Reading Aloud With Teens

For the past year there has been a much chatter over reading aloud with your kids. Thanks to Sarah and her Read Aloud Revival, phrases like ‘building a family culture with books,’ ‘a story-formed life,’ and ‘a holy imagination’ have become part of how we talk. But the revival towards reading aloud to our children deals mostly with reading to younger children. You hear story after story about parents reading to their younger children (11 and younger) but very few testimonies can be found of parents reading to their teenagers. Reading to teens is just not as common. This makes me sad.

I can see how it happens, though. Everyone starts to get their own lives with jobs, interests, activities, etc. and the time to sit with your family to enjoy a good book, well, it just isn’t there any more. Also, we always read our family book first thing in the morning but I found earlier in the school year that, with the increase of school work that the teen years bring, the kids wanted to forgo the family reading to get started with their school work.

Again, this makes me sad.

But something happened a few weeks ago that has revived our family read aloud.

Tessa asked for me to read a mystery book to her. We have been reading Agatha Christie books–just me and her– but I needed a break. I decided to start her on Flavia De Luce books by Alan Bradley. Flavia is a precocious 11 yr. old chemist who happens to solve mysteries. Flavia is simply delightful. Not very often have I come upon a book series in which I am still eager to read the books past the third installment but there are 7 books in the Flavia series (so far) and I have read–and thoroughly enjoyed–all 7. These books are not children’s books but I thought that Tessa could handle them (although I don’t think we will be reading the second book as that one creeped me out a bit.) When I mentioned to Tessa that we start the first book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Emma asked if she could join in. I decided that this would be a good one for the whole family. Caleb doesn’t really listen to read alouds anyway; he becomes engrossed with other things while I read so it wouldn’t matter to him anyway.

Once we started with the story it didn’t take us long to finish it. Everyone was hooked, even Caleb. I even saw him stop what he was doing so he could listen to the ending. There will definitely be another Flavia read aloud.

This reading, though, put a spark back into our family read alouds. The kids asked if they could take turns in picking out our future read alouds (can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus?) this was something that we used to do when they were younger. My heart leaped when I heard titles being called out for their siblings to pick. Caleb’s choice will be read next; it is Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, Emma has picked To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Less (be still my heart. I have waited 15 years to read this to my kids) and, of course, Tessa wants to read the third Flavia book when it is her turn.

Read alouds are alive and well yet again in our family. Wahoo for us!

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