Even Teens Need Story Time!

When my kids were younger, I made a special effort to read aloud to them at least once a day. It set a warm, cozy atmosphere in our home. Who doesn’t love to cuddle next to mom and listen to The Duchess Who Baked a Cake, The Big Green Pocketbook, or The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane ? Now that they are ages 13 and up, that time is past, right? No way!

It is not often that we hear anyone urging us to keep that special read aloud time in place when our kids are older. However, it is common to hear that teens need a healthy connection with parents to survive adolescence. In How to Really Love Your Teen, Ross Campbell says that despite their appearance and abilities, teens are not simply mini-adults.

Teenagers are children in transition. They are not young adults. Their needs, including emotional needs, are those of children… They continue to need to feel loved and accepted by their parents (14-15).

Campbell goes on to talk about how to refill your teen’s “love tank” on a regular basis. He lists a number of ways to convey unconditional love: focused attention, meaningful touch, and eye contact.

Later in the book, Campbell talks about helping teenagers intellectually – helping them to think logically and critically.

…be alert for opportunities to teach teens to make correct, accurate associations in thinking. A typical adolescent cannot think abstractedly to a significant degree until he is at least 15 years old, and then he is just learning (111).

Reading aloud can actually do 2 things:

1. Refuel your teen’s “love tank”.
2. Help teens strengthen their critical thinking skills.

Teens are busy people. They often have co-op or post-secondary classes, jobs, and club activities to attend. It can be challenging to find mutual time to enjoy a book together. The good news is that not much time is needed. Just 10-15 minutes per day will do. The key is consistency – a steady, frequent connection.

3 optimal times for reading aloud to teens:


This week’s TOS Blog Cruise topic is all about summer reading. Click the image to find more delightful posts on this topic starting Tuesday, June 12.

1. Mealtime – Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it doesn’t matter. We do whatever works. Sometimes breakfast is nice for catching everyone before they all go off their separate ways. Lunch works especially well on weekends when everyone is home for a day. Dinner is usually a dependable time to come together to regroup and reconnect.

2. Bedtime – I am delighted by the grace that my three teens still come into my room at the end of the day to talk and pray before retiring for the night. What a perfect opportunity to spend a few minutes reading aloud from a suspenseful novel or thought-provoking

3. Drive time – Despite the hassles of big city traffic, I tend to think that car rides with teens are magical opportunities. Whenever we have at least a 20 minute drive to an appointment, music lesson, or co-op class, we break out the audio CDs. Often times, the intellectual stimulation prompts the deepest personal and philosophical conversations! It saves a lot of money on therapy!

When and where do you like to read aloud to your teen?

Works Cited:
Campbell, Ross. How to Really Lover Your Teen. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 1981. Print.


  1. I think it is absolutely essential to continue reading aloud, even when your kids become teens. it reinforces communication, togetherness, safe feelings, and more in other areas of life. My son was in public school until halfway through 4th grade, and one of the saddest things I heard before pulling him out to homeschool was that by 4th grade parents should NOT be helping their kids to stay on top of their work, and should NOT be reading aloud to their kids or taking turns. I couldn’t believe it! Sigh…

    • That is awful, I agree. It completely undermines the parent/child relationship to urge parents to NOT help out with their school work. Kids aren’t cattle where you can declare blanket approaches like that. I can understand the idea of training kids to be more responsible, but pulling out of their lives in a sink or swim mentality isn’t the way to do it. Actually, staying involved and helping, leading, guiding would teach kids to be responsible better than letting them go it on their own. They learn everything by example – and by parents pulling out, students would be taught to abandon others who are growing in their skills… horrible! I doubt these people think about what they are saying sometimes. They just seem to knee-jerk react. Sigh, is right!

      Thanks for stopping by Malea! I’m off to read your butterfly post! ;-)

  2. I have two preschool aged children and we do TONS of read alouds. It’s one of my absolute favorite things. It’s nice to hear they might still be interested in having me read to them when they’re teenagers. :)

    • A cool thing that happened the other day when my 13yo’s ps friend stayed overnight. They took turns reading chapters to each other from the one of their favorite novels. And to think that they were both “reluctant readers” back in the day… It made my heart proud for both of them ;-)

      Thanks for popping in!

  3. I have recently restarted reading aloud to my oldest bunch. It started for me as a way for them to read aloud to me and I thought, hey, maybe they might want a little break. Who says my tweens don’t want mommy time too? At first they were like “What are you doing? You don’t have to do that. I know how to read it.” After I explained that I though they might want a break they were able to chill a little instead of thinking it was an insult.

    • That is a great point, Victoria. At first if a teen isn’t used to it, they might think it strange. I like the way you presented it to them. I can remember old movies where the dad read to everyone in the evenings. It used to be a common way for couples to spend time together too! Definitely pre-TV days ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. When I read aloud to the kids….I’m reading to 10 (soon 12) of them. Next school term they’ll be 1st – 11th grade. They all stretch out on the living room floor, on the couch, littles in bigs laps, propped on pillows, lying on their back staring at the ceiling…even one hanging upside down from a chair (says he can hear better that way LOL). Does this mama’s heart good when I hear…read another chapter we are just getting to the good part.

    Glad to know I’m not “weird” in that I still read to my teens too.

    • Aren’t kids great in the ways that help them listen better? My kids like to hang upside down too. Kids are also really good at creating metaphorical language – we have so many private jokes and descriptive terms that are unique to our own family because of read-aloud references. I just love it!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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