Every so often, I pick out a book I think has the subject matter that my two oldest can both handle and appreciate and I'll read it to them together at bed time. It creates an opportunity for meaningful discussion (a mini book club, of sorts) and it cuts my child-tucking-in-time down by a third! You have no idea how sore my throat can get after reading to each of my three kids at bedtime! I read somewhere once that as long as your kids will allow you to read out loud to them, then you should go ahead and do it. My kids and I have had some thoughtful discussions together as a result of my reading to them and I think they like that we can have these discussions that no one else knows what we're talking about.
Our most recent literary pick was Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson. This book isn't long at all, so it didn't take but a couple of weeks reading one or half (some were long) chapters per night. We break on the weekends. I'll caution you, there are a few swear words. I didn't gloss over them either. Those words were there, after all, to make a point. It was too much fun watching Jenna cover her ears every time she heard me read a swear word. This, from the girl that still innocently thinks "shut up" and "stupid" are bad words! I did gloss over some of the intentional bad grammar. I just can't tolerate it.
Swear words - yes, a time and place for it. Grammar - absolutely not!
This is a story about a middle school aged boy who has developed an unlikely friendship with a girl who just moved in down the road. They find a way to escape the mundane lives they are living by exploring in the woods near their home. This is the place they go to over and over again - their secret, magical place they have named Terabithia. In Terabithia all is good and right in the world and they rule over the land.
I'm reading along one night and am deeply saddened when the story takes a tragic turn for the worse. I am moved to tears - I still cry when Charlotte dies, even though I know she's just a spider and Wilbur is just a pig - I look up at Evan as I dry my eyes. He's moved as well, I can tell. All almost eleven years old of him.
I finish the chapter and decide to call it a night and put them to bed. Evan confesses to me, "I read ahead the other night." He goes on to tell me that he had really gotten into the story and one night he couldn't fall asleep so he grabbed the book and ended up finishing the entire thing. He knew that moment in the book was coming and yet it still made him feel sad all over again. He wanted to tell me the end of the story, assuring me that it ends up having a happy ending, but I wanted to be surprised.
We finished the book and now I am contemplating what to launch into next. Evan suggested Zombie Butts from Uranus, but Jenna and I aren't really into 'tween boy bathroom humor. Likewise, Evan's not too interested in Jenna's series of Dear Dumb Diary books either.
Of course, there's always Charlotte's Web.