When we were growing up, there were kids and teens. Now, there's a new classification: Tweens. The tween group is made up of kids who are too old to be considered little kids but too young to be classified as teenagers. My son is a tween, though I think he’d rather skip this stage and just be sixteen. Reading with your tween — who is old enough to be consistently fluent while reading and requires less adult help (even with trickier texts) — means that your role changes. You shift from reading to them, to reading with them. Sometimes its the same book, sometimes its different books in each other’s company.
It's still beneficial for older readers to hear their parents read — you’ll catch vocabulary that they haven’t mastered and also provide a great example of reading fluently with expression. Also, tweens want their parents to read with them. According to the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report, “four in 10 children ages 6–11 who were read books aloud at home (40%) say they wished their parents had continued reading aloud to them.” So don’t assume your tween is too old for reading aloud. Reading independently next to your tween is also beneficial; doing this lets your kid see you enjoying reading and that you are making time for it because it’s important. That message rubs off, trust me! Here are a few tips that have helped us make this transition.
- Let kids choose. Please PLEASE (can you see how important I think this is?) let your tween choose what he wants to read.
- Do not belittle or pass judgment on their reading choice. Kids at this age may act like they don’t care what we think but they are sensitive to our judgments. Knocking their reading material can be enough for them to put that book, comic, or magazine down and not pick it back up.
- Ask tweens to read together. Give your tween a choice to read or listen.
- Make a reading date. Take your books to a coffee shop, grab a drink, and read together either the same texts or separate ones.
- Encourage independent reading choices. Go to the library or bookstore with your tween, but go off and find your books on your own, and allow your kid the freedom to do the same.
- Don’t make reading a chore. I used to have a rule that reading had to come before screens and while that worked well for my family when my son was younger, we found that if we do that now, he rushes through the reading to “just get it done.” Experiment with how to fit it into your tween’s day without turning it into homework and sucking the joy out of it.
What are your tips for reading with your tween? Share them on Scholastic Parents Facebook page.
Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.