Easy ways to make time for reading when you are a busy parent. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Easy ways to make time for reading when you are a busy parent. (Jennifer Bardsley)

How busy parents can find time to read — and not just to the kids

Jennifer Bardsley shares her strategies for raising readers, from toddlers to teenagers

There are three types of readers: those who read a few books a year, those who read a few books a week and the roughly 25% of Americans who don’t read any books at all. (That last statistic comes from a 2021 Pew Research Center study.) How is that voracious-reader group finding so much time to read? Here are tricks that have worked for me as a busy mom:

Reading while parenting young children

When my kids were little I’d read a new book every couple of days. The best opportunity was at bath time. Both of my kids loved taking baths and would often splash around in the water, happily playing with toys or shaving cream for over an hour. I’d be right next to them, sitting on the tile floor, reading a library book.

Later, when they turned three and we transitioned them from their cribs to their big-kid beds, I’d lay next to them while they fell completely asleep. This prevented them from playing “Jack in the Box” meaning they didn’t pop out of their room to find me because they were unable to fall asleep. But sometimes I had to lay next to them for an hour or more until they entered dreamland. For times like this, owning a backlit e-reader came in handy because I could read in the dark.

Reading while parenting elementary-aged kids

When my kids were in elementary school we’d check out a new audiobook on CD from the library each time we visited. Any time we drove someplace, we listened to a book. Favorites included the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the non fiction history series “Story of the World” by Susan Wise Bauer. Yes, they were kids books, but I enjoyed them tremendously. Nowadays, in a car without a CD player, the Libby ap would be a great choice. That allows to you to check out audiobooks for free from your local library.

Reading while waiting also helped when my kids were that age. Waiting for guitar lessons … Waiting at school pick up … Waiting at ballet lessons … That time adds up fast. I’d usually have a book or e-reader with me.

Reading while parenting teenagers

Adding a little competition into the mix is another way to read more books. After years of watching me read, my kids have turned it voracious readers too. The other day I looked over and spotted my daughter reading “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Silly me didn’t know we even owned that book! My son is in AP Literature. They both read a lot and my goal is to keep up with them. My teens are the pacer. If they didn’t love reading so much they’d be easier to catch up to.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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