What Does Read Aloud Time Look Like at Our House

And how do those kids listen for that long?

Like most homeschoolers great literature is a steady part of our diet. We’re not just chowing down on one book at a time, but generally consuming several.

We each have a personal stack of reading. We also have our family basket of reading. We read the Bible after every meal. I read to the younger children while the older boys complete their independent work. I read to the older children while the little ones nap. We take personal reading breaks throughout the day. And, our days end with more family read aloud time before bed.

Yeah, it’s a good life.

homeschool read alouds

What Does Read Aloud Time Look Like at Our House

Before we start reading I give the children time to pick a quiet activity.Anything that keeps their hands busy while their ears are listening.  In this picture Naomi is dressing-up her wooden magnetic doll set.  Zion is my engineering guy.  He enjoys building with tangrams or our Melissa & Doug pattern blocks. He’ll also work on Erector sets, Pringle chip can creations {he has created some pretty cool inventions using those cans ;0}, and Legos. Lots and lots of Lego love here.

What is not allowed during reading time:

1.) Reading another book while mom is reading to the family

2.) Leaving the room

3.) Loud play with toys


We enlist a variety of quiet activities during family read aloud time.  At age 2 1/2 Gabriel engages quietly in sewing Melissa & Doug lacing cards, sorts in his pre-school sensory tub, works on puzzles or draws. Although Gabriel and Liam take their nap during our afternoon read aloud time.  Gabriel does however sit through longer bedtime reading. Right now we’re reading the gospel of Luke and Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates (free on Kindle) in the evenings.

Drawing Time

Here’s a peek at our bedtime reading time.  The children are drawing and listening.


Jadin has always been an artist. As long as I can remember he is constantly creating something phenomenal in the art arena. He usually is drawing sketches for whatever the latest story is that he’s creating.  In this picture he’s drawing Jesus on the cross.


Sewing Time


Naomi is a little mother-in-training. Recently, I started her on sewing. She loves doing needle work while she listens. 



Mothers of boys; you know what this is, right?  The Lego tubs have been pulled out for afternoon family reading time.


Painting/Craft Time


The children also work on hand crafts during reading.  They can paint, use play doh, sculpt with clay, draw.  I’m pretty flexible with whatever they’d like to do.  As long as they can narrate back to me what is taking place in the story, then I know they’re soaking it up.


I will guarantee you though that family reading can certainly get messy.   This is the reality of a very fulfilling, yet messy, reading time.  Yummy, yummy, reading!

Here’s a recap of simple activities for children during reading time:

What are some activities that your children do during read aloud time?




  1. Alice says

    I really enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing this with us! I also really enjoyed that you posted your December menu and shopping list. Would you consider doing that each month?

    • says

      Thank you Alice. I have thought about sharing my shopping/monthly menu every month, since I’m doing it anyway. :) I usually go in the middle of the month though. Somehow that’s the “system” that I’m on. Maybe I’ll do it again middle of January. Do you once-a-month grocery shop?

      • Alice says

        No, I don’t, but I definitely agree with you that every time I walk in a store it’s costing me money. I guess the thought of getting organized for a once-a-month shopping trip for our family of six is a little overwhelming to me. Being a person who constantly has to fight my own perfectionism, I find your your simplified approach very encouraging. :)

        • says

          The simple way that I started was multiply my weekly list x4. There are many things that we don’t need x4, and I’ve been able to slowly weed those out. You’ve given me an idea of something I can make and share for those just starting out w/ OAMS—>>>see my brain smoking :)

          • Dayna says

            First I just want to thank you for the time you put into your blog! We decided to homeschool our daughter next fall and I am very excited and nervous all at the same time. Your blog has helped me so much to get ideas on how to structure our time and to feel a little more confident that if this is God’s will for us even I can do this 😉

            I would be very interested to learn how I might go about teaching my 4year old sewing. She is very interested in helping every time she sees me sewing on the machine and actually spent all of last Christmas telling us she wanted one of the little girl sewing machines for her present. We did not think that it was very age appropriate at this time. I do not hand sew though :/ I noticed your little one is using and embrodrey hoop with a piece of fabric in it. Does she use embrodry thread? Do you trace a pattern on the fabric for her to follow? Any advice you might have to help me get her started would be great!

  2. Amy says

    I have a 2 year old with special needs. We have found that at bedtime it is best to put him in his crib and sit on the floor with our backs to the crib and read. He looks over our shoulder at the pictures and actually is able to attend to longer stories than he can when we sit with him in our laps. We take advantage of this time to read him The Jesus Storybook Bible. He LOVES it and will often beg us to read him 3-4 chapters a night.

    We are also working on potty training both boys (ages 1 and 2) so I take them both in the bathroom with a stack of books. They sit on the potties and I read. And read. And read. For some reason sitting on the potties helps to focus their attention so we put the time to good use. Whatever works.

    I really like the ideas you have for helping your kids to sit and listen to you while you read. We do a lot of short books throughout the day, but I may try this after lunch today and see if we can get some longer ones in. What kinds of things did you do when your kids were very young? My youngest just turned a year (and is very, very busy!) and my oldest is 2 but his abilities are more those of an 18 mo-early 2 year old. I would love to see some ideas you used when yours were really little.

    • says

      Amy, when my oldest was little {he was an only child for 3-years} I just read to him while he was playing. And I read him short stories throughout the day like you already do. I could probably take pointers from you. :) I started reading him chapter books when he was 5, and our 2nd child was 2. For our 2-3 hr afternoon reading time our younger boys are napping. During these afternoon “reading parties” I’m reading to a 5, 8 & 11-year old–a very easy crowd to please. Gabriel, our 2-year old, listens well during our other reading times throughout the day-but he has 3 siblings before him to model.

      Please don’t feel pressure if a longer reading time with a 1 & 2-year old doesn’t pan out. :) It sounds like you’re doing lovely things with your little ones.

  3. Michelle Bonneau says

    How old is your little girl ! I am amazed that she is doing needle point my little girl just turned five and I really wanted to start her on sewing because she loves it but I was worried about pricking fingers and whether or not it is age appropriate! She so wants to be like momma and start making things for baby number three? Any advice would greatly be appreciated !

    • says

      I wouldn’t worry about her pricking her fingers too much. That’s part of the learning process no matter the age!

      A hundred years ago, 5 was more than old enough to have begun a sampler, learned to knit on fine needles, learned to make professional-quality needle lace, and to help with darning the family socks. That list isn’t appropriate today, but the point remains that the ability is there, waiting to be harnessed.

      PS I started learning embroidery when I was 3.

    • says

      Michelle, our little girl is 5. Naomi did some sewing with my mom over the summer and loved it. She has done lacing cards for awhile and tired of those. I thought this was a great, and cheap, skill she could learn. She is already asking for her own sewing machine, which I don’t feel is age appropriate. But as far as simple needle and thread she has been eager to learn and has done well. If your daughter is showing you signs that she is ready to so you may want to go for it. :)

  4. says

    My mother used to have me do origami to keep my hands busy.

    My almost-three-year-old is learning to sit still during read aloud time. The best help in that has been enlisting him as my official page-turner!

  5. says

    My son totally gets lost in what he is doing, so I have to have his quite activity relate to teh reading. He usually does some art/craft based on the reading as I read. Like drawing or painting a picture of what I’m reading or making a clay figure of a character in the story, etc….

  6. Tiffany says

    I would love to hear from other moms who read your Blog and from you about the books your family loves. I do not want this to cause debate or judgement. If I feel like a particular book won’t fit with my family we just will not read it; simple as that. I just LOVE books and am always on the hunt of treasures! Thanks,
    My family loves the Rachel Yoder “Always In Trouble Series” We get these from our library on Audio CD and listen in the car when they are sitting :)

    • says

      That’s a great idea Tiffany! It’s on my to-do list. 😉 I have a free print about on the freebie/printable page with a list of Civil War books. Those are the main read alouds we’re working on this year. Although we’re currently taking a break from those and reading Christmas classics like Little Women, Hans Brinker and the Velveteen Rabbit. We get these free on Kindle. :)

      The Rachel Yoder series sounds like on that Naomi would like. I want to start reading the Little House books to her also. Oh my, so many books, lol!

    • says

      I find that is a great time too! Many times I eat while I’m making the kids’ lunches. That way I can read to them while they eat. :) They certainly are a captive audience that way. 😉

  7. Lynn says

    Thank you… my little one worms so much during reading more than 1 book. I think I will try these techniques.

  8. Kelley says

    I was searching a free student planner when I found your site. I have 5 children ages; 13, 11, 8, 6, and 35 mos. It seems everytime I try to read I tell the kids to get something quiet. When I’m ready to read some of them are talking, all of a sudden one needs to go to the bathroom, or another leaves the room. It’s full of chaos so half the time it’s frustrating for me, and I say forget it what is the point. No one is listening anyways. Do you have any advice for me??

  9. Virginia Murphy says

    I LOVE your insight and advice!!! This site has been such a blessing to me! I have 3 children (7,5 & 4). After lots of prayer and seeking God we have decided to start homeschooling next year. I have been so fearful of whether or not I can do this…but everywhere i turn God is placing such inspiration and knowledge for me to prepare my family for this journey. Thank you so much for your sharing spirit and the simplicity you put into making things work! I try so hard to do it all and at the end of the day I feel I have failed everyone. As I continue to follow your blogs it is helping me rid myself of what is not important! Thank You so much and God Bless You!


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