Man and young girl in living room reading book and smilingWhen you think of reading with your child, what image does it evoke? Do you picture yourself rocking your toddler or preschooler and reading a book to them while pointing out all of the interesting pictures? Most of us do a pretty good job of reading to our very young children. After all, they cannot read for themselves yet. But why would you read to or with your older child? You may be surprised at the many benefits that come with sharing a book with your independent reader.

What Does it Look Like?
OK, perhaps you are having trouble envisioning your lanky 14-year-old son climbing up in your lap and handing you a book! Reading with your older kids will not look exactly the same as reading with your younger children, but it can be every bit as rewarding. There are several different ways that you can read with your older child.

The first way is to read aloud to them. The times that I have read aloud to my older children have primarily been in the evenings after dinner. Our whole family has shared several books this way and the kids are usually excited to pick up where the story left off the previous night.

I have also gone through a book or two with my teenage daughter reading aloud to me while I cooked supper. I think she really enjoyed being the one to read out loud and I was kept company while preparing the meal!

The final way I have read with my independent readers is to read the same book they are reading but separately. I read through the Hunger Game series with my oldest daughter in this way and I also read Red Wall with my youngest daughter. We enjoyed chatting with each other about what part of the book we had gotten to and had several, “Can you believe that happened?!” moments.

What Are the Benefits?
The benefits of reading with your older child are enumerable. Anytime we share a common activity with our children we are forming a bond. The shared experience of enjoying a book with our children helps to further strengthen our connection with them. I don’t know about you, but the older my kids get, the less time they have to spend with me. Between school, homework, band, and other extracurricular activities, my time with them seems to dwindle a little each year. Taking time to read together is time well invested in your relationship.

Another benefit of reading with older kids is that it generates great discussion! Reading Speak provided a good opportunity to have several serious discussions with my 15-year-old daughter; the most important being that she can tell me anything. Finally, when I read to/with my independent readers, I know what they are reading. If I’m unsure if a book is really age appropriate for my child, sometimes I will read part or all of it before giving them the green light to read it for themselves. If I let them go ahead and read it, I can provide the necessary parental guidance.

Red Apple Reading hopes you will share a book with your older child soon. Remember, before you know it they will be grown and out of the house. Take advantage of every opportunity you have now to connect with them!