still to listen. We decided to place a basket of board books next to her spot at the table, and when we wanted her to eat a good breakfast or lunch, we’d plow through the basket of books while she sat and ate… And before she knew it, she’d usually have eaten a decently good meal!
Fast forward to two children and two hectic bedtimes, and the reality in our house is that reading at bedtime just doesn’t always happen. By the time we get to bedtime, one (or all…) of us is usually just done with the day and really not in a mood to listen (or to read aloud…). However, we’re all always fresh and ready to go at breakfast, and we’re all usually hungry enough to sit for 10-15 minutes at lunch. So, we read aloud then! Between the two meals, we might get 10-30 minutes of read-aloud time in, plus whatever else happens during the day and at bedtime.
So, it’s a win both ways! Our girls sit down to eat balanced, healthy meals, and they sit still long enough for some really long, consistent read-aloud time. Whenever I’m asked how to fit read-aloud time in, how to read to squirmy toddlers, or how to read at night when children (and maybe adults…) are tired and cranky, I always suggest building read-aloud time into parts of the day when the child is relatively contained and still, such as mealtime or bathtime. For us, breakfasts and lunches have become magical read-aloud times and such a part of our routine that the girls will grab books to bring to the breakfast table without thinking about it.
When do you read to your kids? Have I convinced you to try reading during a meal yet?