Kids can understand stories at a far higher literary level than they can read for themselves. That means your 4 year old may love The Chronicles of Narnia just as much as your 14 year old. That makes reading aloud as a family a great opportunity for bonding and learning but it does, however, present a question about whether kids are "ready" to hear certain things and grapple with certain issues, especially when you're reading to a range of ages.
So, how can you tell when they're ready for what?
Sure, sometimes life hits kids with heavy things to deal with sooner than we'd like, but what's our role in introducing things through literature? Do we risk raising fragile kids when we choose read aloud stories that skirt topics of death, conflict, poverty, bullying or abuse? Or do we cause more harm than good by asking our kids to grapple with things before they're ready to handle them?
How do you choose for your family? Any positive or negative experiences around this issue you can share?