We were late to the Harry Potter series. Three or four books were already out when we got the first one. We decided to read it aloud together as a family. That began a years-long journey together through the world of Hogwarts. When the final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released, we sent a copy to my son, who was aboard a naval ship with his Marine unit. My husband and I and our college-aged daughter continued the tradition of reading aloud each evening.

Though we had ‘rules’ about not reading ahead, all of us later admitted to stealing away to the bathroom late at night to read a few pages. To this day, we still discuss Harry Potter and the other series we read together (Narnia, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings, among others. I still have bad dreams about trying to read elven poetry aloud!) We don’t just remember the stories; we recall with fondness the stories of reading the stories. They are part of our family history.

We know that reading aloud to young children helps with language development and literacy skills, can instill a love for reading, models how to gain and share knowledge, and promotes bonding. But the benefits of reading aloud together don’t end when your child can read on their own. Keep reading together! The shared memories and time away from screens bonding over a shared adventure is priceless.

-An Empty Nester