5 Tips for Reading Aloud to More Than One Child

by Janssen Bradshaw

Photo credit: Henrik Sorensen; Collection: Iconica

When you have one child, reading aloud is pretty easy.

You pick the books you think your child will like and that are at the appropriate reading level, and you’re off.

But when you add another child or two to the mix, things get a little tricky.

Do you pick books for the reading level of your oldest child? Your youngest? Somewhere in the middle?

Here are some ways to make sure everyone can enjoy reading together.

1. Always keep picture books as part of the mix. Just because your older children can read longer books doesn’t mean they can’t still benefit from picture books. Picture books often have great vocabulary and interesting topics for everyone to discuss.

2. Alternate who chooses the books.
When I read to both of my girls, I let them each pick one book and we read them both. Then they each choose another one and we do those, too. They’re happy to sit through each other’s books because they know theirs is coming. Plus, it exposes them to books they might not have selected themselves.

3. Let the older child read to the younger ones. If your older child can read, let them practice reading to their younger siblings. Those little siblings won’t be critical of their reading abilities and the older one will love feeling grown up (plus, it gives you a chance to make dinner or shower!).

4. 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!

5. Don’t force it. You don’t want reading to be something that your child resents. 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 another book.


Got a baby bookworm at home? Check out our 5 Quick Tips for Reading Aloud to Your Baby.