We are great advocates for reading together with our children, regardless of how young or old they are or how confident they are reading independently. We are all well aware of the benefits of reading aloud with young children, emerging and reluctant readers. But how many of us continue to read with our children once they have grown into confident independent readers? We all read with our four-year olds. Why not with our fourteen-year olds?
When we were first exploring the concept for our business, we came across an article in The Washington Post by Deb Werrlein, a freelance writer and former adjunct professor of English, which really inspired us. Werrlein wrote that she still reads aloud with her eighteen-year old son and fourteen-year old daughter. She described how reading aloud together gives them ‘rare quiet time spent together and the opportunity to connect’, but also that reading together ‘has spurred lively discussions about war, pride, racism, greed, capitalism, and addiction’.
As keen bookclubbers ourselves, we are well aware of the joy and benefits of reading as a social activity. Once a month we gather around someone’s kitchen table to eat, drink and discuss a book that we have all read. It’s estimated that there are at least 50,000 book clubs in the UK, so we’re not alone! By sharing and talking about the books we’ve read, we are able to explore what they mean to us and how they relate to our own lives.
There are no rules in book club and no right or wrong answers – which is a great principle to apply to the books we share with our children. Indeed, books allow our children to explore, question and work things out for themselves. Reading together and talking about what we’ve read can afford both parents and children the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a ‘safe’ setting.
Each month we include a set of book club-style questions in the packs we send along with our book selections. We hope these provide families with a great starting point for their own book club-style discussions and that some of our subscribers might even be inspired to get together with a group of friends and start their own book clubs. But at the very least we believe we should continue reading aloud with our children for as long as they will let us.