8 Ways To Fit Reading Into Your Busy Schedule

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8 Ways to Fit Reading Into Your Busy Schedule

Nicole Clevenger is with us today to share some handy tips for fitting quality reading time into our busy after school schedules.


It’s back to school time, and when you meet your child’s teacher for the first time, you will be bombarded with different ways to support your child’s reading at home.


Your child’s teacher will tell you that reading at home is an important predictor in creating and supporting lifelong readers.  When the teacher (strongly) suggests that your child read at home, and self-select reading material, every single night for 15-30 minutes, you’ll think sure, no problem!  But then you will begin to panic, because when you think about the hectic evenings in your house you don’t see how this is going to be possible.  Your family has soccer practice after school, piano lessons, math homework, projects due, baths/showers, and bedtime rituals.  Multiply this by several children, and the realization that at some point among all of this craziness everyone has to eat, and there are no more minutes left in your day.


Family schedules can be chaotic, so finding time to fit reading into your evening routines may seem like an impossible task.  However, with a little creativity and resourcefulness you can squeeze those minutes in, and more importantly find time for some quality moments with your children.  Here are 8 ways to fit reading into your family’s busy schedule:


  1.  Encourage your children to carry a book at all times. Keep books in the car, in backpacks, and even in your own purse!  While one of your children is waiting for her sibling’s soccer practice to end, hand her a book.  On the way to the softball field, your child can sneak in a few more pages while she’s in the car.  Does she have a doctor’s appointment? Let her read in the waiting room.  If your child always has a book on hand, she can read during all of the “down times” that happen throughout the day!


  1.  Listen to audio books in the car.  There are magnificent audio books at your local library that come highly recommended because of the narration.  Turn off the radio, and listen to a book (yes, teacher’s still consider that reading).  Whether it’s a short trip to the grocery store or a weekend visit to grandma’s house two hours away, who doesn’t love to sit and listen to someone else read to them?  It’s also a good model for fluent and expressive reading!

8 Ways to Fit Reading Into Your Busy Schedule


  1.  Download audio books to an iPod, iPad or Android/iPhone.  Did you know that you can download audio books from the library or use a mobile or desktop app like OverDrive Media Console?  Visit OverDrive which allows you to download a book for a specified lending period.  Your child can listen to the book while she’s doing chores or walking the dog.

 *Be sure to go back and read the post from April 7, 2014.  Rebecca from Thirteen Red Shoes recommended some great audio books that her family enjoys.  For more information about the benefits of audio books, check out this article by Denise Johnson, assistant professor of reading education at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

8 Ways to Fit Reading Into Your Busy Schedule


4.  Read aloud during dinner preparations.  Ask your child to read to YOU while you’re cooking dinner, or better yet take turns cooking and reading to one another.  She can read the next chapter in her favorite book or review recipes.  To get your family talking about current events at the dinner table, choose to share magazine articles and newspaper headlines.


  1.  Make reading part of your family’s daily routine.  In my house, bedtime is the easiest way to fit in reading.  The kids are tired, they’re quiet (usually), and they don’t mind sitting still.  But if that doesn’t work for you and your family, try a different time – maybe first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, waiting for the bus, or directly after school.  Is there a certain time that you check your e-mails, read the paper, or catch up on your favorite blog?  This is a perfect time for your child to engage in some reading too.


6.  Share poetry.  Poetry is quick, it’s easy, and it only takes a few minutes to share.  Over the course of a day or a week, those minutes add up to a whole lot of reading.


7.  Select a family read aloud. Ask your librarian for books that appeal to a wide range of ages and read together as a family.  Everyone gets to read (or listen) at once, and no more juggling around everyone’s schedules.  There are some wonderful novels that the whole family would enjoy, and you are never too old for picture books.


*Any of these titles would make a wonderful read aloud for the entire family:

The BFG – Roald Dahl

The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate

The Tale of Desperaux – Kate DiCamillo

Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder


8.  Add reading time to your calendar.  It might sound forced, but everything else is on your calendar so why not add time to read?  Schedule a time each week for the family to stop, drop, and read.  Everyone has to drop whatever they’re doing (yes, including you) and READ.  Anything goes – books, magazines, comics, newspapers, blogs, etc.  Instead of movie night every Friday, make every other Friday reading night and focus on different genres (have a mystery night or poetry night).  Every member of the family needs to have something in that genre to read or share.

8 Ways to Fit Reading Into Your Busy Schedule


Time may be at a minimum in your busy household, but when it comes to raising a reader finding a way to fit in those 15-30 minutes each night will be well worth the extra effort.  How do you find time in your family’s schedule to make reading a priority?



Nicole Clevenger

Nicole Clevenger is an imaginative mommy and 2nd-/3rd-grade teacher who believes that the best approach to life is hands-on. She is here to share her love for language, reading, and play by creating lessons that inspire. Nicole holds an MEd from The Ohio State University and a K–8 Teaching Certificate. When she’s not in the classroom, Nicole is diving into every picture book and middle-grade novel she can get her hands on, as well as learning alongside her two daughters.



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  1. Fantastic post Nicole! We love listening to audio books in the car too ~ a lovely way to pass the time and enjoy a story together.

  2. Great suggestions! My favorite is having a book on-hand at all times. Even for ME! I don’t know how many times I’ve been stuck waiting for an appointment wishing I had brought a book. What a great idea for my kids too!

    1. I take a book with me everywhere! And I always seem to have several in my car in case of emergencies 🙂 Lately, I’ve been making sure I have several picture books in the car for my 3 and 5 year old too.

  3. Fantastic post! We love audio books in the car, too, and my daughters have started some great series that way: Sisters Grimm, Harry Potter, Just Grace, Clementine, and Junie B. Jones. My girls also carry a book wherever they go, and we’ll often read together (different books) at bedtime.

    1. Thanks Melissa! So excited to see that you stopped by to read my post. Check out the entire site – it’s fantastic!! My kindergartner loves Pete the Cat, so we’ve been listening to those books lately (and watching the videos on the HarperCollins website).

  4. Thanks for all the suggestions. They sound great! My oldest daughter is starting school next week, so a new stage for her and for me on how to guide and support her. Many thanks 🙂

  5. Great post! I keep a collection of books in the car as well. I love audiobooks for two reasons. First, because they are engaged in a story during drive time. Second, I have found that my kids will often read a book that doesn’t look or sound interesting once they have gotten “hooked” on the story by starting an audiobook. I often keep magazines with me for places it’s harder to read (maybe noisy), but easier to peruse an article.

  6. Our family finds too much time to read and too little time to run, but I loved your idea to have my child read to me while I prepare dinner. This is usually the time of day when my son is most “challenging” and wants my attention. What a great way to interact with him when he doesn’t want to help in the kitchen. Thank you for the helpful suggestion.

  7. I enjoyed reading your suggestions and fully concur with keeping a book in the car and schedule in time together with a child.
    We used to read a chapter of a longer book to the boys each night or a Bible story they liked and needed to know better. We also went over books with questions like,What do you think will happen next with James ( James and Giant Peach) or do you think the children were wise to go through the wardrobe? etc I think that helps better comprehension.

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