Have you stopped reading with your kids? The older ones, I mean, the ones who can read on their own.
I know that I began to read less and less with mine once they could read, but sharing books is too much fun to stop!
Reading with your kids can be more than just reading to them.
Try these four simple things to continue enjoying books with your kids even when they’re teenagers.
Some books have caught on with all of us, but we’ve read them separately. Once we’ve all read a book, we can discuss pressing questions like how to defeat an impossibly big, strong, and magical dragon. It’s not for school, it’s because it’s so much fun to find other people who are enjoying the same thing.
The only problem? Avoiding spoilers! My daughter finished the last book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series before I did, and I’d told her that she absolutely MUST NOT give anything away. She was in danger of exploding if she had to wait long to talk about it, so I hurried up my reading. (I finished it, she did not spontaneously combust, and all was well.)
It has been so, so hard to wait until my kids have been ready for favorite books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s like taking them to a favorite summer vacation spot.
After my daughter read Little Women, the PBS movie came out. We joined my mom and one of my sisters to watch and compare it to the book. Over two sessions, we laughed, called out, “Don’t do it, Amy!” and teared up.
Three generations of my family shared a wonderful experience. All because of a book!
I let my daughter watch the PBS Anne of Green Gables movie before she read the book. Since she knew the basic plot and characters, she was primed to enjoy the book and wasn’t thrown by Anne’s amazing vocabulary.
Do you have a favorite interest, like hiking, engineering, or New Mexico history? Find books about it and use those books to engage your children in that interest.
We don’t love all the same books. (Just ask my son about Little Women.) We have had some good discussions about the reasons, though.
Reading . . . Audiobooks?
Up until the last year, I saved audiobooks for the car. (Mr. Popper’s Penguins was our favorite.) I like reading to my kids. I was also afraid that my kids wouldn’t develop their reading abilities as much if they listened to a lot of audiobooks.
I began using audiobooks at home when I had colds and allergies, so we could keep going in chapter books, and my daughter got hooked. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. When I spoke with Sarah Mackenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, she said “there is a definite benefit to having them hear the grammatically correct and sophisticated language through their ear.” (Click here for more from the interview.)
I’m still experimenting with ways to preserve time for plain old reading, like prohibiting headphones or no audiobooks at night. I’ve had to pry headphones off a sleeping child’s head.
I listen to audiobooks when I’m alone in the car or while I exercise at home. It helps me keep up with the books my kids are reading. I have more time in the car than I do reading. The most surprising thing to me has been just how much fun some of the audiobooks are, like the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood.
Reading Out Loud
That brings me to a fourth way to share books with your older kids. After listening to the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, I tried reading out loud to my older kids again. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it took a while for us to get used to doing it regularly. It helped that I let them have a piece of chocolate while I read. It took two tries to find a book we all liked (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.)
The emotional atmosphere between the three of us became more friendly, and not just while we were reading.
When we travel or are between book series, it’s been easy to skip a reading session, but I’m trying to keep it up. (Sarah Mackenzie talked to the Albuquerque Moms Blog about the benefits of reading aloud here.)
Whether you read with your older kids or to them, enjoy sharing books together!