Get the most out of evening reading time with your child

Parents, if you only have 15 minutes in the evening to spend on homework with your struggling reader, I strongly suggest that you spend it having them read out loud to you. By choosing to spend your time this way, your child will learn new words and gain confidence in an environment where they feel safe to make mistakes. Here are a few tips to help make the reading experience with your child a positive one.  

The environment:

  • Pick a comfortable place but one that will still allow your child to focus. For example, sitting on the couch may be a great option, while lying in bed may make your child feel sleepy.
  • Check for distractions. You may only have 15 minutes, so let’s make them count. Turn off the television or the radio and make sure there aren’t any toys within reach during your reading time. If your child works better with white noise in the background, just turn down the volume or try instrumental music. The more your child focuses and engages with the story, the more pleasant and effective the practice time will be. 

The reading process:

  • Before starting, be sure to activate your child’s prior knowledge by asking them to make predictions based on the cover. Some sample questions include:
    •  “What do you think will happen to _____ in this story’? 
    • “Look at his face, how do you think he’s feeling?” “Why do you think he’s feeling that way?”
    • “What’s happening in the background of the cover picture?”
    • “Do you think that all the characters are here on the cover or are there some that aren’t shown?”
  • While your child is reading to you, be sure to stop and ask them questions as they go. This will help ensure that the book is a good reading comprehension level for your child. It will also ensure that they slow down to understand what they are reading, instead of just flying through. Many students have very good fluidity, but are not advancing in their reading assessments at school because they don’t take the time to understand what they are reading and, consequently, aren’t able to answer the teacher’s questions. Here are some sample questions:
    • “What did you learn about the character from this page?”
    • “Why do you think the character did that?”
    • “How do you think the character feels about what just happened?”
    • “Can you tell me about what big event just happened in the story?” 
    • “Did that event surprise you? Why or why not?” 
    • “What are the “Who, what, where or when” in this story? 

  • After your child has finished reading the book, take a moment to check your predictions. 
    • “Did things play out the way you expected?” 
    • “Which character did you like the best or least? Why?
    • “How did you feel about the ending?” “Is there something that you would change about it if you were the author?”

Another fun activity to add to your reading routine is to keep a journal of the books that you read together. Write the title of each book in an exercise book and both you and your child can give it a rating (2 stars, 4 stars etc). This is a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your child and build on the idea that reading is a positive activity that you can do together. As one study concludes, even 15 minutes of reading each day can allow for “huge gains (Baca, 2008).”      


For more information about virtual or in-person tutoring, contact Mme Michelle at




Baca, M. E. (2008, May 28). Reading rehab: One district is finding that simple measures are helping kids read. Star Tribune Retrieved from

1 comment

Heather Barbour

I love these suggestions! That’s a great way to approach reading to a child! Great blog!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published