You may be wondering  How long should you read with your kids every day?  I am here to tell you why the magic number is reading 20 minutes a night or more.

How long should you read with your kids every day - Kids Activities Blog - child laying on bed with book open and smiling (reading)
Let’s read together today…it is important!

Why Reading with Kids is Important

There are so many things that I, as a teacher, wish that the parents of my students knew about reading with their kids.  Reading for 20 minutes a night is just one of the most important things parents can do to help their kids succeed.

What’s the difference between kids who read more than 30 minutes per day and those who read less than 15 minutes per day? Twelve million. Between kindergarten and twelfth grade, students with an average daily reading time of 30+ minutes are projected to encounter 13.7 million words. At graduation, their peers who averaged less than 15 minutes of reading per day are likely to be exposed to only 1.5 million words. The difference is more than 12 million words.

Renaissance, The Long Term Effects of Reading Practice

It totally makes sense that kids who read more have better vocabulary, reading skills, fluency, reading comprehension and overall literacy. What is surprising is how a consistent 15-20 minutes a day over time can really add up.

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What does reading 20 minutes a night really mean?

It means that your kids are reading out loud to you. When kids read aloud, they are able to practice their reading in a safe and supportive environment. Unfamiliar words that can’t be sounded out can easily be identified and learned. Fluency and the ability for kids to put words into context happen because kids are reading and listening at the same time.

It is one of the best ways to spend quality time together.

My Child Can’t Read for 20 Minutes Aloud

This is a pressure-free zone of reading fun! Set a timer for 20 minutes and let your child read as long as they are willing and then you can take over. If you want to split it up where they read a page and you read a page, that works really well too.

Don’t overlook the power of YOU reading chapter books aloud no matter what age your kids might be. It is a fun family activity that helps kids fall in love with words, stories and reading. It is also a really good example of how reading is an important life skill.

Reading a book to baby - kids activities blog - baby sitting up reading a board book in the playroom
Baby loves to read!

Reading with Babies & Toddlers

This is a good time to start with a routine that stresses reading and time spent exploring books together. Start with a regular good night book or a short reading time before a nap. Work into sitting on the couch together longer times until your child’s interest can be held by books for 10-15 minutes together.

You can read to your child, your child can point to the pictures and guess the story, or anything else playing with books might look like for a pre-reader. The goal is to get kids interested in books and realize they hold stories inside.

Recommended Books for Babies & Toddlers

Start with a trip to the library or some of my favorite baby and toddler books in subjects that interest your child. Here are some to consider for your home library:

family reading together - Kids Activities Blog - two young kids preschoolers and toddlers reading with mom
Let’s read a book together!

Reading with Preschoolers

If your kids are in Pre-school or Kindergarten, they are probably reading the small, repetitive books like “I went to the store.  Mommy went to the store.  Daddy went to the store.  We all had fun!”.

Remember that every journey starts with one step and this is your first step.

Recommended Books for 3 Years & Up

Recommended Books for 4 Years & Up

Kids Reading outside with teddy bear  - Kids Activities Blog
Every book holds an adventure…

REading with Kindergarten Age Kids

For this level, I would suggest reading each of those small books three times each.

  1. The first time you are reading to sound out the words and identify sight words.
  2. The second time you are reading for comprehension.
  3. The third time you are reading for fluency (to read at a faster rate.)

Reminder: If you have not reached 20 minutes yet, this would be a great chance for YOU to read to your child.

Recommended Books for 5 Years & Up

Reading a book to baby - kids activities blog
Let’s read a favorite book today.

Reading with Older Children

I let our son (second grade) read his chapter book to me for about 15-20 minutes.  He would prefer to read it silently, but he has to read it out loud because I can listen to him:

  • I can make sure that he doesn’t just skip over hard words.
  • I can help him with his mistakes.
  • When he is finished, I will ask him to tell me about the story (what happened, who were the characters).
  • I also make sure to read a story to him every night.  Hearing me read aloud is also important.  

Recommended Books for 6 Years & Up – School Age Kids

Consistent Reading for Kids

I know that time is tight.

I know that you are busy.

I know that your kids need to get to bed early.  

I also know that if you skip out on reading nightly, your child will slowly fall behind.  Keep it up. It is important. Give your child the best advantage and read with them twenty minutes a night.   

More Reading & Learning Resources from Kids Activities Blog

How long do you read together with your child each day? Have you seen a difference in your child’s reading ability when you read regularly 20 minutes a day?

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  1. You should look up the science of reading and invest some time in reading about evidence based learning techniques. Fluency is much more than reading fast. Just because a child reads nightly doesn’t mean they will score high on standardize tests or be in the top reading group. We have to stop perpetuating these myths about how children learn to read.

    1. You are so right. Encouraging reading in kids is more than “getting all the words right”. My kids did really well when they were given practice time daily, but I am sure there are other ways for kids to learn to read well. I do think we give kids a better foundation for learning when they are competent readers, but that is just a foundation…

  2. Hello, very nice article and it looks really fun. I have to try it with my son. What is the best age for the kids to start to learn reading?