If you feel like you’ve let your bedtime story routine slip, I assure you, you are not alone! But all is not lost…
We’ve all been there: the children have been fed and bathed and you’re ready for a night on the sofa watching ‘Game of Thrones’ or working your way through the endless list of jobs that family life entails. However, there’s definitely one more job left on your child’s to-do list before you tuck them in and say good night and that of course is the bedtime story. And for a lot of us – I include myself at times – that final ten minutes can almost tip us over the edge!
Benefits of a bedtime story routine
The bedtime story routine brings with it many benefits: improved language skills, social and emotional awareness, another opportunity to bond and of course it is the first stepping stone in creating the love for reading that so many children are missing out on. Logically, this makes sense: if a child has enjoyed story time from a young age, then they will not remember a time when stories didn’t excite them and as they learn to read, reading the stories themselves will be natural.
Despite the proven benefits however, current research indicates that around at least 33% of parents don’t read to their children, with some research indicating the numbers could be closer to 75%. That’s not meant to sound judgemental in any way – in the real world, it can be difficult to always do what we know we should.
My top tips to ensure you all enjoy and benefit
So, perhaps you’re that person who has let the bedtime story routine slip, telling yourself that you’ll get back into it when work calms down a bit; perhaps you’ve never read to your children because you didn’t realise there were any benefits or perhaps you religiously do story time every night, but it seems like a drag and you only do it because you know you should. Whichever category you fit into, have a read of some of my tips below to help make story time a fun and engaging experience for you and your child:
- If possible, story time should be in the same place each night; ideally somewhere comfy where your child can snuggle up to enjoy this time with you.
- Choose books which are age appropriate and interest your child.
- Do voices to entertain them. When you re-read the story, watch with joy as your child becomes excited as they anticipate your dramatic re-enactments!
- Revisit stories that they have enjoyed. There are a couple of stories that my three year old knows so well, that even though he can’t read, he sees it as his job to ‘read’ certain bits – usually the dialogue.
- Find books which are interactive – there are some amazing lift the flap and pop up books for every preschool age. These Julia Donaldson stories for younger children are really engaging and fun: Tales From Acorn Wood, The Bedtime Bear, The Jolly Postman.
- Don’t think that because they can read competently themselves that once they’re 6, 7 or whatever that they want to you to stop reading to them. This is the time when, as your child becomes more emotionally and socially aware, you can use the stories as springboards for discussions which may even be initiated by your child’s concerns and worries.
- Finally, remember that there’s always time for one more. It takes a few extra minutes, but it’s a big deal to your child and will create positive associations for him/her with stories.
So, there’s my list, I hope you have found it helpful. I have started with one for small children because I really believe that sharing your love of reading when they are young is one of the most powerful things you can do. That’s not to say however that if you have an 8, 12 or 13 year old who you have never read to all hope is lost!! It is not. And over the next few weeks the tips I’ll be sharing will apply to all different ages to get them reading!
Thanks for reading.