I loved reading aloud to my children when they were growing up. To curl up with a book and watch their inquisitive faces as I shared a story with them was such a joy. I’m sure you have that same warm, contented feeling when you read to your kids, too.
I have to say that when my kids got older and started reading on their own it was both a proud and sad time. It was wonderful seeing them progress onto chapter books, relying less on me for reading duties and happily losing themselves in a book on their own. But once they had become independent readers, I knew my time as Chief Storyteller was over. Or so I thought.
The other day I met a mum who is still reading aloud to her 13-year-old. How brilliant is that? She and her son share an interest in history and when he started reading a history book that had been recommended by his teacher he suggested his mum read it as well. So she said ‘Well maybe we could read it together.’
You’d think that hanging out with his mum reading would be the last thing a young teen would want to do but her son thought it was a great idea. So in the evening, before his bedtime, they sit on the sofa taking it in turns to read the book out loud to one another. And they both love it.
A few years ago, research by the children’s publisher, Scholastic, found that three-quarters of parents were reading aloud to their kids when they were aged 5 or under, but that number tailed off as kids grew older. Only 20% of the parents surveyed read to their 9-11 year olds. What’s really sad is that around one-third of those older children said they’d wanted their parents to continue reading to them.
When your child starts growing up you assume there are some ‘uncool’ things they won’t want to do anymore. But the reality can be so different. The mum I met likens reading a book with her son to watching a TV documentary together. They can discuss the subject, ask each other questions and enjoy the experience of learning together. She really loves that they can share their curiosity about the world through their love of reading.
She says that reading aloud together is a natural activity for the two of them and that it’s lovely spending quality time with her son – which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy to achieve with a teen! Of course not every teenager wants to read with their parents – but it might just be that yours does. You never know until you ask… so I’m going to wrestle the Xbox away from my 14-year-old and find out…