Bedtime stories are on the decline, so says the latest research by Booktrust, with many parents admitting to either forgoing them entirely, or sometimes skipping pages.
Time seems to be the main stumbling block, with the often rushed nature of bedtime routines leaving little opportunity for this important ritual.
Reading is as important now as it’s ever been, so finding a way to make it work within our increasingly busy lives is critical. Luckily, bedtime stories are just one way of harnessing the benefits of books.
Some other ways to introduce imagination and learning through stories are:
Many local libraries run these types of classes, and they are useful for teaching the interactive and social aspect of books.
⏰ Short stories
A story can be as long as a book, or as short as a rhyme. Nursery songs also tell a story, so singing to baby during a bath or nappy change can be equally helpful in imparting language and learning. One company which has this concept as their ethos is @mumandyou, whose nappies are all designed to inspire ‘nappy chat’ and impromptu storytime. This little and often approach to reading can be as helpful, if not more, than one longer book at bedtime. Think quality, not quantity, particularly if time is a scarce commodity.
As much as we resist the digital age and the over-reliance on screen time, it does have some benefits, particularly in the case of storytime apps such as the one by @cbeebieshq, which allows older children to benefit from being read to aloud regularly outside of the usual bedtime or nursery context.
Parents shouldn’t necessarily carry all the reading responsibility. Asking an older sibling to read a book to their younger sister or brother gives them a sense of responsibility and is one way of introducing more books into both children’s daily routine.
What are the benefits?
Reading to babies and children contributes to the development of their growing brains by imparting basic information and knowledge of speech patterns, which in turn can help with language development.
When you read aloud, it encourages synapses to connect between your infant's neurons, which can positively affect their development in many areas.
Stories read by a main caregiver or parent are particularly important as children tune in to the rhythm of their voice and how the sounds of language fit together, and their association with pictures. The more you read a particular book, the stronger the connection, as repetition make the associations easier to remember, building their understanding and speaking vocabulary.