Supply and demand – the theory that drives most transactions. If you have a rare talent, a precious commodity, you can charge what you will for it. Those who need your services have to pay.

Case in point – our daughter Reagan.

My kids and I spend a lot of time sharing books aloud. Our homeschooling curriculum (Sonlight Curriculum) is literature-rich, so every school day finds us gathered around a book. And even when school is finished, the kids prefer to hear their favorite books aloud.

By far the best reader of the bunch is our 15 yo daughter Reagan. Reagan’s readings are performances. She has different voices for the characters. She does accents. She draws out the suspenseful portions until I’m tempted to rip the book out of her hands and read ahead. Reagan has talent.

Her sisters and brother will do almost anything in their power to get her to read to them. When they get stuck on a series, they promise to do all her chores, bring her drinks, adjust the lighting…whatever it takes to keep her reading. But before you mentally construct a picture of domestic bliss, children lovingly cuddled around a fireplace, you should understand the negotiations that go into their reading choices.

Currently their favorite series is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordian. Last year when the new book came out, Zeke bought it with his own money…hard cover, full price. He presented it to Reagan and offered to let her read it if she’d read it aloud to him, and not read ahead if he wasn’t there. Just as they were about to shake on the deal, Tabby got involved. If Reagan read to Zeke, there was no guarantee that Tabby would hear the whole book. She needed a way to guarantee that no reading would go on without her. Her options weren’t good. If she bought her own book, Reagan would have the choice between the two of them, and her price might go up. Tabby and Zeke would be stuck doing dishes and cleaning her room for weeks. Negotiations were on. Finally a compromise was reached. Tabby bought Zeke’s copy for $5 more than he’d paid for it and the two committed not to let Reagan read aloud without the other one present.

This year, Tabby got the latest Riordian book, but her schedule is hectic and Reagan and Zeke were growing impatient waiting on her to continue the story. Wanting to read ahead, Reagan tried to persuade Zeke into a deal that would break up Tabby’s monopoly. If Zeke would split the price of the ebook with her, they could both have the book on their Kindles. Seeing the possibility that she might lose her sister’s services, Tabby stepped in to stop that deal. She reminded Zeke that if Reagan got her own copy of the book, she wouldn’t read to either of them. Reagan is too frugal to pay the full price, so even if he did have to wait until Tabby was available, Reagan’s skills as a reader were worth the wait. Seeing the danger, once again he and Tabby banded together to keep Reagan from getting a cheap copy of the book. Thwarted, but she’s still getting to read her favorite author for free while her siblings take care of her chores. Not a bad deal.

Congress could learn something from their negotiation skills.

Once the deal is struck, then, yes, they do cuddle together and laugh and squeal over the adventures of the Olympians. So I get one of those rewarding Mother moments of seeing my children practicing what we’ve modeled for them for years…plus watch them grapple with the concepts of monopoly, supply and demand, and negotiations.

What books has your family read together aloud?

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