157

How to Stay Awake While Reading Aloud

How to Stay Awake While Reading Aloud - All About Reading

Does read-aloud time find you fighting fatigue? Being a parent is a tiring job, and by the time you sit down for read-aloud time, it’s all too easy to drift off to sleep. These mom-tested tips will help you stay awake while reading aloud.

My Story

My kids love to tell embarrassing stories about how I would fall asleep while reading aloud to them. I just couldn’t stay awake! My head would start to bob, I’d start to repeat sentences, and—most mortifying of all—I even talked in my sleep a few times!

All the late nights washing dishes and early mornings preparing lesson plans caught up with me.

It was inevitable.

I would begin to read and before long my eyelids would get heavy … I’d start feeling sleepy …

… very sleepy…

…and my kids would sneak off to play, giggling softly.

Tips for Staying Awake

Before you inadvertently drift off to dreamland and leave your kids with a half-finished story, try these tips for staying alert during reading time.

  1. Vary Your Location

    Your comfy sofa or reading chair might be just a little too comfy, so try reading somewhere else—at the kitchen table, perhaps, or on the front porch. The fresh air and sunshine can help keep you energized, and a slightly less comfortable chair will help keep you awake.

  2. Vary the Time of Day

    If your read-aloud time is scheduled for your kids’ bedtime, chances are that you’re already getting sleepy yourself. If possible, change your read-aloud time to earlier in the day—perhaps right after breakfast—when you are still fresh and wide awake.

  3. Distract Yourself

    Stay alert by sipping ice water as you read, or engage yourself in the story by developing and using different voices for the characters. Eat some apple slices or plain popcorn. Prepare yourself some hot tea—and take a sip each time you start to feel sleepy.

How to Stay Awake While Reading Aloud

Now back to my story …

Eventually, my struggle with sleepy read-aloud times made me realize that I was fighting fatigue in other areas of my life, too. A simple blood test revealed that I was anemic, and the subsequent iron supplementation helped a lot.

And so did getting to bed a bit earlier!

Do you have a favorite tip for staying awake while reading aloud? Please share, and I’ll add it to the reader’s tip box below!

Stay-Awake Tips Recommended by Our Readers

  • My 13 yr. old daughter likes to read to the younger ones and then I CAN doze on the couch while they read. It’s learning and practice for all of them. (Recommended by Angie via blog comment)
  • You might also want to consider blood sugar. One symptom of high blood sugar is being very sleepy. (Recommended by Kathryn via blog comment)
  • For me, falling asleep while reading to my kids at 9:00 a.m. was a warning sign that something was wrong. I was dealing with food allergies and adrenal fatigue which made me fall asleep 10 to 15 minutes after I sat down anywhere! (Recommended by Christine via blog comment)
  • Bright natural light definitely helps! (Recommended by Rebecca J. via blog comment)
  • I always read aloud RIGHT after breakfast which means three things: 1. My kids are full and happy 2. I’ve had my morning coffee 3. I have a second coffee in my free hand. (Recommended by Shelly via blog comment)
  • Read outside. (Recommended by Rachel A. via blog comment)
  • If I find myself getting tired, I walk around the room while I read. (Recommended by Esther via blog comment)
  • I try to remember to breathe! And breathe deeply. Sometimes we can read long passages and forget to breathe and that can add to our drowsiness. (Recommended by Lin via blog comment)
  • The BEST read-aloud times are when we pile up in the hammock! (Recommended by Melissa H. via blog comment)
  • I have found standing and moving and reading with dramatic expression to be helpful. (Recommended by Hollie via blog comment)
  • I drink ice water. It refreshes and energizes my body. (Recommended by Stephenia B. via blog comment
  • If I’m feeling sleepy or a few times when I wasn’t feeling well, I would start reading, then have an older child take over. (Recommended by Melissa via blog comment)
  • Sometimes, I just need some cold caffeine. Other times, I just need to stand up and shake off my exhaustion. (Recommended by Ann E. via blog comment)
  • I did just teach my five-year-old to elbow her dad when he falls asleep reading! :) (Recommended by Diana via blog comment)

Photo credit: Rachel Neumann

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

I ‘peg’ our chapter read aloud to after lunch (now- it is Wind in the Willows) and just read 1 or 2 Golden books before bedtime. There is NO way I could read a chapter of Wind in the Willows at 8 PM!

Laura

says:

I stand and start walking around and get the kids involved in the story by asking questions.

ChristineG

says:

This used to be me, but no more. After being a parent for 20 years, having many many little ones in that time, I finally faced the fact that I was going to bed too late. Moving up my own bedtime by an hour made a world of difference. I never fall asleep anymore during reading, morning, afternoon or evening. (Supplementing with Magnesium also made my sleeps much better.) Great post!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Great point, Christine! Sometimes I think we can all use more sleep.

Ali H.

says:

Thanks for these tips! Great advice and I have learned a few of my own over the years. We try to do character voices or accents. :)

Diana

says:

I get more sleep now that most of my kids are older and hardly ever fall asleep reading aloud. However, I did just teach my five-year-old to elbow her dad when he falls asleep reading!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Diana,
This gave me a huge smile!

Stacy

says:

Great ideas!

Brooke

says:

Thanks for all the great ideas!

Cheryl Escutia

says:

Thank you so much for this article! It is good to know that I am not the only one who gets sleepy while listening to my children read!

Melissa Hamilton

says:

Yes! This just happened to me yesterday! Mid-afternoon is just not a good time for me. It is a great time for my kiddos to take a break and do something quite, but unfortunately, read-a-loud time won’t be filling that time slot. Some of our best read-a-loud times are outside in the backyard. The kids quietly drive around toy tractors, or dig in the sand while I read. I am always amazed at how much of the story they pick up. The BEST read-a-loud times are when we pile up in the hammock!

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Oooh, the hammock sounds so cozy! Love these summer days. Enjoy reading outside!

Hollie

says:

Thank you! I thought I was the only goofy mom ever to have this issue! I have found standing and moving and reading with dramatic expression to be helpful.

Christina

says:

I loved this! Thanks!

Shelly Moorhouse

says:

haha! This is so me! I need to use some of these tips!

Jessica

says:

I have a hard time with this before nap time sometimes. :)

Merry at AALP

says: Customer Service

Understandable! (When my kids started outgrowing naps, I let them play quietly for a rest time–but they would say they didn’t need it, and I’d say, Mommy does!)

Deanna

says:

Good suggestions.

Amy Jo

says:

I could totally relate to this article! While I love to read to my kids I usually don’t realize how tired I am until I sit down to read or let them read to me. Reading outside (when weather permits) is always helpful to me.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Amy Jo,
Reading outside is great! I always feel very Miss Stacy like (the great teacher from Anne of Green Gables) when I read aloud outside.

Lindsay

says:

Take a deep breath in through your nose…no joke…works every time! I share this with my sleepy students all the time!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Interesting tip, I’ll have to try that with my kids too!

Rachel Kokes

says:

I don’t know that I would fall asleep-I think I am even more into the story than they are! :)

Merry at AALP

says:

LOL, sometimes that’s me too, Rachel! (I’m reading an Agatha Christie mystery to my teens & sometimes they are out & we don’t read–and I want to know what happens next!)

Brittany

says:

Haha I have so done this! Great tips though!

Ann E

says:

Sometimes, I just need some cold caffeine. Other times, I just need to stand up and shake off my exhaustion because reading to the kids is so relaxing that those late nights/early mornings with the kids catch up with me.
Thanks for the extra tips!

Eleasha Tate

says:

good tips

Lindsay

says:

I love the tips! We enjoy reading in different tones (grandma voice, baby voice, etc). I catch my kids doing it too😀

Merry at AALP

says:

I love it when kids learn to read in voices!

Chana

says:

My 3 yr old told his friends the other day, “sometimes my mommy needs a drink.” He meant, I need to get a cup of coffee while I’m reading to him so I don’t fall asleep! Thanks for the great tips!

Chana,
Oh, my! I got a good chuckle out this one. Yeah, this mommy needs a drink (of coffee) every morning. :D

Somer

says:

I literally laughed when I read the title of this article. ;) this is me every night as I try and read bedtime stories to my kids. I wake up 4 hours later curled up beside them in their beds with the book still open. Ha!
Great suggestions on how to (hopefully) read their favorites without putting myself to sleep as well!

Regina

says:

Thank you for the suggestions and the comments of what works from others in the additional posts. I had almost given up on reading a couple of books due to the stories simply relaxing me so much that I would simply nod off. I can only imagine what my daughter must of thought the few times this has happened. I will implement these suggestions and see what works the best for us. Thanks again

Leah

says:

The couch and a comfy chair are my culprits. So I do story time with the kids while we all sit in a circle on the living room floor. I miss the comfy factor of reading on the couch, but my kids appreciate actually finishing a good story. Funny voices and characters are a big plus because it also helps me to get excited about the story too instead of just reading in a boring monotone voice. Enjoy your a cup of coffee or tea and HAPPY READING!

Ellie

says:

Actually, I don’t give in to the nap when we do afternoon read aloud. When I start to nod, I have my kids set the timer for 5 minutes, they scoot to the bathroom, get a drink, etc. When the timer goes off, I pop back up, they come back to the couch, and we are ready to go again! it is AMAZING what a 5 minute power nap can do!

Julie

says:

Thank you for the suggestions!

Stacy Gray

says:

I have always struggled with the bedtime reading, so we ended up making a routine where I read at different times throughout the day, and Daddy does the bedtime stories. I’ve noticed the boys are more interested in books now too (since anything Daddy does is obviously cool!)

Stacy,
I never could get into bedtime reading. When my kids were little, we did naptime reading, and as they outgrew naps it just naturally become after lunch read aloud time. The time of day doesn’t matter. The reading does. :D
Thank you for sharing.

Kate

says:

I turn to books I’m interested in, reading earlier in the day, sipping my coffee, and audio books when I’m done in.

Danielle Ford

says:

Great Tips!!!

Leave a Comment