Once upon a time, children would prepare themselves for sleep, crawl into their beds and wait for their parents to read a book as they fell asleep. The classic fairytale stories, imaginative books with cartoon drawings and more were piled high next to their bed waiting to be read each night.
Much like the protagonist in these stories who face a conflict, bedtime stories are facing their own issue: They’re dying. A recent study revealed a third of parents never read a story to their children at night and that 4 percent of children do not own a single book. Also, a 2010 UK study revealed 55.7 percent of primary school teachers have taught children who have never been read a story.
As bedtime stories are diminishing, so are the benefits the children receive from them. Reading to a child before bedtime is proven to boost academic achievement. As reading is introduced into a child’s daily life, they’ll have an internal motivation to read as they get older. Research found that children who read for fun are more likely to do better in math and English than those who rarely pick up a book.
Reading is essential in helping children develop as writers. Pie Corbett, a literary expert and former primary school head teacher, said:
Every teacher knows the best writers, the most proficient writers, are always readers. It not only gives children language, it also develops their imaginations.
Why are bedtime stories dying?
The majority of parents said lack of time and stress prevent them from being able to read to their children each night. Many also said their children prefer television, toys and computer games to books. But parents need to remember that this time with their
child is also about spending time together and growing together.
Bedtime stories aren’t just for educational benefits. Most times, stories are perfectly crafted with an emotional life lesson that will be subconsciously instilled. These lessons are relative to youth and adults like the following from some of my favourite childhood books:
- Where the Wild Things Are, Mauric Sendak: There are monsters in the world all around us, but you can take control of any situation you’re in, overcome the monsters, and return to a place that’s safe.
- The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein: We all grow old but we grow old together. We should be thankful for where we come from and where we end up.
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst: Things don’t always go our way but in the end, everything will be okay.
With so many benefits to bedtime stories, it’s our duty to make time for our children. These days there are so many ways to acquire stories – bookstores have large sections for children, libraries are often free and are overflowing with resources, and, thanks to technology, e-books and electronic stories are also at our disposal.
So the next time your child is getting ready for bed, remember what you did during your childhood (a survey said 91 percent of parents were read bedtime stories as a child)). Pick a book from the pile next to the bed and read your child to sleep.
I have so many memories of stories my parents read to me. What are some of your favourite books from your childhood?