The busy world in which we live makes it difficult for families to share a meal together, or engage in weekend chats. But kids need to know that adults, especially parents, are there for them when they have a problem to solve. It may be something as simple as what to do when a best friend is angry with you. Maybe a kid needs advice about how to approach a teacher about a grade. It could even be more serious topics like drugs, alcohol, bullying, or sex. Whatever the topic, it’s important that kids feel that their thoughts matter, and that most problems can be solved with good conversation.
October is National Communicate with Your Kid Month. This is the perfect time for school and public libraries to promote good communication in families by asking kids and their parents to read together. Here are a few ideas to get kids and parents reading and talking:
- A Perfect book for family read aloud is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Ask families to engage kids in a discussion about ways to handle boredom. This book may well connect with kids who have too many material things and still don’t know what to do with their time.
- Ask elementary school age kids to select a book for their parents to read aloud to the family. Encourage them to select something that everyone in the family may enjoy. It may be a favorite Dr. Seuss book like And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street or If I Ran the Zoo. They may select books of poems like Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky or Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. Perhaps they will choose a good adventure story like Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter & illus. by Melissa Sweet or Racing the Moon by Alan Armstrong & illus. by Tim Jessell; a fantasy like The Wondrous Journals of Dr. Wendell Wellington Wiggins by Lesley M.M. Blume & illus. by David Foote; a mystery/fantasy like The Sixty-Eight Rooms and the companion novel Stealing Magic by Marianne Malone; a science mystery like Scat by Carl Hiaasen.
- Ask older kids to brainstorm topics that they would like to discuss with their parents. Expect them to mention more serious subjects. Then suggest books on these topics that they may ask their parents to read. Suggestions may include:
- One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath (ages 9-12)
- Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead 9ages 9-12)
- Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg (ages 9-12)
- How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (ages 12-up)
- Blubber by Judy Blume (ages 10-12)
- Shredderman by Wendelin Van Draanen (ages 10-up)
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio (ages 12-up)
- Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard (ages 14-up)
- Belle Prater’s Boy by Ruth White (ages 9-12)
- Child of the Mountain by Marilyn Sue Shank (ages 9-12)
- Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (ages 9-12)
- Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (ages 14-up)
- Unraveling by Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman (ages 14-up)
- The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (ages 12-up)
- Orchards by Holly Thompson (ages 12-up)
- You Against Meby Jenny Downham (ages 14-up)
Give parents pointers for leading a discussion with their kids.
- Don’t be judgmental of their reading choices
- Listen to their opinions about the themes and characters
- Apply the novels to their everyday lives
Ask parents to suggest a book for their kids to read. Maybe it’s an old favorite from their childhood, or it may be an adult novel that older kids may find interesting.
Finally, you may consider sponsoring a family night in the library. Encourage young readers to walk their parents through the book stacks and share their favorite books.