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.
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 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:
- 1, 2, 3, Do the Dinosaur colorful board book
- 199 Things on the Farm book (see also 199 Dinosaurs & 199 Zoo Animals)
- The Alphabet of Peculiar Creatures book
- Kisses, Cuddles and Good Night!
- More Great Books for Kids Ages 1 and 2 years old and older
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
- Alfie and Bet’s ABC pop up book
- Amelia Who Could Fly Picture Book about Amelia Earhart
- The Biggest Story
- Bob is a Unicorn
- More Great Books for Kids Ages 3 years and older
Recommended Books for 4 Years & Up
- Bears Don’t Read!
- Cordelia can fly.
- Different! Flo the flamingo always feels too different, but her friends help her to see that everyone is different.
- Hooray, it’s Garbage Day!
- More Great Books for Kids Ages 4 years and older
REading with Kindergarten Age Kids
For this level, I would suggest reading each of those small books three times each.
- The first time you are reading to sound out the words and identify sight words.
- The second time you are reading for comprehension.
- 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
- 2 Pirates + 1 Robot
- Across the Savannah
- Dogs in Space
- Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs
- More Great Books for Kids Ages 5 years and older
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
- Kids this age still love picture books, here are some of our favorites.
- Early chapter books, fiction
- Series fiction chapter books for kids
- Non-fiction books kids will love to read
- More School age books for kids ages 6 years and older
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
- Books to teach kids to read <–big list!
- Have some fun with reading games for kids.
- Create your own reading programs for kids.
- Check out Scholastic Kids home reading program.
- These reading comprehension worksheets are free and can instantly be downloaded to practice reading skills.
- These fun reading activities are great for kids.
- Set up a kids reading corner at your house or in the classroom.
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?