Do you remember snuggling in with your little one and reading a book? It probably started with Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss, leading into the years of The Magic Tree House, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Charlotte’s Web, and then Harry Potter. Whether it was part of a bedtime ritual or just cozy times on the couch, those years are precious and can bring a sentimental tear to your eye when your little ones are now tweens or teenagers with places to go, and can drive themselves there.
Well, I am here to tell you that those days don’t have to be over! I continue to read to my kids on road trips, camping trips, curled up on the couch, before bed, or even on a lazy Sunday afternoon. They still ask for “just one more chapter pleeeeeeease?” If you’re willing to find out what kinds of stories will grab your tween or teen's attention, you can continue to indulge yourself and your kids in the joy of reading aloud.
Where to start? Try the Heroes of Olympus series, opens a new window by Rick Riordan, the Maze Runner series, opens a new window by James Dashner, and the Hunger Games series, opens a new window by Suzanne Collins.
These books are usually character driven with a fast paced plot. There are hysterically funny stories and some are heartbreaking tear-jerkers, like The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Many of them cycle between those extremes. They can be quirky, and have endearingly awkward teenage moments, or they can deal with some darker themes that teens struggle with. Many of them will have some mild and age-appropriate romance in them that is typically very sweet.
Whether you do the research yourself, or talk to the YA librarians at your library who will positively GEEK OUT over YA fiction and send you home with a long list of titles, this is an activity that brings families together and builds strong relationships. The great thing about doing this with tweens and teens is the discussion afterwards. They make connections in such fantastic and creative ways! You end up learning all about what’s important to them and what’s going on in their lives, without ever having to dig or “be nosy.” They will feel like you value their opinions and beliefs, and you will feel like you’ve got this parenting thing down… at least for a little while.
Here are some more favorites:
Little Brother (book 1 of 2), by Cory Doctorow (we don't have the print version, but give your voice a break and share the audiobook as a family, instead!)
The Uglies series, opens a new window, by Scott Westerfeld
Rook, by Sharon Cameron (A new take on The Scarlet Pimpernel)
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz
Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
Feed, by M. T. Anderson
And last but not least, the Monument 14 series, opens a new window, by Emmy Laybourne.