Reading with Kids, Defined

As I’ve mentioned, for the Read with Kids Challenge, I’ve been tracking the time I read with my 19 months old son.

Other than picture books any time of the day, I also like to read him chapter books (usually children’s). Even though he’s too young to care or follow a plot, I want to read those books, so I might as well get them read while I’m reading to a child. So each morning, I usually read him a chapter from something (10-20 minutes) while he plays with his toys or eats his breakfast.

From April 15 (when I started keeping track) until the end of April, we read 390 minutes, or an average of 26 minutes a day. I had made a 75-day goal of 2500 minutes, which is an average of 33 minutes a day. Considering reading in the morning and bedtime stories, that sounded do-able, but then I forgot to consider the days when I forget or don’t do much reading with him at all (like weekends!).

I realize now that that goal will be nearly impossible. In the past two weeks, I’ve been really pushing myself to read whenever I could and every day. But I still came up short of what I expected would be “easy.” Maybe averaging 20 minutes a day is plenty practical. My new goal is 1600 minutes by the end of June, including, of course, the 390 we did in the later half of April.

I also wonder which times I should count as reading; maybe I am “cheating.” My son doesn’t actually read, so all my time is actually “reading to a kid.”  Which times would you count as “reading with kids” out of these?

  • I read a chapter book to him while he plays with his toys or eats his breakfast or takes his bath.
  • I read a chapter book to him while he falls asleep in my arms (he was not feeling well).
  • I read him a picture book bedtime story.
  • I read him two pages of a bedtime story, and then he points at the pictures and babbles as he turns the other pages.
  • When I say it’s time for a bedtime story, he runs to the closet and grabs a picture book. Then he sits on the floor, turns the pages, and babbles, pushing me away if I come near. After about 30 seconds, he gets up and exchanges it for a different book. Repeat five to ten times.

I count them all, because each in its own way helps him to love reading. That is, I think, the purpose of this challenge. I’m comforted in the fact that my son loves books. But what do you think? Does reading with kids need to be interactive?

I know my son has begun to love books and reading. It’s a success so far.

An example of success: I read my son Robinson Crusoe aloud over the course of two months. I figured he was too young to notice what I was reading anyway, so why not. Now, whenever he sees that particular book on my bookshelf, he brings it to me, babbling something incomprehensible. I’m hoping he is actually saying something about his good memories of me reading to him (like maybe that day I held him when he was not feeling well, and he fell asleep as I read to him).

Another example: Yesterday morning, after I got him up and dressed, I was going to go into the other room. But my son found the copy of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle we’re reading and handed it to me, very excited.

“Do you want me to read some of it to you?” I asked.

He nodded emphatically and then headed back to his toys, turning to look back at me to see that I was starting to read. Aww, how could I not?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. It is really great that you are fostering a love of reading with your child. I would count all of the above, but not worry too much about your target. At that age the most important thing is to get them to love books, so you don’t want to push books onto them just to reach your target number of minutes.

    It is lovely that your son flicks through books by himself – babbling is his only real way of talking, so that just shows he loves it. Keep up the good work!!

  2. Poems are really great with kids too, even if they have no idea what the poem means, they like to listen, especially with a good strong meter. I read one of my boys ‘Aurora Leigh’ to Laurence when he was a small baby, and he would snuggle up and quiet down when he was upset or tired, and listen, and go to sleep. My mother-in-law said I sounded like a priest, but the bounce of the iambs, I think children like that.

  3. Cool – I remember last fall when you said your son didn’t like to listen to books for long. I’m glad he’s taken to books now that he’s older. 🙂

  4. That is so great what you’re doing. I think all the times you read to your son count. It doesn’t have to be interactive.

  5. I would definitely count all of that as reading time. As he grows older, you’ll find even more opportunities – signs in stores, menus, etc.

  6. Jackie, I realized I was pushing our last book on my son, simply because I wanted to finish it and read a different book! That’s why I ended up reading even after I found he was asleep. oops. Oh well. Yes, it’s so cute when he reads to himself!

    Jason, ah yes, I’m intended to get into reading poetry to my son too! I love the Poetry for Young People series — we have two or three of them — and it just makes great poetry into a picture book. I don’t think it’s dumbed down or anything, it’s just accessible.

    Amanda, oh yes, I’m glad. I obviously would like him to be a reader. I think before I was expecting him to sit still. He doesn’t every night, but we’re still getting good reading time together.

    Vassilly and Claire, thanks!

    Kathy, good point about the signs! I’ll look forward to that too.

  7. I also would think that all of those count as reading to (or with) your child. And I agree with Jason about poetry, kids really respond to the rhyming. My own kids and I also love to listen to audiobooks together, which I think counts as “reading together”. But I honestly think that the best thing you can do if you want to foster a love of reading in your children is to let them see how much you love it. Seeing YOU read the books you love is the best way to make an impression. And it sounds like you could hardly help that, Rebecca, with all the reading you do!

    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Jenni, yes, he’s learning I love it! He loves to steal the book out of my hands. I don’t know if that’s jealousy or his own love for the book though!

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