Holly Peterson’s latest book, THE IDEA OF HIM, is about a woman who starts to question her comfortable life choices in order to find real happiness. In Holly’s own life, she finds happiness by connecting to her tween and teen kids through books. Amid all our daily chaos and buzzing technology, it’s important to carve out some quiet, cozy time to share a good story.
Reading to my kids helps connect me to the inside of their brains. We put the technology far away and get under the same covers, and, somehow, my relatively old kids (17, 15, 11) turn back into younger kids. What mom doesn’t want the growing to SLOW DOWN? They snuggle up to me, momentarily forgetting how un-cool I am, and ask for more and more pages to be read. It’s lulling for them; it’s pure joy for me.
As our children grow up, they pull away. The smartest moms figure out ways to lure them back in, to keep the intimacy fresh and active. I started surfing at age 40 just to get water time with my kids; now they beg me to drive to the beach with them. Sports are a great way to bring families together. Reading together has the same bonding effect --- only it’s intellectual and not physical.
I read anything to my kids that I know they will enjoy: a really poorly written ‘tween book to my 11-year-old because she loves them, F. Scott Fitzgerald to my 17-year-old because she thinks he’s the greatest writer god ever created, and even just an interesting medley of sports pages for my son. The point is, I do it in a quiet spot but usually in their rooms, in a cozy corner under blankets, usually late afternoon or evening, because it’s an opportunity to slow down and connect on their level.
We may analyze the reading or it may allow us to move onto other topics, but every time I do this, they beg me to stay and talk more. (Pretty much every time I do anything else with them, they roll their eyes, huff and puff, and beg me to stop and leave.)
They say education is the great equalizer for people who come from different backgrounds, and I have always agreed. In the same way, reading puts us on the same wavelength and gives us equal footing: In other words, it puts us on the same page.