How Do I Keep Them Busy During Read Alouds? Day 7



Wow.  Day 7 in the Ten Days of Reading Aloud is here.   I've had such fun writing this series.  I believe in the power of reading aloud to your children!   I just want to share this excitement with everyone I meet.

If you've missed a post, visit the Read Alouds page to see all of the posts. Everything from choosing read alouds, keeping track of them, why they are important, and lots of freebies and giveaways have been included.    

Many readers have asked HOW to keep your younger (and sometimes even older) children busy while you are reading aloud to them.  Yes, reading aloud is wonderful, but what if your children have not developed the habit of attention to sit and LISTEN to a read aloud yet?  

We've read aloud to our children since BIRTH.   They were able to sit and listen to chapter books around age four and five.   Listening to books has been an EXPECTATION in our home; it is an expectation that is consistent and firm.  It has built my children's habit of attention and now we are reaping the rewards of our hard work.

If I can offer one piece of advice it is this:  DO NOT GIVE UP.   Read Aloud often and in short increments to start.  You will eventually build up to longer stretches of time.   But, whatever you do - DON'T GIVE UP.  IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT!  

Several months ago I wrote a post about Keeping Little Hands Busy While Reading Aloud.   In it I detailed FIVE things we do in our home to keep everyone busy while I am reading:


  • Make the environment cozy
  • Coordinate read aloud time with snack and meals
  • Give those little hands something to do
  • Keep notebooks for your children to work in
  • Be ANIMATED while you read aloud


Go ahead and read that post, and then I've added a few additional thoughts here today - just more observations about reading aloud in our home and what works and what doesn't!

Obtain GOOD Coloring/Painting Supplies

My kids were given one of the large art supply kits which contains crayons, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and also paints.   We set the kit up on our table and I encourage the children to paint, draw, or color while I read aloud.  Sometimes I will print something for them, but other times I just make blank paper available.   It's amazing the effect those nicely colored paints and pencils have on them!  

A simple coloring sheet of Queen Elizabeth (thank you Story of the World) and watercolor pencils keeps my daughter busy during a biography of Queen Elizabeth!


Use Audio Books and Listen On The Go or at Bedtime/Quiet Time

We listen to audio books A LOT, and I think they qualify as read-alouds, don't you? I set up the player inbetween my children's rooms and they listen during afternoon quiet time  and at bedtime.    We also have several chunks of time in the car each week and the kids just know this is audio book time.  

If you can't get in a lot of personal read aloud time, I think audio books are the next best thing!  Your kids don't need a thing to keep them busy in the car except a great story!  

Choose FUNNY & QUIRKY as well as serious read alouds

I'm all for a serious history read aloud.   I also love a good biography of a Christian hero.  But sometimes we just want to laugh and be silly.    A funny story always keeps my children's attention!

I make sure to have lots of funny read alouds on hand.   Some of our favorites have been:

Oh, I'm sure there are more funny read alouds; I've just given you a few to get started!

Offer a Reward 

Yes, I am advocating bribing your children to sit during a read aloud.   You know what motivates your children, so choose accordingly.  

I don't have to offer a reward anymore - the act of reading aloud is actually the reward for my kids now!  But, if you are just starting to build this habit, your children might need some motivation.  

How about a handful of M&M's per chapter?   Maybe they can get a later bedtime if they can listen intently?   


Let Your Children Read Aloud

Now that my kids are better at reading aloud, I let them read aloud to each other.   Sometimes I need to fold that load of laundry, dust the living room, or just want to listen myself!    My kids will take turns reading a chapter each, and sometimes they won't want to stop.    

This gives your children a chance to model good reading, and it makes them feel very important.   


I hope this gives you some idea of what to do with those kids while you're reading aloud.   Please feel free to leave me a comment and ask any questions you might have - I will do my best to answer them.

Tomorrow I'm going to share why read-alouds can be emotionally so important for your children.   You will hear how a specific read aloud helped us through a hard time in my children's lives.  


This post is a part of the iHomeschool Network's Homeschool Hopscotch... you can access many great blog series by clicking on the image below!