Reading Together With Tweens and Teens

Reading Together With Tweens and Teens

By Michall Jeffers

Communicating with adolescents can be challenging. Sometimes it’s difficult to discuss anything with your preteen or teen, much less sensitive subjects like sex, drug use, and drinking. Why not form a book club with your child? Have the understanding that you’re partners; you’re both on a quest to find the most interesting, enjoyable books to share. You might want to include your other children in the same age group. But you know your child best; would individual attention or sharing with a sibling make for livelier, more honest discussions? Does your youngster enjoy reading aloud together, or is solo reading the way to go?

Do stress that reading is important, and that the time spent is to be valued. Creating a “Quiet, I’m Reading” sign might be fun, and it’s a good tool to help boost self-esteem.

Make a habit of taking time to read what your youngster is assigned for school. Are oldies but goodies like “A Tale of Two Cities” still on the list? If you read “Lord of the Flies” and “A Separate Peace” during your own formative years, that would be a great place to start. Talk about your remembered impressions from the first time you read those books and how your view of the books has changed now that you are reading them as an adult. How do your thoughts on the books relate do those of your child? How does the world climate/time period in which you each first experienced the books impact each of your interpretations of the books?

Most schools have a summer reading requirement. Making the summer reading assignment a shared activity can be a great time to start your parent-child book club. Then you can transition into the fall, either through continuing to read and discuss school assigned reads or branching off in new literary directions.

Nothing beats the enjoyment of finding a brand new book you can discover together. Be aware that Young Adult books tend to be edgier nowadays. We’ve come a long way from being shocked by Judy Blume’s frankness.

The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquest, is about four nearly identical girls living on an island. What happens when a young woman, who’s nothing like them, washes ashore can lead to a straightforward exchange about what it means to be an individual.

Nova Ren Suma’s 17 And Gone blends Science Fiction and YA themes. Consider this if your child sometimes seems to feel lost.

In Ultra Violets, Sophie Bell shows younger teens how to deal with their power—super or not.

There are some great action-filled boy’s books, too.

 Throwing Strikes is the story of the challenges faced by Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Gregory Galloway doesn’t pull any punches with The 39 Deaths Of Adam Strand. Good for discussing how we cope.

For fun and a taste of the Old West, Caroline Lawrence’s P.K. Pinkerton And The Petrified Man fills the bill.

Some of these books are lighter reads, others are much darker. Why not let your child choose what’s most interesting?

Michall Jeffers, who reviews books for, is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle.


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