When my kids were little, I read to them all the time - board books, Amelia Bedelia, Froggy, Dr. Seuss, everything - and our reading sessions are some of my, and their, favorite childhood memories. Once my kids hit elementary school, though, they read more on their own - and by fourth or fifth grade, I was barely reading to them at all. They were accomplished and avid readers, which made me happy - but I definitely missed sharing books together as we had when they were small.
Something awesome happened when my son hit middle school, however, and it continues to this day. He came across my collection of dog-eared paperback favorites - all the books I had read and loved as a child - and pulled out The Iceberg and Its Shadow.
"What's this about?" he asked, turning it over to check out the back cover.
"It's about a girl who's friends with a bully," I said carefully, knowing that one of his new friends had been bullied, "and she has to decide what kind of person she's going to be.
"I loved it when I was your age," I added. "I'd love to read it again. Want me to read it to you?"
My son looked at me and handed me the book. "Sure."
So after several years, our reading sessions started up again. And it's been amazing. Since that day, we've read all kinds of books together - everything from The Glass Castle to The Martian Chronicles - and we've just started The Outsiders. We don't read together every day - sometimes weeks will go by between books - but our shared reading has become really special to both of us. It's not always easy for me to find ways to connect with my now-teenage son; but choosing books and reading them together not only keeps us close but also sparks all kinds of important discussions that I'm not sure we'd have had otherwise.