According to an American survey by Reading Is Fundamental, bedtime stories are becoming a thing of the past. Nearly 2/3 of survey respondents claimed they did not regularly read bedtime stories with their children; the nightly ritual having been replaced by phone or tablet use. A British survey had similar results.
Multiple studies have proven the importance of reading to your child, especially at bedtime. This reading ritual offers so many benefits, including improving reading readiness and comprehension by exposing children to vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. It sparks the imagination and encourages a love of reading. It can build empathy as well as foster communication and bonding, which to me, is the most important benefit. The time spent together, cuddling on the sofa or in bed, sharing stories and talking about them, can lead to conversations you might not otherwise have had. The relaxed atmosphere of this together time could lead your child to open up about their day or things that are worrying them in a way that direct questioning might not.
Don’t wait till your child is verbal to start reading stories. Babies and toddlers love stories too, and a story (or two or three!) is a calming addition to the bedtime routine. The library has some great board books, which are perfect for your youngest listeners. One of my grandson’s favorites is Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora.
During summer, when school is out and families are typically more relaxed, is a wonderful time to establish a read aloud routine. So, take a few minutes at the end of each day to read one-on-one with your child. Not only will it benefit your child, it will help you relax and wind down as well. Try tapping into your inner actor; ham it up with silly voices and funny noises. Have some fun!
Here are a few silly stories to get you started:
The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
And don’t think that once your child can read on their own that you are off the hook. Older children and even adults enjoy being read to. (What is an audiobook after all, but a read aloud?) A fun chapter book to read with your child is The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin.
Ditch the device, grab a book, sit down with your child tonight, and read a bedtime story. It will soon become a treasured family tradition.