How to Have a Peaceful Read Aloud with These Fun, Quiet Activities

Read alouds can be frustrating when your children are distracting. Send those interruptions packing when your kids do these read aloud activities as you read.

You’re halfway through the day’s chapter of your current read aloud. You glance up to quiet one of your children. But then you notice that two others are missing. Now where did they go?

Then you see them. Wrestling on the floor again.

You begin to wonder for the eleventh time this week (and it’s only Tuesday): Why do I bother with read alouds when my kids obviously have no desire to listen?

What do you do when you want to incorporate read alouds into your day, but your kids are so disruptive during it that you want to throw in the towel? Or, more accurately, throw the book across the room in frustration?

How to Have Peaceful Read Alouds

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When you use a morning basket in your homeschool, you read aloud to your children on a daily basis. However, if you expect your children to sit quietly next to you and listen intently to every word, you may soon be disappointed and frustrated when reality sets in.

But you don’t have to give up your dream of a peaceful read aloud experience. You just need to be a little creative in your approach and find something to occupy your kids while you read.

This post is the 4th in my Morning Basket series. You may enjoy reading the previous posts as well.

Reading Aloud Has Many Benefits

A daily read aloud, or several, is beneficial for children of all ages. Picture books or chapter books, it doesn’t matter as long as you are reading to your children. Yes, even your children who know how to read. Why?

Marie Rippel from All About Learning Press mentions in this article that reading aloud has several benefits.

Reading aloud:

  • Helps further language development, including vocabulary.
  • Creates positive associations with literature.
  • Encourages good family relationships.
  • Aids in the increase of attention spans.
  • Develops imagination.
  • Increases reading comprehension and other reading skills.

Read Aloud Activities to Keep Kids Focused and Quiet

So, yes, reading aloud is good and has many benefits. But how do you keep your kids focused long enough to do it?

You keep their hands busy!

A variety of resources or activities can keep your kids occupied during read alouds. Some may work for your family better than others. In my house, I’ve noticed that we need to switch up our read aloud activities from time to time when they aren’t as effective anymore. Read through the following ideas and choose a couple to try out.

Read Alouds Activity

Tips to Try First

Try the following tips to see if these issues could be contributing to the read aloud disruptions.

Shorten the Read Aloud Time.

Your kids may be acting up when you read aloud because they get bored. It could be that they aren’t developmentally ready to sit for a longer time just yet.

So try shortening the read aloud time. You could always break it up into a couple of read alouds throughout the day if you don’t want to cut down on the amount you read. As your children get better at sitting quietly, then you could slowly add more minutes in to your read aloud time.

Slow Your Pace.

Another reason your children may act up during read alouds could be the speed at which you read. If you read too quickly, your children may not have time to process what you are saying. So they tend to tune out, which then leads to disruptions.

To see if this could be a problem, deliberately try to slow down as you read. Give your kids some time to catch up in their minds. Perhaps as you are slowing down, you could change your inflection as well.

Change the Books You Are Reading

Could it be that your children are just not interested in the books you are reading? I know that we have tried a few books in our read aloud years that we ended up putting down after chapter 3. We just couldn’t get into them. Perhaps your kids would like to listen to a different type of book.

Also, some books do not lend themselves well to reading aloud. Many books with a variety of characters talking can be cumbersome to listen to aloud, especially if you don’t like (or don’t want) to do voices for each character. Sarah MacKenzie of Read Aloud Revival has wonderful lists of great read aloud books. I choose many of our read alouds based on her recommendations. She also has a fantastic book, The Read Aloud Family, that includes read aloud book lists divided by age and descriptions of each book. This will help you decide if a book will be a good fit for your family.

Read Aloud Books We Have Enjoyed During Morning Basket

We have read aloud the following chapter books in the last three years. My kids were around ages 7-14 when we read these. I did also read many of the Little House books at bedtime when my children were around ages 3-8, so that series I would recommend as young as older preschool/kindergarten for read alouds.

Activities to Occupy Your Kids While You Read

Even when you’ve tried reading interesting books more slowly for shorter times, your kids still may get distracted from time to time. Or every time. Below I have listed activities that have worked to keep children quiet and focused during read alouds.


One of the best ways I’ve found to keep my kids occupied and quiet is to have them eat while I read. I know many families do read alouds over meals, such as breakfast and lunch. My kids enjoy a snack during our read aloud time. It’s difficult for your kids to talk and be disruptive when they have food in their mouths!


My kids like to draw while I read. Sometimes they draw what I’m reading about. Other times they draw whatever comes to mind. Coloring, whether in books or on blank paper, can also be a good activity while listening to read alouds.

Puzzles and Games

Working on puzzles while listening to you read is a perfect way to keep children quiet. My 3-year-old often sits at my feet while I read, working on a couple of chunky puzzles. If your children are older, jigsaw puzzles at a table could work well.

Along with puzzles, matching games are a great quiet read aloud activity. Word searches are an additional idea for older children.

Read Aloud Activities

Sticker Books and Stamping

After food, I think Paint by Sticker books are my kids’ favorite read aloud activities. The Kids’ version of these are good for younger kids, but my kids thought they were too easy.

Regular stickers and copy paper are also fun activities for read alouds, especially for preschool/kindergarten age children. I will just give my little guy a sheet of fun stickers and a half sheet of paper, which keeps him quiet for awhile.

Stamp pads and blank paper are also useful. The Melissa and Doug stamp sets are always a hit at our house. Kids can make fun scenes with the animal and character sets, while the alphabet set is fun for spelling out words.

Sensory Items

Materials that children can manipulate with their hands are excellent to use during read alouds. Playdough is always fun for any age. Add loose parts like buttons and little figurines to keep your children occupied longer. Sensory bins are another choice. You can easily make them by putting beans, rice or something similar in a storage container. Small toys or measuring tools can be added for play.

Tip: You may like to see more ideas in my post about toddler activities.

Legos, if kids can play quietly with them, are another great activity to use during read alouds. I’ve let my boys build with them during this time, but only under the stipulation that they find what pieces they’ll want before I start. I don’t want to listen to them rifling through their Lego bins while I’m trying to read!

A final idea for using sensory materials during read alouds is to allow your child to play with fidget toys. So many options are out there, but I’d look for quiet ones. My son with ADHD especially likes the Tangle fidget toys.


Some final ideas for read aloud activities to keep your child focused are handwork activities such as embroidery, crochet or knitting. Now obviously these aren’t something you can just hand your kids to do. But if they already know how to do these activities, or are learning, read alouds are the perfect time to practice.

You can find a great article with video tutorials for teaching kids to knit at How Wee Learn. Personally, I plan to have my boys learn to embroider this year, which they can practice during our morning basket read aloud time.

Using read alouds during morning basket is a great way to connect with your children while improving their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. When you keep your kids’ hands busy with read aloud activities such as food, playdough or by drawing, you will help them focus their attention on you and the story instead of wrestling on the floor with a sibling. That’s a win for everyone!

You Need to Do This for Peaceful Read Alouds

Hi, I’m Christy!

I’m a homeschooling mom of 4, from preschool to high school. Homeschooling can be overwhelming, but I believe you can simplify your homeschool day so it’s manageable and enjoyable. When you join the Homeschooling in Progress community, you’ll learn ways to simplify your homeschool through emailed tips PLUS receive 5 Easy Steps to Create a Simple Routine for Productive Homeschool Days guide so you can start simplifying your homeschool today!

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