If you are a parent, you probably started hearing about the benefits of reading to your child even before they were born. We know that reading aloud at an early age is great for babies’ brains, and no matter the age of our child, we should be striving to read with them for 20 minutes a day. I have yet to meet a parent who didn’t understand the importance of reading to their child.

Woman reading to her child

What I do hear over and over from parents is guilt and frustration. Reading with our children every day seems like an easy thing to do, but in a world where thousands of things are competing for our attention, it can be difficult to find the time for reading. As parents, we have jobs to do, bills to pay, homes to clean, and mouths to feed. Fitting reading into the mix can be trickier than it seems.

When I ask parents what frustrations they have when it comes to reading with their kids, the number one I answer I hear is that they have trouble finding time to do it regularly. No matter the age of the child, this is always a top struggle for parents.

And yet, when they share this with me, it’s always in hushed tones, laced with shame and guilt. Lots of parents have trouble making time to read with their kids, but few of them are comfortable admitting it. And these are parents who love reading, love books, and know that reading with their children is important.

I get it. I’ve been there. It can be really hard to build reading aloud into our day-to-day lives when we’re already responsible for so much. And the shame we feel about not reading daily makes it even harder to get started. I know this because I lived it. I was a teacher struggling to find the time to read with my kids. Talk about feeling like a failure!

The good news is you don’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to look like a scene from a magazine. And missing a day of reading when life happens won’t ruin your kids. You just have to be willing to make an effort, and when things go awry…dust yourself off and try again.

Start small. Start with five minutes. Start even if your toddler is running around the room ignoring you. Start even if your older kids are rolling their eyes at how uncool you are. Start even if no one likes the book you’re reading. Pick a day and decide to start.

See if you can read together five minutes a day for one week. Then try for two weeks. After that, bump it up to ten minutes. Don’t expect perfection. Just make the effort and commit to trying.

Most of all, don’t give up. Give yourself grace. Life isn’t perfect, and your read aloud time won’t be either. But if you keep it up, it will be worth it.

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