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Reading to Teens

teens read 1

Do you read to your teenagers? I’ve just begun reading to our teens after a hiatus of years. Over the years I’ve read aloud to our middle and younger children (mostly) but for various reasons I haven’t been reading to our teens. This has bothered me for years and I’ve yearned to change the situation but have been griped by an inertia to do so. What was the catalyst for change? I was downloading Sarah’s podcasts when the title Reading Aloud to Older Children (still haven’t listened to it) caught my eye and I was instantly determined and inspired to read to our teens. We began that afternoon and have continued since.


Why can’t our teens just listen to read alouds along with their younger siblings? Well they are always welcome to and often will drift in and out. Reality is though, they find it distracting listening with the younger ones and with an age span of 16 years to 22 months this is understandable.  They will listen for a bit but prefer to take the book and read it later on their own than tolerate the younger ones’ rambunctiousness. Also, finding books that will hold the interest of such a wide age range can be a challenge, whilst it is possible, by always targeting the middle of the group the children on either end of the scale can be missed. Not only may their interest not be engaged, there are ‘younger’ books I want the younger children to experience, and ‘older’ books and concepts I want to introduce to our teens that aren’t appropriate in a mixed age group. Reading books with just teens provides wonderful discussion opportunities on certain subject matter that can’t occur when younger children are present.


The most compelling reason to read to our teens is the opportunity to spend quality time creating memories together. Having special ‘mum time’ can be difficult to manage in a large family yet it means so much to our children. Also, by allowing them a time to be ‘separate’ to not always be grouped as part of a larger ‘mob’, makes them feel valued and recognised as individuals. By focusing on them as teens, recognising their uniqueness, they feel respected and supported as emerging young adults.


What are we reading? Thus far we’ve read, All The Green Year – Don Charlwood, which we loved. Partially due to the book itself but also the time set aside to be together, special indeed. We’re now reading Children of the New Forest – Frederick Marryat. The challenge is finding books to suit both teens, books for this age group are more gender orientated than for younger children so with a 16 year old boy and 14 year old girl this means I have to search harder. Another challenge is, at 14 our girl is less ‘aware’ than her older brother, and whilst books are a great way to introduce new concepts and provide discussion opportunities, the different stages of their awareness affects what books I select.


I’m grateful that I’ve overcome my inertia and am reading aloud to my teens. Enjoying books together, spending time together, making memories with these precious emerging young adults of ours.


Do you read aloud to your teens?

I invite you to share suggestions for read alouds with teens.


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  • Suzanne

    I love Sarah’s podcasts, I’ve just started working my way through them. Totally agree that aiming for the middle doesn’t work for a wide age range. I’m settling for reading 2-3 books during read aloud time, working my way up from the youngest to oldest. The expressions in that photo are priceless.

    • Erin

      Glad you’re working your way through Sarah’s podcasts:) I do think aiming to the middle sometimes is fine, but not always. Yes we usually have about 3 books on the go. Only one is our ‘literature/fun read’ though, and I’m finding even then that I’m aiming more to my 9 & 11 yr olds, whilst the 7 yr old keeps up, there are several books that he would enjoy that perhaps not my 11 yr old would.

  • Kylie

    Love this Erin! That is one thing that we have maintained in our homeschool. Reading aloud even to the teens. It’s such a great way to bond!

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