Jennifer Donovan here… Do you read aloud with your kids? How about with your tweens?
My kids are growing up. I just spent the weekend away with my daughter confirming her decision to attend University of Michigan next year, far away from our home in Texas.
My son just started middle school this year, so he’ll be around for the next six years, but as kids move into adolescence — at least my kids — they naturally crave more time alone or with friends.
I have always enjoyed reading with my kids, either reading a book they enjoyed and recommended to me (or passing a book I’ve reviewed over to them), but the experience is taken to a whole new level when we are actually reading side by side, together.
I get to hear what makes them laugh, answer any questions they might have, or even ask one of my own, like “How would you feel if that happened to you?” Stories are great conversation starters.
It was something I did regularly with my daughter through her late-elementary and middle school years, and it hit me a couple of years ago that Kyle and I had not been taking advantage of that tradition. I’ve rectified that.
When I recently saw that sequels to two books we had enjoyed had been published, I bought them right away. Kyle was already reading a book, but he sometimes keeps separate books for home and school. Since I knew I’d want to read both of these books too, I asked him if he’d like to read one of them aloud with me, and he did.
Is it easy?
It really isn’t. Yes, I can read, with expression, even! That is easy enough, but reading aloud for 20 minutes at the end of the day when I’m tired and sometimes cranky is not always easy.
Some parents alternate reading aloud with their child, and my daughter was fairly willing to do this — sometimes while I was cooking dinner or folding laundry — but my son is not.
It isn’t always easy to find the time. Evenings are when my son prefers this habit, and bedtime stories are common, so snuggling up in bed or on the couch is natural, even if your child is twelve and not two.
My daughter and I tended to find other times, snatching ten minutes while she was eating breakfast before school, but find what works for you.
Want to save your voice? Try listening to an audiobook as a family. That way, someone doesn’t have to have his or her nose stuck in a book. Road trips are great for this (though it’s also a wonderful time to read aloud together), as well as nights sitting around doing a puzzle or while making dinner.
I’m amazed that he’ll sit and listen, asking for one more chapter. Yes, sometimes he multi-tasks and plays a mindless game on his tablet, but oftentimes he simply sits beside his dog, getting comfort from her and from the sound of his mother’s voice.
It’s an important forced time-out and a small way that I can help time slow down.
I’m thankful that I’ve passed my love of reading down to my kids. I feel quite certain that we’ll be passing books back and forth for many years to come, but reading aloud is a habit that I hope we can hold on to for several more years.