10 reasons why reading bedtime stories should be part of your daily routine

Children are naturally inquisitive about everything
Children are naturally inquisitive about everything

All cosy and ready for bed is the perfect time to read to your children. This is one of the times they are most receptive and their wonderful little minds are open to all of the fascinating stories you have to read. To help with your child's linguistic development, this should become a daily ritual in your household.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said it perfectly: "Reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development and strengthens parent-child relationships at a critical time in child development, which, in turn, builds language, literacy, and social-emotional skills that last a lifetime." 

Let's break it down, shall we? 

Do you read to your children at bedtime? What do you enjoy most about it? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments or stories. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

Linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath describes reading bedtime stories to your child as a major "literacy event", which is basically the interaction with a text that results in verbal communication, allowing your child to become linguistically enriched.

She conducted a study called What No Bedtime Story Means, in which she observes three different literate communities and how the socio-cultural attitude towards bedtime stories affects a child's literacy proficiency.

Heath discusses "ways of taking" from books, which is essentially what children gain from books and the experience of being read to. She says that taking from books is a "learned behaviour" in the same way that eating, sitting, playing games, etc. is for children – "the means of making sense from books and relating their contents to knowledge about the real world."

One of the best ways for children to "take from books" is being exposed to them daily.

Also see: 5 tips to win at reading to your children

Here are some of the things children "take from books" and the advantages of reading to them at bedtime:

1. "What-questions"

Children are naturally inquisitive about... everything really, which is a great thing! Shirley Brice Heath discusses the importance of children forming "what-questions" through reading.

Reading books with pictures allows them to engage in conversation with parents and point certain things out, asking what-questions. Parents can also play the labeling game where they point things out and ask children to name them.

From asking "what-questions", children are then able to learn the meaning of things and go more in-depth. "When children begin to verbalise about the contents of books, adults extend their questions from simple requests for labels (What's that? Who's that?) to ask about the attributes of these items (What does the doggie say? What colour is the ball?)." 

Find beautiful local bedtime stories to download and read right here on Parent24 - Browse Storytime now

2. Increased vocabulary, improved spelling

Children who are read to have a broader vocabulary as they are always being exposed to new words. Their spelling skills also improve since they are seeing how things are spelled as you pronounce them. It's good to have your children follow along on the page as you read for this reason.

3. Quality time and parental connection

Reading to your child every night is a phenomenal way to spend time and bond with them without any distractions. Growing closer to literature and mommy or daddy all at once, a real win-win situation!

Looking for amazing new reading material to enjoy with your child? Visit Nali'Bali for free, beautifully illustrated stories, for Africans by Africans. If you'd like to volunteer and get involved in the writing, design or illustrative process, visit Book Dash, where you can help change the world, one book at a time.

4. Developing a love for reading

When children are exposed to reading from a young age and have parents who encourage it and make it fun, they grow to love reading and are more likely to continue reading as they grow up. A love for reading is such a benefit as it's like getting a head start to learning in the schooling environment.

5. Curiosity for knowledge

When children are constantly reading new and different stories, it opens up their minds to a world of possibility. They're constantly inquisitive about things around them and their thirst for knowledge allows them to constantly be learning.

6. Boosts imagination and creativity

Children are naturally imaginative as is, but when they are introduced to all these whimsical characters and storylines that books have to offer, their imagination and creativity is endless. They also improve on their narrative skills, which helps them in school with essay writing or comprehension skills.

7. Entertainment 

Heath states that preschool children are especially accepting of "books and book-related activities as entertainment". Children who find reading entertaining will always gravitate towards it, and that's what we want, children who love and make time for reading!

8. Memory and concentration 

Since reading is a mentally-stimulating exercise, it improves your child's cognitive skills. Children also typically perform better in school because of this.

9. Healing and compassion

Life may not always be a bed of roses, and reading about other children going through hardships, or even experiencing emotions, may be comforting and even cathartic to children. They learn about life with certain challenges that they don't know themselves, helping to increase compassion and understanding in this world.

10. Discovery

Books also open up new worlds, countries, cultures, lifestyles, and adventures that your child may never otherwise get to know. Ignite the wanderlust and open your child's eyes to the rest of the world, even if they grow up in Putsonderpaddas.

Do you read to your children at bedtime? What do you enjoy most about it? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments or stories. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

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