Hmm, you may not have been aware that it even needed bringing back. I wasn’t, but according to a study out this week, only 1 in 5 parents read their children a bedtime story each night. Really? I was quite shocked. It’s never occurred to me not to read to them at bedtime, and both of mine have had bedtime stories since they were babies.
I know I’ve written before about my thoughts and feelings on reading to my children and the impact that that can have. I supported Save the Children’s Born to Read and Read On Get On campaigns, and I’d say my first papery love was books and I want to do all that I can to foster that love within my children, too. I’m not in the majority, though, it seems….
Here are a few of the facts from the study:
15 per cent said they read to their children only once every two months
In 60 days, there is only one day where there is time to read a five minute tale? I do know life can be busy, but that’s a lot of time to struggle to find a few minutes.
Three quarters of women said it was the most stressful activity of their day
Huh? What an easy life they must lead!
17 per cent admitted they’d rather put their child in front of the television than read them a book.
My kids like the TV, too, as do I. But there’s no way a bedtime story ever gets substituted by a TV show. It’s not the same thing, they are not interchangeable.
A third of parents prefer socialising with their friends to reading with their children.*
I have no words.
And yet, ‘As many as 65 per cent of those questioned said they wished they had more time for bedtime stories‘. That’s a lot of people wishing and hoping for more time. Then make the time. Yes, I make it sound so simple, don’t I? I kind of do fall into that ‘then just do it’ category with this one, to be honest. It takes just a few minutes a day. And if they can’t commit to that every day at first, make it every other day, it’s still an improvement, isn’t it? If there’s a lack of confidence, then there can be practice, and I’m pretty certain the kids won’t be worrying about it anyway, they’ll just be enjoying the story. Words for Life is a great website, provided by the National Literacy Trust, that gives ideas of key milestones, suggested activities and tips for reading.
I believe that one of the most valuable gifts that I can give to my children is reading to them. It helps them hugely educationally, sets them up with a cheap and ever-lasting hobby for life, and it’s simply a lovely activity to share. The Husband and I take it in turns to read to each child every night, and sometimes, we all have a story together, too. We get to explore other worlds with each other, go off on intrepid adventures, giggle over silliness and smile at happy endings. Whether it be reading familiar old favourites that the kids like to recite with me, or the excitement of a brand new tale, bedtime stories are always enjoyed here.
Young children who are read to have a greater vocabulary, and phonological and letter awareness than those who are not. This not only sets them up well for school and the beginning of their reading life, but it is also an indicator that they will have more enthusiasm for reading and learning throughout their schooling. Children who read well by 11 do better at school, get better exam results and do better in the workplace – they’re also best placed to give their own children the best start in life. (Read On Get On)
I don’t know what stops people from doing this, and I know everyone’s lives are different. I don’t judge parents (*well, OK, maybe I judge the socialising third for that comment above) I just ask, surely they can fit one story in, just one more time than they normally would this week? Five minutes and the start of a new habit, a new moment with a child. If it’s a road to regular reading, they won’t only be doing them a huge favour by improving their future literacy and academic acumen, they’ll also be creating precious moments to treasure with their children, too. It’s kind of win win, isn’t it?
It’s a fundamental #BringBackPaper, isn’t it? Please get those bedtime stories being read again and enjoy that paper together.