5 February 2023
The bedtime story! THE bedtime story!
Who doesn’t remember the bedtime story?
It’s a legend in the lifetime of children.
How many of us remember that precious time at bedtime when we snuggled up with mum or dad, granny or grandad, brother, sister, babysitter - for a magical journey into a storybook?
Unfortunately, increasingly busy lives compete enormously with bedtime storytime. The last ten years or so have been looking at a substantial decline in the number of parents reading to their children at bedtime. Happily, one of the few benefits of the Covid pandemic, according to the Book Trust charity, was a surge in storytime, with some parents saying they had read to their children for the very first time!
However, it’s worth squeezing some time into the busy daily schedule for the many benefits reading brings, emotionally, educationally, and developmentally.
What’s not to love about that feeling of being safe and secure, snuggling up, listening to a familiar voice, chatting and sharing some giggles, etc. Children thrive on feeling loved and looked after, and what better time to nurture this than just before sleep?
Storytime provides the ideal opportunity to stimulate conversation, share ideas and thoughts, try new words, and expand vocabulary. Listening to stories has been linked to higher levels of literacy at school.
Books are a great way to share feelings and fears and explore all the big and small worries and concerns that bother little heads as they become increasingly aware of the world around them. Stories can provide shared experiences, raise comparisons, create empathy and compassion, and so much more. Books can help address issues for discussions like the death of a pet or a new baby; they can bring tears and laughter, anticipation, etc.
We can have so much fun with words! Take a look at some of the books that use rhymes, made-up/invented words, onomatopoeia, and how they are presented on the page in so many different shapes, colours, and representations.
Stories fire-up children’s imagination. Their world is suddenly populated with imaginary people, animals, worlds, and creatures. As your child develops, watch these stories appear and expand into their own writing and pictures.
Reading with your child at bedtime enables them access to stories and concepts that may be beyond their capability if left to themselves.
We want to choose age-appropriate books suited to our children’s abilities. However, listening to a story read by mum or dad, particularly for those in the early stages of independent reading, almost certainly offers a more challenging vocabulary and complexity, plus someone is always on hand to explain the tricky bits.
Traditionally, the bedtime story is the final part of the bedtime routine, when teeth have been cleaned, pyjamas are on, and everyone is thinking about sleep. Reading a bedtime story brings everyone together in a final shared moment of relaxation and unwinding before sleep takes over.