Now that school’s out, your tween can leisurely enter the fantasy world of books — and read about kids like her. Summer is a wonderful time for kids to kick back and read books. Most preteens enjoy reading about characters whose lives mirror their own. And if your child was adopted or previously in foster care, he may take pleasure in reading about fictional adopted characters or characters who’ve been through something similar. This can help normalize his own experience, says Regina Levine, an adoption consultant at Child and Home Study Associates in Media, Pennsylvania.
Books can also provide a springboard for discussion between you and your tween. Try reading a chapter to your child before bed each night, listening to books on tape or CD, or picking up two copies and reading a book together.
Kids in the tween years don’t always appreciate, or even respond to, direct questions. So when you initiate a discussion, begin by asking an open-ended question or offering your own reaction to a book. Let your child know its OK, and safe, to share thoughts and feelings. Levine suggests using these conversation-starters and tailoring your own questions to fit the book:
- The main character in this book was thinking a lot about her birth mother. If that were me, I’d think about my birth mother, too. What about you?
- The kids in this story teased Jim about not having parents. Has anyone ever teased you about being adopted? What do you do when that happens?
- The family in this book is made up of different races, just like our family. Do you think T.J. is embarrassed about looking different from his parents? Do you ever feel strange about looking different from me?
By reading, sharing, and talking together, you and your child can deepen communication, while having your own private book club!