When I was a kid, I loved reading Madeleine L’Engle. The Wrinkle in Time Quintet was one of the few series I re-read. I loved how she wrote for kids and adults and didn’t talk down to either.
If you are an avid reader within a family of readers, you would think it would be easy to share the books that impacted you most. I’ll hug a book to my chest in the library and then hand it to one of my kids like I am handing them the keys to the world. And this is the typical exchange:
Me: You have to read this book. I loved it as a kid. I read and read and read it.
Kid: Um, does it have (ninja’s, zombie’s, dragons, graphic novel version etc.)
Me: No, but you’ll love it.
Kid: You say that, but it’s never true.
Me: But you have to. This formed who I am!
Kid: I think I’m gonna go with my usual (Garfield, Jonathan Stroud, Rick Riordan….)
Me: *sigh* maybe the dogs will let me read it to them.
Books are so individual. Every book has its reader, but every reader will NOT read the book their mom suggests to them. I have almost thought about handing out the books to other adults or teachers or their friends and say, “Hey have you read this awesome book? Doesn’t matter, hand it to my kid and tell them you loved it.”
Even though I have a MASTER’S DEGREE in suggesting books, my kids think I suck at it.
I wasn’t going to give up on a Wrinkle in Time though. She is an author that grows with you. You can read these books at any age and still get a lot out of them. So I downloaded it from audible and every night we sit as a family and listen.
The kids are welcome to do whatever they want, but they have to be in the living room. Legos, logic puzzles, coloring, drawing, doodling, crocheting. It doesn’t matter as long as they sit.
The first couple of days went much like you imagine.
Kid: I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOUR OLD-TIMEY BLACK AND WHITE BOOK.
Another Kid: Aren’t all books black and white?
Obstinate Kid: Yes, but our sibling means an old person book.
Me: I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear that and go book an appointment for a hair touch up.
But, then the complaining stops. They still act like it is the worst part of their day, but I knew I was successful in sucking them into the book when they don’t want to stop.
Sure, it’s probably because they want to stay up later, but I’ll stay in my imaginary world where the kids finally see my brilliance in choosing books and the error of their ways.
But, they do like it.
Just keep telling me they do.
I think it is important to read to your kids every day and as they get older it becomes harder and harder because they have their own books they want to read. But, the classics do have a purpose. It’s why I’m listening to the audio of Emma. I don’t have to read it, but it says something important about the human experience. We won’t often pick the books that challenge us until we hear why someone else read it. Then we clamor for it.
Again, unless it is your mother, and then it goes to the dustbins of book history.
Audiobooks are a great workaround to the kid belief that any book mom suggests is lame. Don’t want me to read you Ribsy? Fine, let Neil Patrick Harris entertain you. Do you think I suck as Lemony Snicket? You’re wrong, but Tim Curry is a fair alternative.
If your kids are like mine, make time to listen to audiobooks together. And don’t say you read it in a blog post (because they will assume it came from the blog how mom’s like to torture their kids), but tell them their favorite actor, sports figure or random stranger on the street told you about it, because they won’t believe YOU that it is a good book.
What are your favorite audiobooks to listen together as a family?