This article was originally posted on the Book Hooks blog. We encourage you to check out Lara Aston’s other articles and resources available at

You’ve chosen the book. You have visions of snuggling on the couch and sharing a great adventure with your young children. You know it is going to be a great bonding experience….

Then reality sinks in. Johnny can’t get comfortable. Suzie hangs off the upside down. Molly complains about Johnny touching her. The dog is barking. The phone is ringing. You made it through one paragraph.

Reading aloud to older children opens a world of wonder, rich vocabulary, and varied language patterns. Research shows that silent readers often skip small words and skim parts of books. When a child hears the rich language of a well-written book read aloud, words are internalized and verbal skills are stretched. However, without a good plan in place, reading aloud can feel more like disaster than opportunity.

Children enjoy stories. They enjoy moving. And they enjoy creating. Children often dislike sitting still. Their minds wander and boredom sets in. So instead of forcing sedentary listening, engage your young listeners with the things they enjoy. Stories, moving, and creating. A couple of weeks ago, I encouraged you to take your reading outdoors. Another way to engage restless listeners is to provide coloring materials for them to use as you all gather around the table for a story.

Coloring has been a part of childhood since Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith produced their first box of 8 crayons for a nickel. Over the years crayons became a staple in households and classrooms alike. Nowadays coloring books abound for children and adults about all kinds of subjects. Coloring builds motor skills and creativity, while also calming and relaxing the participant.

Fill a coloring basket with markers, gel pens, crayons, colored pencils. Coloring books, blank paper, and drawing books. My own children loved Draw Write Now books, which teach simple steps to draw many different animals, people, and places. They loved themed coloring books with period clothing, battle scenes, or animal habitats. Every day after lunch, they took out their coloring supplies, gathered around our table, and listened to a novel while they colored. Having special materials set aside just for read aloud time enhances their appeal.

I recently discovered Cherry Creek Lane products— large coloring pages to fill hours of time. These giant coloring pages can be family projects, or they can be individual masterpieces! Because the pictures are so large, whole bodies can lean over the pages. Large arm movements can be used to fill spaces with color. Opportunities to try different art mediums (crayons, markers, pencils, paint) on the same picture abound. Cherry Creek Lane themes include maps, animals, oceans, superheroes, space, holidays, seasons, sports and others. I especially like their maps! You can follow a theme that lines up with your book and learning objectives, or you can follow a theme for enjoyment. I am not endorsing the religious pages, but the other themes will provide hours of entertainment and focus while you read great books!

Sitting is not required. Standing and coloring–perfectly acceptable. Perched on an exercise ball while filling a masterpiece–absolutely okay. Many children learn and comprehend much better when their bodies can engage and move while listening. My only rule is that my students listen to what I read. Listening is not hard to enforce because they are genuinely interested in the book I read and now have an outlet for the energy that continually pulses through them! I stop occasionally to ask, “What do you think will happen next?” or “How do you think he feels?” Just often enough for accountability and focus, but not so often to resemble a drill session.

So the next time you have a book in hand, shift a bit, and provide quiet and engaging ways for your children to move their bodies while you read. Explore Cherry Creek Lane products. Give your dog a treat. And turn off your cell phone. You might even try reading The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow.

Photo by Lucas Alexander on Unsplash

Lara Aston, a passionate educator with 35 years of multi-age experience in public, private, online, and homeschool settings, always dreamed of opening her own school. After suddenly becoming a widow in 2022 and facing an empty nest alone, God graciously and faithfully walked her through the doors of opening The Book Hooks Schoolhouse in Houston, TX in the fall of 2023. She currently serves nine 6th to 8th grade students in a hybrid microschool environment, with plans to expand the grades offered for the 2024-2025 school year. The Book Hooks Schoolhouse strives to develop lifelong learners with a passion for Christ, exploration, and conversation. Mrs. Aston uses innovative teaching strategies and individualized assignments to help each student thrive and feel a sense of belonging to a vibrant learning community.