My dad died a long time ago, long before I had children. Yet, among other things, we are still bound by a book. It’s a hardcover edition of Mark Twain’s short stories. My dad bought it when I was a toddler and gave it to me the night before I got married, telling me that Twain’s humor and wisdom would come in handy in the years ahead. It did, and it still does.
When you share a book with someone it’s as if you’re saying “I value what’s in this book enough to want to share it with you because I value you too.” Simple sentiments become more powerful when accompanied by a book.
Parents of small children know how important “book/cuddle time” is to raising a reader and making essential connections. Parents of preteens and teens can continue to build a special closeness through books:
• Read books that you can both enjoy and then talk about them later (e.g., obvious – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; not-so-obvious The Help by Kathryn Stockett)
• Share a genre — humor, mystery, romance, travel, horror — when it may not be appropriate to share the same book. Conversations will morph as your child to “grows into” your reading level.
• Look for authors with books that are “crossover” titles or that have been made into movies you can watch after reading the book (e.g., The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford)
• Some authors may surprise you. If you’re reading a James Bond story by Ian Fleming maybe Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang – also written by Fleming – will appeal to your son or daughter.
• Look for authors that write specifically for people of all ages. Introduce books by those authors into your child’s early years and let them grow along with the author’s books (e.g., Jacqueline Woodson and Patricia McKissack offer picture books through young adult literature. Ridley Pearson and Judy Blume have written books for readers of all ages.)
• Read non-fiction books about things of interest to both of you. (Books about sports figures are favorites in our house along with books about musicians, artists, world history, poetry and space exploration.)
• Ask your son or daughter pick a book for you to read. (My 13-year old made me a fan of Edgar Allan Poe.)
• Attend author visits together at your local library or bookstore.
Yesterday, my son asked, “Mom, if you were an author, which one would you want to be?” That really got me thinking. And it got us talking.
What books have made a difference to you as a child? As a parent? What tips can you offer to strengthen a parent-child “book link” ?
Expert Mommy, Diane Asyre is a professional writer and owns Asyre Communications.