Recently, I was talking with someone who said that although she tries to read to her children for at least 20 minutes a day, her children will not sit still long enough to hear a book. They'll jump up and run around and get distracted, or fight over who is going to sit on her lap.
My advice was that instead of sitting on a couch to read a book, they pull up a chair to the kitchen table. And when their children are sitting down to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, they read to them.
Granted, there are a lot of times I will sit down on the couch and cuddle up with one or two children and read them a story. But it usually happens, that once I settle in to a comfortable position with a book in my hands and children on my lap, in a matter of seconds, I'll fall sound asleep and start snoring. It's the craziest phenomenon.
So we opt to read around the table. We don't read during every meal, but at least once a day, typically during lunch, each of the children will select a book. We also use meal time to review flash cards, the daily calendar, or any other activity that requires the children to sit still. Hence we've discovered that aside from preventing the overcrowding lap issue, and story time induced narcolepsy, the Numero Uno advantage of reading to our children during meal time is that while we have their rapt attention, they finish whatever is on their plate.
Provided it isn't broccoli. Or cabbage. Or any kind of vegetable except sweet potatoes or carrots, preferably in the form of a pie or cake.
But you'd be amazed at the nutritious things children will eat, when they are distracted by a story and content to sit in front of their plate for 30 minutes or more. I've currently got my kids hooked on almonds. And salmon. And although they have never much cared for string cheese, when I peel the cheese so it looks like worms, and then read them a story about a mama bird feeding her baby birds, they'll chomp them right down.
Although strangers might shoot me funny looks whenever we're out and they overhear me telling my children to finish eating their worms, I silently applaud myself for using their highly creative imaginations to my advantage.