Connecting with Our Kids through Literature

My 8-year old son loves Minecraft and other video/computer games. He also enjoys science and math. I like science, not really math, and my idea of a fun computer game is the old Carmen Sandiego game series from the ’90s (and seriously, why has no one made an awesome Carmen app?) or the Nancy Drew computer games that I have absolutely no time to play. I’m not counting on us growing more alike over time–probably the opposite.

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Here is how that thought makes me feel–the face in the middle

And that’s why I find our shared time over texts* to be so special and important. No matter what widely different interests we have, we like curling up in a chair and sharing a good book. I love that and will hold onto it as long as possible.

Connecting over a text can happen in many different ways. Here are some examples from our house.

  1. Read alouds. Read alouds are part of our kids’ bedtime routines–to the extent that they hardly believe they can go to sleep without it. Some nights, when we’re tired and busy and it’s late, we might wish they weren’t quite so dependent on it. But then I’m grateful that reading a book with a parent is, to them, worth fighting for (literally).
  2. Sharing from personal independent reading. If I read a funny comic strip I think the kids will like, I’ll call them over and we’ll read it together. When Seth read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last week, he read aloud to me a few passages he found particularly funny or creepy. Talking about and sharing text with each other is a wonderful natural response that should be fostered and modeled for our kids.

    As he was beginning Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (of course I had to photograph this rite of passage)
    As he was beginning Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (of course I had to photograph this rite of passage)
  3. Lunchbox messages. This is similar to #2. Some people send a little note or Bible verse in their kids’ lunchboxes at school. Did you ever think of this as connecting with your child over text? When Seth started kindergarten, I started cutting out funny/cute comics from the newspaper and sending one each day in his lunch. Occasionally I write a quick note on it too, but most often it’s just the strip. Sometimes they’re ones he’s already read and sometimes, not–he doesn’t care. It has become our “thing.” Last week, I took my little ones, and we joined him at school for lunch. I happened to notice a little girl in his class take a comic strip from her own lunchbox, read it and get a big smile on her face. It made me inordinately happy that someone sends comics too!

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    With one of the comic strips I sent the first week of school
  4. Reading the same book. You don’t always have to be reading aloud to share the same book with your child. Why not get a copy of the same book he/she is reading and read along with them–each independently? Last week when Seth started HP, I had every intention of re-reading it (for the 4th time) so we could better discuss it. I was finishing up a great book myself, and by the time I finished it and could devote my time to HP, he was almost done. Oh well–I had good intentions. Maybe I’ll be able to keep up with him when he starts #2.

How do you see yourself connecting with your child over texts? Share if you have any other great ideas! Read on!

P.S. He was crazy about Harry Potter #1. HP-themed Halloween costumes are in the works for the whole family.

*I like the word “text” instead of books or literature because text includes any type of print–newspapers, online articles, a child’s own writing, etc.

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