If your child brings home a reading group book or class novel that he is currently reading, why not pick it up when he is doing other homework or having screen time? Or pick it up after your child has gone to bed. Read what he’s reading. Then you’ll be able to talk about it with him. You can ask what he thinks about this character, or that situation in the book. It will show your child that:
A. You are a reader.
B. You know what he’s reading and care about it. You’re interested and want to hear his thoughts about the book.
That leads to a unique opportunity to have a mini book club with your child. You can casually discuss thoughts about the book that deepen comprehension, like:
“Do you like [this character]? Why or why not?” (If they don’t want to expound on the why/why not–so common–you can model by giving an example of why you do or don’t like a character, using parts of the book that justify your own opinion).
“What do you think is going to happen with [this situation]?” (Prediction type questions)
“Does [this situation/character/etc] make you think of anything that’s happened to you?” (connecting)
This practice has led me to read several books that I didn’t really want to read prior to his bringing the book home. One of these was Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner; it’s a staple on classroom shelves but I had never wanted to pick it up before. It took me less than an hour to read and was wonderful.
This shouldn’t be surprising: Teachers pick these books for group reads because they’re great books! I am about to read A Wrinkle in Time–a classic children’s book that Seth’s class is just beginning. (I have some weird holes in my repertoire because I was something of a reluctant reader as a child). After that, I’m going to play catch up and read Shiloh (another classic), which they just finished.
Of course it doesn’t have to be a book your child is reading for school. If your child loves a certain series, read a little of it. Even if you find yourself not interested, you’ll at least have gotten an idea of what the books are like and be able to talk about them together.
My favorite thing about teaching children’s and young adult literature classes for adults is hearing students say, “I never knew how many great books are out there for kids! I’ve rediscovered a love for reading!” That’s the best. Read on, parents.