9 tips from real parents on how they find time for stories

Reading together is a fun way to instil a love of books into kids from a young age. It supports language and literacy development and can be a great source of entertainment! We asked our parents how they find time for stories in amongst their busy schedules, and here’s what they said.

Puffin team
tips from real parents on how they find the time to read

1. Find just ten minutes a day

It’s proven that just ten minutes of reading can aid literacy development and enhance their vocabulary. Kayleigh Baldwin practises this daily with her family, ‘Every night we read for ten minutes before bed’.

2. Use car time

Audiobooks are a great way to absorb a story on the go. Sarah McCall routinely listens when she is driving. ‘We listen often when we are driving too. We like a mix of reading books and making up stories.’ If they prefer physical books, keep some in the backseat to occupy them during the journey. ‘We always have books in the car for journeys’, says Angela Lewis.

3. When you don’t have books to hand, get inventive

Why not make some stories up together? Little ones will find it hilarious and it will spark creativity. Emma King says ‘As well as books we make up adventure stories about our dog Broccoli. He has been an astronaut, vet, train driver, etc. Those stories always have the same beginning and end with the adventure in the middle’. Shel Holland agrees: ‘When we don't have books me and my son make up stories, I think it's good for kids to use their imaginations too.’

4. Suggest they read to you

It will encourage their confidence and help develop their reading skills. Why not involve the whole family, like Elizabeth Vershowske: ‘Every evening, just before bed, I read to my nine-year-old or he reads to me and his baby brother.’

5. Read just a page, whenever you have time

It's easy to think you need to spend ages reading a book together, but sometimes just a couple of minutes is enough. They'll be desperate to find out what happens next and ask for more. Anna Skitzo practises this method: ‘Take it in turns to read a page or chapter. They can read to me, then I can read to them’.

A photo of a little girl and her mum, laying on a bed and reading a book together
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

6. Read at mealtimes

It will keep them busy and add some fun to dinner! ‘It miraculously stops the children from messing around/arguing with each other over the dinner table!’, says Lorraine Pemberton.

7. Leave books in convenient places

If you have books on hand, that are easy to access, you will be more likely to read together. Nicole Ord uses this tactic ‘We have these dotted all over the house, bedrooms, living room, landing so books are readily available for us to read.’

8. Make a reading nook

They’ll love getting cosy and settling down with a story in their special place. Hayley Hardy has one in her living room, ‘We have a book nook for the kids in a corner of the living room’. And it’s so easy to make a reading nook with what you already have. Follow our step-by-step, or just choose a spot, grab a couple of chairs, throw a blanket on top, chuck in a few cushions, and voila!

9. Bedtime is often the perfect time

Selena Appleby loves a story last thing at night, ‘Stories are always the last thing before bed for my two-year-old and 18-month-old. It started with one story when he was tiny and has gradually increased. We can read up to five before bed now’.

Some answers have been edited for clarity.

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