Confession:  I have been reading to my kids since they were born. I made sure they received a healthy portion of the written word long before they could fully digest what those words meant. Of course, I wanted them to learn from the words–colors, letters, numbers, and sounds–but I also wanted to instill in them a love of reading. I figured if they grew enamored with the music of language, they would yearn for it all their lives. Though these were noble goals, I’ll admit there was another reason I loved reading to them. I craved the connection I felt when we enjoyed a story together:  the laughter, the excitement, and the discussions that often followed. I’m proud to say that those things have not changed. I still read with my kids and enjoy it as much now as I ever have.

The opportunity came this year through my fifteen-year-old daughter. She was recently assigned a book report for English class. The assignment allowed her to choose any book she wanted, with a few exceptions, as long as it was something she’d never read before. Since she’s not an avid reader, my daughter asked me to make some recommendations. I was so excited! Not only was I going to get to go through my “greatest hits” list to find something for her to read, I would get to read it with her.

After some initial suggestions, my daughter decided to go for lighthearted and fun over serious and thought-provoking, but I had a plan. I was determined she have a little of both, so I recommended The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  This classic offers the perfect combination of humorous anecdotes interspersed with a critical examination of the meaning of integrity, character, and equality.

As we go through the story and discuss it together, we laugh over Huck’s misadventures and superstitions, and we talk through the ramifications of treating all people with respect and courtesy.  Is there any better way to spend quality time?

Reading together, regardless of age, is constructive.  There are even some books I might have missed if my kids hadn’t asked me to read along with them. Here are a few: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey, Forgotten God by Francis Chan, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

What book did you most enjoy reading with your kids? What book did you read for them that you wouldn’t have read for yourself?