Since launching Storytime Magazine, we’ve been asked lots of questions by parents who are unsure of the what, when, why and how of reading bedtime stories to their children. Here, we answer 5 of your most frequently asked questions – we hope it helps!
1. When should I start reading bedtime stories to my children?
Evidence shows that the sooner you start reading to your child, the better. In fact, reading to babies can help them to build early sound recognition and enhance their language development – with the added benefit of bonding. From newborn up to six months, you can read almost anything you think is appropriate, as the emphasis is on your baby hearing you read. As they progress to your lap and become more interactive, try board and fabric books with textures, mirrors and bold, high-contrast images. By six months, you can move onto books with shapes, colours and faces and, by 12 months, opt for books with simple images and watch your baby follow your finger as you point out the pictures!
2. What’s the best time to read bedtime stories?
Be guided by your child’s mood and tiredness level on this. Forcing an exhausted child to stay awake for stories will quickly forge a negative association with reading. A good bedtime story should ease them into the idea of going to bed, so instead of doing it once your child has settled down, you could try it before bath-time or even before putting on pyjamas – you are the best person to judge it. Also, be aware that sometimes it takes a few attempts to find a routine that works for you. Don’t give up too quickly.
3. How many bedtime stories do you recommend reading?
Think about it in length of time, rather than number of stories. The UK’s leading reading charity Booktrust recommends reading to your child for 10 minutes every day, but experts in the USA recommend 15 minutes. Our guideline is to aim for 10 minutes for children under the age of three and to gradually increase this to 20 or 30 minutes as they get older and you move onto longer texts, such as early chapter books. Don’t forget to bring your bedtime story slot forward when you do this though!
4. What are the best bedtime stories to read?
The best bedtime stories are the ones your child asks for again and again (even if it drives you mad!). In this scenario, focus on the fact that they’ve found a book they love and a passion for stories, and do your best to grin and bear it. Or ask an expert (such as Boolino) for books with a similar vibe. As a starting point, kids tend to love stories with the following popular themes, which we try to put into every Storytime issue:
- Humour – the more laughs the better.
- Characters facing fears or problems that children can relate to, like being scared of the dark, learning to share, naughty behaviour, starting a new school, or even disliking certain foods.
- Popular characters, like dinosaurs, pirates, fairies and animals.
- Imaginary places or worlds, which kids can explore, like outer space.
- Classic fairy tales, myths and legends.
5. At what age should I stop reading bedtime stories?
As long as your child enjoys having stories read to them, there’s really no reason to stop, and there’s even evidence that stopping reading to your child too early could have a negative effect on their reading ability.
The longer you continue reading bedtime stories, the more your child can learn from you about expression, tone, building tension, and pronouncing new words. And, before you know it, your child will be reading to you! Our best advice is to read to your child for as long as you can.
We believe that bedtime stories are important for so many reasons – not just for developing early language and literacy skills and boosting vocabulary. They encourage togetherness, make happy memories, promote creativity and imagination, foster a greater understanding of other people’s needs and, perhaps most useful of all, they help kids to fall in love with reading – a good habit for life. Something definitely worth making time for!
Good luck and make the most of your story times,
From the Storytime Team
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Storytime Magazine · Storytime Magazine News
Storytime is a kids’ magazine full of great stories. It’s packed with fairy tales, myths, poems, and much more – all beautifully written and illustrated, with puzzles, games and colouring in too! There are no adverts, and each issue arrives in a special envelope, so children have the excitement of receiving their own post!