Staying connected with your kids as they become teens is a challenge. While we encourage their growing independence, it can be difficult to maintain as close a bond as the one we had when they were younger.
Reading to my kids was part of our daily routine when they were pre-school and elementary-age. As my daughters got older and grew out of bedtime stories, I tried to stay connected by reading along with them.
Summer is a great time to stay connected through reading. Here are a few ideas that worked well for us:
Design a summer reading program: Public libraries in my area offer summer reading programs for all ages. Kids fill out a reading log and discuss the books they’ve read with volunteers. As my kids got older (and their summers got busier) going to the library every week didn’t always fit into our schedule. So we put together our own reading program at home. We made a chart with a goal of how many books we wanted to read each summer. Then we’d keep track of the books we read. I participated and listed all the books I read too.
Read your child’s school-assigned books: When my girls get their school’s summer reading assignments, I make it a point to read those books too. Sometimes I get to re-read the classics (this summer includes The Great Gatsby); other times it’s a challenge for me to get through a book I don’t necessarily enjoy. But that helps my kids too: we both can commiserate about the sections in a book we do not like!
Since most teachers test on comprehension the first week of school, I’ve found that it’s very helpful when I also read the books and then we discuss them. That helps with any challenges in reading comprehension and I definitely stay connected with my kids in the process.
Watch the movie that goes along with the book: Sometimes movies do not live up to expectations (and we’ve been disappointed quite a few times!) but watching the movie can also help your child with comprehension. When one of my daughters had to read Pride and Prejudice, she struggled with the dialog and storyline, but watching the movie afterward cleared up a lot of the questions she had. Family movie time is great quality time too!
Designate family reading time: Relaxed, unstructured days are what my kids enjoy about summer, but that can make staying on track with required reading a challenge. We would designate a “family” reading time where we could all sit together in the same room and read our books. Sometimes we don’t need to be talking with a child to stay connected!
Read for fun: I have some favorite children’s books from reading to my kids years ago. Now I’ve discovered some new favorites in the books my teens read for fun. No, I haven’t read the Harry Potter books, but I am a fan of the Twilight series and have enjoyed lots of other books I might never have picked up if it weren’t for my kids.
Get creative when reading isn’t so fun: Each child is different when it comes to reading. For some, reading is not always “fun”. One of my daughters did not like to read when she was younger, but she loved comic books. So that’s how we encouraged her to stick with a reading program – one summer all she read were comic books. Now I’m struggling to keep up with her this summer as we read a series together and she finishes the books faster than me!
Whatever works best with your family and schedule, reading with your kids is a great way to stay connected and spend quality time together!
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
Richard Steele, Tatler, 1710
“The more you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
- Dr. Seuss