I love reading to my kids every night before bed.
But, some nights it feels more like a chore than other nights. Especially when they’ve given me a hard time with their nighttime routine or it’s particularly late.
The worst is when they choose the longest book in their collection and cannot be talked out of it (which, believe me, is typically my first strategy). I seriously think our 4-year-old daughter knows the difference in length of books and chooses the long ones on purpose to delay going to bed!
For those nights, my husband and I have a couple of tricks up our sleeves:
The Page Skipper
This typically only works with younger kids, but I can still occasionally get away with it with my 4-year-old. This is exactly how it sounds, instead of turning and reading each page, skip a page or two in between. You can even bridge the gap by adding in some of the story (which you already know by heart) that you skipped.
Did you read CliffsNotes® when you were in school? For those that didn’t, this was the best cheat ever. These handy guides summarized the subject matter, condensing it and making it much quicker to read. You can apply the same concept to reading a children’s book. Instead of reading word for word, summarize the text on the page. This will get you to the end in record time.
Let’s Talk about It
This cheat is where you don’t read the book at all, just look at the pictures and ask your child questions about them. Examples include: What’s happening on this page? How does this character feel? What is he/she upset about? Do you know what’s going to happen next?
I love this one – this gives us an opportunity to explore the book in a different way, adding new layers of understanding and changing up the reading routine if it is getting stale.
In this trick, you can read the first sentence on every page and skip the rest. Similar to above, you may have to improvise to make the story work, but it’s an easy way to get through a book with a lot text on every page.
You Read to Me or You Tell Me the Story
This works really well once they’ve memorized the story. My daughter can repeat most of the story word for word. You may have to give a few prompts here and there but it still gives you a break from having to read it yourself for the 100th time. Warning: If you’re looking for speed, this may not be the right trick because sometimes this can take even more time.
Remove the Longest Stories
When all else fails, or when the little buggers get old enough to know your tricks, try simply removing the super long books from their bedroom. Make them available somewhere else in the house for daytime story reading.
Want to know which ones are our current offenders? Some of these books used to be my absolute favorite books in the world, until I realized just how long they are when you are reading them for the 1,000th time:
ANYTHING BY DR. SEUSS (I know, I know, classics, but…)
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Here are some great short books for inspiration:
These cheats are great for breaking up the reading routine and zipping through the bedtime story in record time. If you’re really in a rush, my favorite is definitely the CliffsNotes®. Otherwise, experiment with each and maybe even try a little mix and match.
I’m always looking for new tricks. Share yours in the comments!
Shan Walker (@shanGURUwalker) says
‘The Rainbow Fish!” I remember that long, stinking book. haha Gotta do what you have to I guess – kudos to you for making the commitment of reading to your kiddos so often. WTG.
The How-to Guru
Tabitha Blue / Fresh Mommy Blog says
Ha! It’s so true though, they always pick the longest ones! Great tips 🙂
We do the “let’s talk about it” a lot, especially after we’ve already read some books
Megan @ The Many Little Joys says
When it’s late, I specifically tell my kids they have to pick a short book, or I’ll read the “short version” (Cliff’s Notes) of a long book. They don’t seem to mind so far (oldest is 4). And, YES, about Dr. Seuss! As much as I love him and the books are brilliant, they are also SO long. I like to read those around 4 or 5 in the afternoon when I’m trying to survive the time until Daddy gets home. 🙂 I’m going to have to check out the Mr. Tiger book. I’ve never heard of it, but it looks really cute.
Oh man! I thought I was the only one who did this. Now I feel better. haha Great tips here.
Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms says
Oh man, I keep hiding Dr. Seuss’s “Fox in Socks” and my daughter keeps finding it! That one is a hard read at the end of a long day!
Stephanie Loomis Pappas of Snackdinner says
I’ve made it a general rule that I will “Drop Everything and Read” (Did your elementary school have the DEAR program?) every time my child brings me a book, and I do my best to stick to that at bedtime too, but I do sometimes give my child a choice of three books, carefully selected for length, and ask him to pick one. I don’t want to dampen any enthusiasm for reading, but sometimes mama needs to sleep!
Genius tricks for the little ones! I will have to remember this when we read for bedtime on a more regular basis!
Stephanie Lowry says
Oh they always pick the longest ones! Haha Great tips! Definitely putting them into practice.
we do these all the time, especially when I can’t hang at night lol! I don’t call it cheating, I say we’re keeping it new and exciting!
This is so true! They always pick out the longest ones! So we have a deal–two short ones or one long one! And I am totally guilty of hiding the books that I despise under the bed!