As children grow older and become proficient readers themselves, it is easy for parents to stop reading aloud at bedtime. Yet it is a lovely way of retaining the warmth and closeness engendered by a nightly rhythm and it is also an opportunity for parents to bring more complex literature than the child may be able to read on their own, and to discuss ideas that may not arise in everyday life.
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff is one such book. Beautifully written, it paints a picture of life in Britain after the Roman army departed. The seeds of the Arthurian legends are sown in the interplay between the Romanised Britons, the Celts and the invading Saxons. The language may be too complex for many 13 year olds to read independently, but read aloud it would be a treat – and totally age-appropriate.
Legends of King Arthur by Isabel Wyatt tells stories that are part of our cultural heritage. This is another great one to share, though not because of the language. These Arthurian tales have a deep familiarity for most adults, whether they realise they are familiar with them or not! And the feeling for the wholeness helps to hold the different legends together for the young teen.
Momo by Michael Ende is a magical parable suitable for aged 12 – adult, and especially relevant to today’s busy society. It tells the story of a little homeless girl, called Momo, with a special gift for listening. The villains of the story are the grey gentlemen. Sinister, silent, insidious, they work for the Time Bank, urging people to cut out unnecessary interaction in order to ‘save time’. Containing a powerful healing metaphor for our time, this is a book everyone needs to read. If you haven’t read it yet, read it with your child! I guarantee an interesting discussion will unfold – and these sorts of conversation are just what you want with your teen.