A few months ago my grandchildren were visiting and after a time of engaging in their activities, I asked my recently turned 10 year old grandson to read me one of his books. I think he was initially surprised at my request but soon readily complied. I told him to select a book that he wanted to read to me and we snuggled together on the couch along with my granddaughter to listen to the narrative soon to begin. As he read, I closed my eyes, listened intently, asked questions for clarification and laughed appropriately at the proper time. As my grandson read, I would question him about the characters and he patiently clarified the characters’ roles or explained any missing points that I did not understand.
As he continued to read, I realized that my asking questions and interacting with him during the reading session allowed him to unknowingly demonstrate his oral reading skills and comprehension of the story that was being read without having a formal answer-question session to examine his understanding. He added his side comments as a way of explanation as he read the story. As the session continued, my granddaughter was thoroughly immersed in the story line and added comments as the story progressed. As my grandson read, he changed his voice and added colorful intonation as he read the actions of each character. He was thoroughly pleased that he was reading the story to me and felt a sense of pride that he was reading to the adult and not vice versa.
Reading with your grandchildren offers a special time of bonding, love and friendship to develop between the two generations. It provides an opportunity to share an experience that costs nothing more than time, patience and the desire to be together. Encourage your grandchildren to participate in library summer reading programs in your community. Introduce them to some of the classic books that have spanned generations. Take time to accompany your grandchildren to the library to select books that are of interest to their particular age group. When they visit or when you babysit, let them show off their reading prowess and help them to learn new words that will increase their vocabulary without going through rote memorization exercises to acquire new words and definitions. The relaxed setting at home is conducive to spending a pleasurable time together sharing a good book. Even more important and gratifying is the shared joy that grandchild and grandparent can experience and remember for life. My daughter later shared with me that my grandson was thrilled that I had asked him to read to me and he remarked to his mother that ” surprisingly grandmother seemed to enjoy the story”. I had no idea that my simple request would bring such pleasure as reader and as hearer. It was a lovely experience for grandmother to be read to by her grandson and periodically we will continue to read to one another and soon enough my granddaughter will join the reading circle.
Look for opportunities to have your grandchildren read to you as they enjoy a relaxing, non academic setting that allows them to feel completely at ease as they proudly demonstrate their reading skills to you, the grandparent(s). The activity will enrich their lives and provide lifelong memories for both grandparent and grandchild and hopefully foster a lifelong interest in reading for your grandchildren.