Why Bedtime Reading Isn’t Just for Babies:: Tips from a Teacher

Bedtime Reading for Older KidsIf you no longer have those squishy little babies running up to jump on your lap at night, you might think that your kids have grown out of bedtime reading. Maybe, once those cute picture books were shelved for the thicker ones, you thought, “Hey, time for my kid to read independently.” Perhaps, by the end of the night, you’re just ready for some alone time. (Hey, mama, we’ve ALL felt that way!). Here are some tips that will hopefully encourage you to keep reading even after those littles get bigger.

Reading Facts

Did you know that a kid who reads just 20 minutes a day will be exposed to 1.8 million words a year?! Let that sink in a little. 1.8 million!  Compare that to the kid who reads just 5 minutes a day who will come across only 282,000 words a year. Striking difference. It’s so crucial that reading teachers everywhere have used “reading 20 minutes” as their homework assignment for years because it is the most essential reading activity you can do.

Reading helps develop vocabulary, enhance creativity, boost your energy and enthusiasm, decrease depression, lower stress, and improve sleep!  Who doesn’t want their kids to sleep better? Who doesn’t want to sleep better herself?! (I mean…word melatonin right here!)

Bedtime ReadingYes, we are all swamped.

The schedules that some of my middle-schoolers have been bordering that of the President. If you’re a mom of a kid in any activities, you’re probably running a carpool for hours after 3pm. I know it. I’m in the car for more than I’d like to be, too.  I understand that the “reading homework” can be quickly passed off on your child, but the importance of reading with your child doesn’t end after he or she can read independently.  

Spending time reading

Aside from the academic benefits of reading together, I find that my most enjoyable moments at night with my kids involve reading. We get some extra snuggle time, laugh, ask questions, and are surprised together. I also learn a lot about my kids’ days when we read. They open up about different situations, ask me questions, tell me about their struggles. Sometimes, kids can be so distant and quiet, and reading can bring you together.  You don’t have to be a “perfect” reader to read with your children; trust me, they don’t care! They just really want to spend time with you.  Sometimes, reading is hard for older kids, and they’re afraid to tell someone. If you read with them at night, you can know their struggles, reassure them, and help them to become better readers.

So, now, you want to raise a reader…but how?  Here are a few ideas that you will hopefully find helpful.



No, it’s not cheating.  My daughter and I love to listen to books during our commute.  We have fun listening to the voices, and we are already a captive audience. Even my three-year-old son enjoys the stories. (If you have a fairy-tale lover, might I recommend the Whatever After series?) And, did you know that the Omaha Public Library has an app called Libby? You can download audiobooks for free using your library card!!

Read at the breakfast/lunch/dinner table

Have you ever needed to wait for someone after you’ve cooked your meal? Carpool arriving late? Late work meeting? If so, break out a book and have story time right there at your table!  I promise it will calm your nerves at your impending lukewarm meal.

Take weekend or evening trips to the library, coffee shop, or bookstore 

My kids LOVE to go on outings. We can often be found inside a bookstore, coffee shop, or library sipping a warm beverage and enjoying some good books.  It makes reading an event, and it just feels more special, instead of a chore.

Start or join a book club

Many moons ago, my friends and I started up a book club. Each person hosts a different month of the book club, and the host (or hostess in our case) chose the book and prepared some food and refreshments. I promise kids are watching what you’re doing.  If you go to a book club, your kids will be more interested in book clubs. Maybe you can host a book club at your house for your kids and their friends? My daughter has always wanted to have her own book club!   

Nightly reading routine

To calm the chaos, set aside 20 minutes at bedtime to read books. You can take turns reading to each other. Find a place to sit, relax, unplug, and just enjoy.  

Happy reading!

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Erica is an Omaha transplant from Northern California and has lived in Omaha off and on since 1993. She is mom to two wonderful children who fill her with love and joy. Because her husband’s career requires him being gone for long stretches of time, she has learned to streamline being a career mama while flying solo for months at a time. Her middle school reading students add some excitement to her days, and her kids keep the humor going strong into the evenings. Erica also manages to have a Mary Kay business in her "free time". She has many tips for traveling with small children as well, since she travels internationally with the kiddos at least once a year. She enjoys reading, and belongs to the best book club ever; being active; and sharing an occasional cup of coffee or wine with friends. You'll find her out and about on weekends and evenings embracing every drop of motherhood.