Strategy for Reading to Little Ones - Linking Habits

I confess, I don't always enjoy reading to my children. But like exercise and home cooked meals, it's one of the things I value most, and I try to make it a priority.

Since I'm reading so much to my older kids, it's particularity challenging to read to my 4 year old. I never feel like it, and I certainly can't rely on myself to stick to a bedtime story. After dinner I'm a shell of a parent, here in body but not in spirit.


My strategy: linking this habit (reading) to a non-negotiable activity (in our case, leaving for school)
This is also called habit stacking in some circles.

4 days a week, I take Caroline to nursery school. About 20 minutes before we walk out the door, I tell her to pick out 2 books. We cozy up in a chair and I read to her for about 12-15 minutes. It's become a part of our routine as we prepare to leave the house. It's a sweet moment to connect before she leaves for several hours, and it's short!! There is an ending point. Ok, time to go to school.

I wish I had implemented this strategy with my other kids when they were younger - short and sweet read alouds linked to a habit. In the past I was hot or cold. It was 10 books or none. I think persistence and building the habit are preferable to occasional marathon sessions.

Other things you could link the reading habit it to:
read while the kettle gets hot or your tea steeps
read in the the carpool line when picking up an older child
read right before bath time
read during snack time
read when you pour your second cup of coffee, not the first - that's sacred 

Do you implement any strategies like this? How do you fit in reading aloud with multiple children?


  1. This is so smart! I’ve never heard of this type of strategy. We read before bed—each child can pick a book. And for the little kid/s who are home with me during the day, I’ll read to them occasionally throughout the day if they pick up a book and bring it to me. This works for us for now, as getting out the door for school is usually crazy time.

  2. "habit stacking" - definitely going to be thinking about that one! We've always linked reading to nap/bedtimes. It's usually just 1 book, but of course, the books get longer and turn into chapters from a chapter book as the kids get older. I still read to my middle schoolers most nights!
    I enjoy reading to my kids if it's a good book (I see what Caroline is holding there - we love those "If You Give" books!). I am frank about the books I don't love and WHY - this is real talk about books and that's what readers do!

  3. Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real hard work to make a great article… Tom Hardy Long Coat


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