Do you struggle to find quality fun things to do with your teens and college aged kids? Have you ever tried doing book dates with your kids? It may sound a little strange, but they are so much fun!
Several years ago my kids started taking me out to eat for my birthday. They always struggled to come up with gift ideas for me.
My birthday is also in December which means that is comes during a month that is often short on money and time.
Birthday lunches or dinners solved this problem. Each of my kids takes me out to eat. We then spend a few hours shopping or doing something else fun together.
We usually do lunch since it is cheaper than dinner. They let me pick where we eat. I try to pick something that is not very expensive. Usually we end up going to Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, or something similar.
It is often hard to get quality one on one time with teens and college kids. My kids taking me out to lunch is one of the best gifts they can give me. Not only are they paying for lunch they are spending time with me. That allows for good conversation and discussions about life and issues that they may be struggling with.
This year I decided to add book dates to our birthday lunch dates. At first my kids weren’t sure what to think but in the end they all ended up loving it.
What is a book date?
For us it meant going to a bookstore and picking out each other a book. We went into the bookstore and went our separate ways. I picked out a book for the kid I was with and they picked out a book for me. There were really no rules except to pick out a book that we thought the other one would enjoy.
Because our family loves books and we can’t keep up with what each of us has read or owns we showed each other the books before we paid for them. This way we didn’t end up buying a book that the person had read or had already bought.
My son found this the most challenging, but in the end he enjoyed it. I told him it was good practice for buying gifts for a girlfriend or wife someday. 🙂
My son ended up picking out a book for me that I probably never would have picked for myself, but I think it is a book that I will really enjoy.
That is part of the fun of this challenge though. It helps push you outside your normal reading choices. It also shows you how much you know about each other’s reading tastes.
My son got me I Choose Peace: Raw Stories of Real People Finding Contentment and Happiness. He knows I like biographies and memoirs and that I always have at least one Christian book going.
This book is a collection of stories of famous people whose lives where changed when they placed God first. I think it will be an interesting read.
I couldn’t decide on what book to get my son. I found two books that I thought would be good leadership, hard work, life skills type of books so I ended up getting both of them for him.
I got him Make Your Bed and Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations both by Admiral William McRaven. Even if he does not read these now I think that they will be books that he will enjoy at some point over the next few years.
Grace loves books and loves buying books for gifts, so she enjoyed the book date the most. It will be something that we definitely do again. I think it would be fun to do for her birthday later this year.
The main problem I had picking out a book for Grace was that I can’t keep up with all the books that she has read. I could have easily found her a book that she would enjoy, but I did not want to buy a book that she had already read.
For Grace I ended up picking out Remembering Ella: A 1912 Murder and Mystery in the Arkansas Ozarks.
Grace enjoys true crime books and since we live in eastern Oklahoma we are familiar with the Ozarks. I thought she would enjoy this regional true crime book. I was also sure that it was a book that she hadn’t read.
For me Grace choose Tulsa 1921. It is a book about the Tulsa Race Riots.
There is not a lot written on the Tulsa Race Riots. In fact, most people outside of Oklahoma probably don’t know exactly what the Tulsa Race Riots are. I have lived in Oklahoma for over twenty years and I do not know a lot about them.
I read Dreamland Burning last year, which is a fictional YA book about the Tulsa Race Riots. After reading that book I mentioned that I wanted to know more about the Tulsa Race Riots, so when Grace saw Tulsa 1921 she know that I would enjoy it.
My oldest daughter is extremely structured and likes to plan stuff out. I did not tell her ahead of time what we were doing, so she wasn’t sure what to think because she wanted to put some thought into what book to buy.
My goal for this was for it to be spontaneous and fun. I didn’t want them to put a ton of thought into it. It wanted it to be spontaneous. In the end she really enjoyed it and was glad we did it.
She found a book for me that she thought I would love a couple minutes after we walked into the store. Which I think helped her enjoy it because she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to just quickly find a book.
The book she got me was A Bookshop In Berlin. It is about a Jewish bookseller during WWII. It looks like a great book and I can’t wait to read it. It is a newer release that I had never heard of.
Both my daughters love reading nonfiction history and military type books. They are not the typical type of books that college girls enjoy, but they both love to read them.
Grace loves all kinds of history, but she especially enjoys WWI and WWII. My oldest daughter though prefers more modern history. She loves to read about events that have happened in the last twenty or thirty years.
For her I knew she would enjoy more of modern nonfiction history or military story. It turns out that it was a book that she had on her Amazon wish list, so I think I did a good job picking a book that she would enjoy. I am pretty sure it is a book that my husband and son will also read and enjoy.
And the fact that we all picked out nonfiction books for each other is a pretty good look at our family’s reading life. We do read fiction, but given a choice we almost always pick the nonfiction reads.
How do you do a book date?
Really there were no rules for doing book dates with your kids. The goal is to spend time together and have some fun.
The books we picked for each are books that will create memories. They may end up becoming a favorite books, but even if they don’t we created a memory that will last for years.
I am pretty sure book dates will be a new tradition for my birthday dates with my kids. They might even be a new tradition for their birthdays.
And in case you are curious I paid for the books not my kids. I had a couple of giftcards so we went to Barnes and Noble. Books at Barnes and Noble are not usually cheap, so I didn’t want the kids to have spend that much on a gift for me on top of lunch.
The same idea could be done at an Independent or used bookstore. A used bookstore would be a lot of fun and would be an inexpensive way to spend time together. Well, inexpensive if you just buy one book each.
If you have teens, college aged kids, or even tweens that love to read I encourage you to give this a try. They might find it really fun to pick out a book for you and you for them!