If you’re a grandparent, you probably know the joys of reading aloud to grandchildren. But don’t let that book connection expire as they start to read on their own: Start your own book club.
Book discussions with grandchildren are a great way to keep up a regular connection and have interesting conversations that don’t involve asking about school. Plus, these discussions can provide deep insight into younger perspectives. They also allow grandparents to share wisdom and experiences in ways that are relatable.
Grandparents and grandchildren can read the same book and pick a regular time to discuss — whether that’s by phone, by video chat or in person. The book club might involve multiple grandchildren (if you have them) or just one. You can make the gathering special by cooking themed food if you’re gathering in person, or by dressing up or wearing a hat related to the subject matter in the book.
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Nancy Lingle, the adult librarian at the Davidson, North Carolina, branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, did something similar when her son was a tween.
“[My husband] and I let him pick the book and we would discuss,” she says. “And because he was interested in the material, we became interested in the material. It was fascinating to see what he thought of the characters and the storyline.”
Librarians know that reading is a great way to engage a child. But Corey Farrenkopf, a librarian at the Eastham Library in Eastham, Massachusetts, says the first step is to probe what captures the imagination of your younger reader.
“Kids don’t have much agency,” he says. “They’re forced to read certain books in school, forced to do certain chores. And if you don’t want this to be a chore to them, give them the reins.”
Or, as Farrenkopf puts it, consider a book club as a way to enter your grandchild’s world rather than pulling them into yours. And, be ready to admit that your grandchild’s world may be more sophisticated and move at a faster pace than your own childhood universe. The books you read as a child may be too slow for modern readers.
“You’re competing with social media and all that stuff,” says Farrenkopf, who has taught high school and middle school. “You have to think about how the dopamine receptors work in their brains. Video games, TV, social media all give you that instant hit of dopamine, whereas books are a slow drip.”