Reading to older children– fun and beneficial

reading to older childrenMy kids love reading. Pim and Sara really devour books, and Ava has also recently gotten the hang of it. They are entirely captivated by their books! (Poor Casper, it can be frustrating to be the only one unable to read!)

I suppose it can be a natural transition to stop reading to children when they start to do so themselves. But when Sara was 10 (and Pim 8), I started reading the Harry Potter series to them (and it took me about 2½ years to dig through them!). I was reading to them in English, and this in combination with the difficult language and pretty complex storyline made it too difficult for Ava (and obviously Casper) to follow. So it was my special time with Pim and Sara. We spent hours cuddled up together, entranced by the magic of the books! I even read on long car journeys, and Tamar and Ava started to listen along as well.

reading to older children - NarniaNow that we have finished the Harry Potter books I recently started reading the Narnia books. Ava is big enough to follow (she’s nearly 8), and Casper likes to listen in, but I’m not sure how much he understands of the story. It’s extra fun for me to read Narnia because I’ve never read it before myself!

There are some good reasons not to stop reading to children, even when they get bigger — to entice them to become lifelong readers:

  • Reading grows a child’s vocabulary. The language in books is generally more sophisticated and more rich than in conversation.
  • Reading to a child increases their attention span.
  • Reading to children plants their interest in books and thus grows their desire to start reading themselves.
  • Reading to children can be a good opportunity, using the story, to discuss certain difficult issues / life choices.
  • Children generally have a higher listening level than reading level, so you can read more serious and captivating books to them than they would be able to read themselves — thus motivating them to keep reading.
  • Books widen your world! The wider your world, the more you understand and can empathise.
  • Bonding with your children over books is really fun. And it is a great way to read books you missed out of as a child!
  • Books are not screens. Enough said.

After Narnia the children want me to read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. We’ll see, it might maybe be a tad too much? I was wondering — do you have any tips on great books to read together as a family? For when we have finished reading Narnia?

xxx Esther

PS Our posts on great chapter books.


Comments (13)

May 7, 2018

Thanks for the inspiration Esther! I am on holiday as well (at Schiermonnikoog) and will visit the bookshop tomorrow! Also a great idea to read in English! Thanks!

Laura from Germany
May 8, 2018

I really liked:
– Hunger Games
– Divergent Series
– Twilight
– Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle)
– Song of the Lioness series
– Fallen Series
– House of Night Series
– Warrior Cats
and a huge succes for reading out loud was the original Winnie the Pooh

Shannon in NYC
May 8, 2018

I completely agree about the importance of reading aloud to older children. On top of my mother reading to us at home, we were read to during our “Library” period at school all the way through 8th grade (13 years old). Two books I remember having read to me during those older years are The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (I was probably about 11 and my sister 9 when my mother read this to us) and The Giver by Lois Lowry (I also read this independently around he same time, but I still believe there’s value in reading aloud a book a child could read on their own).

May 8, 2018

Great books for your older children: “The Neverending Story” and “Momo” from Michael Ende ( the original stories are so much better then the movies based on them). And “Krabat” from Otfried Preußler. I loved these as a child and my mother read them to me and my brother too when we were older.

May 8, 2018

You probably already know these books but reading your post I remembered how much I enjoyed as a “tween” myself when our mother was reading to us Astrid Lindgren’s Brothers Lionheart and Ronia the robber’s daughter. Wishing you and your kids a lot of wonderful reading journeys!

lisa lou
May 8, 2018

My eldest is 7 so I’m reading to my kids but I thought that would stop soon – I agree lovely to read to them when you they are older and I enjoyed reading your reasons why its beneficial.

How you manage to find time with 5 kids is impressive! well done

May 10, 2018

I’m reading Wonder with my ten year old son and we are both really enjoying both the book at the special time together. We haven’t finished it yet, but I really recommend Wonder as it is a great conversation starter around difficult issues, and helps to give perspective, because sometimes ten year olds in privileged upbringings can lose perspective…!

May 12, 2018

We have been plowing through The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We loved Narnia too.

May 13, 2018

We’ve gone through the Harry Potter and Narnia collections as well. Also planning to read the book of dust trilogy by Philip Pullman. And of course any Road Dahl books are always amazing to read (again and again), with the youngest ones too.

June 9, 2018

I wonder if you use different voices for different characters? I think it makes listening more captivating but I always get confused while reading to my kids and the voices don’t sound the same by the end of the book!

Esther in Amsterdam
June 11, 2018

Haha yes I do!! But it’s true it can be confusing at times! xx

Krista Bagnell
August 7, 2018

I have read swallows and amazons to my, then 12 year old, now on to swallowdale, at 13 years old. It’s trickier now as he stays up later, but we manage at least one session a week!! It’s always a super nice time together, especially as the teenage winds start blowing!!!

September 26, 2018

We’ve been reading too – I just finished The Hobbit with my 9 year old and he loved it. I think that the Lord of the Rings is probably a step too far (even for S), but The Hobbit is great.

The Book of Dust Trilogy is awesome and definitely worth a try.

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