Ideas to Keep Kids Reading Even When You’re On the Go

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You’re a busy family, driving to sports, spending time with friends and family, and so forth. But how do you encourage children to read when you’re on the go in the car, at brother’s basketball game, or waiting for the doctor . . . ?

Here are some ideas you might try.

(If you already have tried these, which are your favorites? Why?

Ideas to Keep Kids Reading on the Go

reading on the go

1. Audiobooks

We get carsick so we can’t read in the car. That’s the big reason we love audiobooks for the car. But they also help us get our reading in — and we love stories, how about you?

You can find good books on Audible, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or borrow them (which is much cheaper!) from your library using Overdrive.

Audiobooks are also great for quiet time, sick days, or when an adult doesn’t have time to read aloud to a child right this second.

Also, don’t forget to get kid-friendly headphones with volume control!

Need good audiobook recommendations?

2. Reading & Book Apps

Grownups, add a reading or book app to your phone or iPad.

Try a learn to read app for your younger kids who are learning to read and practicing reading skills.

Or, download an interactive storybook app. You’ll find many engaging books for ages 2 – 5 as well as for beginning readers ages 5 – 8.

Older kids can download a Kindle app or get their own Kindle for eBooks which I’ll discuss below.

3. Street Signs

reading on the go

My younger beginning reader was really into reading all the signs on the street — especially speed limit signs. Which totally cramped my style because her sister, who could see onto the dashboard, liked to announce my speed limit, do some mental math, and tell me how much I was speeding. Grrrreat. Accountability. 🙂

But in all honesty, reading and math are great things to be doing in the car.

Encouraging reading of print on street and building signs is a great way to practice decoding new words and reading fluency.

(And yes, when JJ was six, she yelled out every single time we passed the Lifetime Health Club– “LIFETIME” –when she saw the sign. And then her older sister yelled at her to stop reading out loud and whined, “Mom, why does she say it every time we drive by?” Every. Single. Time. It was REALLY fun.)

See how fun reading can be, kids?

4. Books

reading on the go

Bring a bag of favorite picture books or chapter books with you everywhere.

Don’t forget to bring a back-up chapter book for your child AND one for yourself, too.

5. eBooks (Electronic Books) on Kindle or the Kindle App

Parents worry that eBooks will decrease a child’s physical book reading. Research shows that this is more of a concern for kids under three than it is with kids four and up.

In fact, there is growing research showing a positive benefit for children with ADHD reading eBooks.

My kids since elementary school have loved technology so much that reading on their own Kindles made books even more enticing. (They have always read both eBooks and print books.)

Eventually, they learned how to easily put favorite books on hold and download them from the library. Empowering! Access!

Sometimes it’s nice to have the flexibility of both ebooks and print book options.

Speaking of eBooks, have you seen the Epic selection of eBooks? Check them out — most teachers rave at how helpful this website is for their classrooms and for students at home.

6. Playaways

reading on the go

Also at the library and for sale, these little devices have one book on each like The Golden Compass shown above. The disadvantage is it only holds one book so you can’t load it up with titles like you can on your phone.

What are your favorite ideas?

6 ideas for reading on the go

Also Read:

Favorite Audiobooks for Kids
best audiobooks for families with kids

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  1. Environmental print is so important in my teaching. My students come from low-income families and many don’t have the money for technology (most don’t have internet or cable). So I encourage my students to read all around them. Also, the old-fashioned, turn-the-page, hold-in-your-hand book is high priority in my class. I encourage students to borrow as many books as they want from our classroom library that is filled with “much loved” books that have been donated from many families.

  2. We love audio books in the car. When my daughter was two years old, I remember feeling a “new parent” sense of accomplishment when we made a hour and half trip in the car without the DVD player.

    I have never used a Playaways but I saw they were available at our library. I am going to have to check them out.

    One last thing, one of first words my daughter read was the word “pizza” on a sign! Signs are awesome! Great ideas!

  3. My iPhone is loaded up with ebook apps and I do find that I use them to kill a ten minute chunk of time while waiting at a pick up or whatever with my 6-year-old. Our favorite are the ones by Dr. Seuss because the stories are, of course, wonderful but the app is also interactive.

    I posted on Dr. Seuss ebook apps a lot (it’s actually quite embarrassing) here:

  4. I love your example of when reading backfires on Mom. We have a backseat driver in our house, too! Catherine loves audio books, particularly folktales; and has asked to take some of those CDs even on short trips. We have not yet tried Playaways … I think that’s next.

  5. Great ideas. I wish my kiddos liked audio books for longer car rides, but they don’t. At least they are able to read in the car without getting sick!