If you are reading this, you are probably already a fully-fledged advocate of supporting young children to read. You already know the importance of nurturing pleasurable reading experiences and how to grow the love that will make them life-long readaholics. You teach them, and read with them, and they grow up and go on to read alone.
But now I’m going to let you into a secret. When that joint reading ends, sharing books gets even better.
As a parent of three boys I still read with the youngest, but whilst the activity is fun, some of his choices would not be mine. Most of the books are, quite rightly, pretty straightforward. But my teenagers now read Orwell and Philip K Dick. We don’t read together, but we get to talk about books, sharing ideas and opinions about various characters and their actions, plots and endings. We can debate the merits (or otherwise) of the adaptation, Blade Runner versus the book, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and refer to Asimov’s three laws of robotics when talking about the future of Artificial Intelligence.
Even better, they introduce me to fresh material and take me out of my reading rut. I seriously doubt whether I would have read MAUS without their recommendation, which has now lead me to other similar books.
Their book journey leads me back with nostalgia to read fiction of my past (To Kill a Mocking Bird and 1984) and broadens my reading, when I pick up and inevitably start reading their books from their home on the floor.
Incidentally if dropped clothes are in the floordrobe are discarded books on the floorcase?
At a time when finding common ground with your teenage children can be more difficult, books are not just important for their education, but for enriching family life too. They facilitate sophisticated, adult discussion; they are a common bond and shared love. In our house, at least, books are more than words, stronger than paper. For us books build bridges.