I’ve been reading the Birchbark House series to my kids, before bedtime. I read the series myself a year ago but reading it to them I’ve experienced these stories through their eyes, and they have been enthralled.
We’ve read to my son practically since he was born and he’s always loved it. Even now at 11 he’s still setting his head next to mine when we read, and I’m enjoying these moments now because I know they won’t last forever. I read almost the entire Wizard of Oz series to him (13 books), some of the Little House books (he mostly read that series himself), The Hobbit, and many more, all of which he’s gone on to read by himself. Often he’ll read a book first and then ask me to read it to him: Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Dog Man, Bone, Home of the Brave, etc.
My daughter is two years younger and she doesn’t seem to enjoy being read to in the same way or to the same degree, though she has joined in for readings of Judy Blume’s Fudge series (her favorite) and Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper” (Mom read that one and everyone had a blast). And now she’s joined us for much of the Birchbark books. For the first time I can remember she set her head against mine while I read a book (it happens a lot with videos, of course; that medium is always a winner with both kids). And they are still asking for more (we are currently in the second Birchbark book, The Game of Silence, and the only one left for us is The Porcupine Year), even though they’ve both recently started Harry Potter and are going nuts over it.
Both kids seem riveted by anything to do with two Birchbark characters in particular, Old Tallow and Two Strike Girl.
Babiche, Baptiste and Gichi Noodin are also favorites, as is, always, Omakayas.
Reading anything out loud, even by yourself, makes a difference, particularly with poetry, I’ve found. It’s true with any text that was originally an oral text, I think. But reading a young adult novel to kids can really throw you into a story the way you were meant to throw yourself in.
And I think for them, too, it’s an experience. Private reading has its own joys but being read to is always something else.
I think it improves their listening skills, too!
If you don’t know of the Birchbark series, I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have kids.