PARENTHOOD: Connect with your Child by Having an "At Home" Book Club!
It's no secret that reading to and with your child reaps many benefits. I am an avid reader, and wanted my daughter to realize the magic of books. We read books to her from the first day home from the hospital and every day since. It took her until 2nd grade to discover the joy of independent reading, we just had to find the books that she liked versus what I would pick for her. This was an interesting switch for me, because up until that point, I was reading to her or we were taking turns alternating pages as she increased her reading skills. Once she began independently reading, it freed me up but I was also one step removed from what she was reading, and what was interesting her. If she had story questions or struggled over pronunciation over a word, I did not know unless she spoke up. She wanted to read on her own, and this is an important step in the development of your child.
But I discovered something very magical over this Christmas break. It has made such an impact in my relationship with my daughter I had to share it. My daughter recently discovered the BONE graphic novels. I had no idea what they were about. They looked interesting, reminiscent of the Gaiman Sandman series from the late 80's, but geared to a younger crowd. My daughter was plowing through these books, and she kept telling me that she thought I would like them. I told her that I liked grown up books. She kept urging me to at least read BONE book 1. She said it would be great because we could talk about them. I thought this was very wise for my 8 year old, so I told her when I was done with the book I was reading, she could lend me her BONE book 1 and I would give it a try. I had to ask myself, why did I find it strange to read grade school books, anyway? Heck, I read Harry Potter?
So while she read her BONE books, I snuggled up with her at bedtime and read my BONE book she lent me. Next thing I knew, every night of break, we were turning off the TV early and going upstairs to read. During this time, she would ask me if I had gotten to certain parts? What I thought about this character? or read me funny excerpt from her book. She would talk about aspects of the stories at dinner, and because now I knew the stories, we could talk and connect over them. It has been like our very own Mommy/Daughter book club! She even told me tonight that she now looks forward to bedtime because of our shared reading time and discussion, that bedtime is a lot more fun. I am enjoying the richer connection I am having with my daughter.
I think that as children become more independent, particularly even in their teen years, it is harder and harder to find ways to connect with them. Sharing books with them might be a way to answer questions about maybe difficult topics or scenarios, and stay abreast on what they are being exposed to and what interests them. My sister 'n law recently began reading the Twilight books because her 12 year old was reading them. They were able to discuss questions about sexuality and relationships in the safety of the book's plot line and characters. Because my sister n' law made an effort to take on something that her daughter was interested in and get into it as well gave her daughter a feeling of acceptance, love and comfort...all important things for a tween girl.
I always expected to someday share book recos with my daughter, I just never dreamed it would happen in 3rd grade. But I opened my mind up to it, and I am delightfully surprised at the results. I can only hope that our Mommy/Daughter book club will continue for a long time to come...but she's gonna have to have an open mind to historical fiction....eventually!