Read them together and discuss over coffee or ice cream!
Reading to your kids is so important for their development. Just because you have a teenager now and not a 3-year-old doesn’t mean you both can’t benefit from sharing a good book.
Here are a few good (and quick!) options to share, from short stories to short books — each has a Christian worldview and can be easily acquired. You might not have the opportunity to read them aloud to each other, but you can each read them individually, and then set a time to discuss what you read over coffee or ice cream.
The Image by Steven Faulkner
Set in three parts, this short novel traces the history of a mosaic from its original creation through the modern day. Describing the novel like that, though, does about as much justice to it as does to describe The Lord of the Rings as “a novel that traces the history of a ring on its journey to destruction.”
The Image is fast-paced and engaging, but also beautiful and moving. The last part of the book presents a quandary about the life of art across time, and what the purpose of art is. Both ideas would be interesting to discuss together. You can purchase this lively and accessible work, published in 2021, at Barnes and Noble and Beaufort Books or Amazon.
Mr. Blue by Myles Connolly
What a strange and earnest man Mr. Blue is. As his story is told from the point of view of one of his many friends and acquaintances, the more you learn about him the more surprised you are. The pace is staccato, going here and there quickly; telling and showing pieces of the eccentric man’s life.
Connolly paints some vivid images in this book that I have not forgotten, and think back on from time to time. It is not the most cohesive story, but it is very memorable. A question to consider from it might be, what does Jesus ask of his followers in today’s world; how radical are they supposed to be?
Leaf by Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is a profound and delightful work about the importance of loving your neighbor. The story follows the character Niggle as he keeps trying to finish his painting, but neighbors near and far interrupt him constantly needing his help. The reader follows Niggle into the afterlife.
If the teenage grump is strong in your child, this might be a subtle way to help them reflect on their attitude and how it affects those around them. Overall, a beautiful read.
The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne
What would happen if someone you knew and respected suddenly and inexplicably wore a veil that covered his face all day every day? Follow Mr. Hooper, the minister in the town of Milford, as he lives his life permanently veiled, and how that changes his life and the lives of those around him. In some ways, it helps him connect more with some in his flock, but overall, it creates problems in most of his relationships. The ending is not tidy, so it can easily jumpstart a conversation about why the minister wore the veil, and what it might mean.
Spending the time reading and discussing good literature with your teen will help him or her develop on all levels. Reading is important for physical and spiritual development as well when you consider the necessary attention span it takes to read, and add a good, beautiful story that moves the heart. Plus, you can connect emotionally, and help them hone their intellects through discussion.