Many of us have fond memories of our parents reading stories to us at bedtime. These days, however, this ritual tends to fall victim to parents’ lack of time or even lack of self-confidence, according to a survey carried out by the Ladybird publishing house and reported by The Bookseller.
Three quarters of respondents would like to have more time to read a bedtime story to their toddlers. A similar proportion of parents favour children’s traditional bedtime hours, between 6pm and 8pm, for undertaking this activity and feel that other times of day are not appropriate.
However, 17% of those surveyed would consider reading to their children in the morning, between 8am and 10 am. This alternative may be possible for more mums and dads than before thanks to the general deployment of remote working.
Despite these differences of opinion, the parents are almost unanimous in seeing the practice of reading stories to toddlers as beneficial. Most believe this activity enables them to spend quality time with their children (81%), while 68% even see it as a way of strengthening the emotional bond between them.
But that’s not the only advantage of reading aloud: a number of studies have shown that this activity helps with children’s development of language skills and stimulates their auditory memory.
What’s more, it awakens in young ones a taste for reading, which is beneficial to cognition, intellect and behaviour. It also involves brain mechanisms that children can benefit from as they grow older, according to a study published in the journal Psychology Medicine.
‘No right or wrong way’
Generally speaking, 93% of parents think it’s essential to read stories to children. Ladybird’s survey shows, however, that some adults are reluctant to read to children under a year old because of their very young age.
Others lack self-confidence, fearing they won’t be able to do it properly and, above all, that they won’t be able to interpret the various characters in the story well. This is a fear they can and should dismiss, according to UK writer-performer Lucy Walters.
“Your little one loves the sound of your voice, the special moment of you and them sharing the story together… following the words, pointing at the pictures, and joining in with the story through the bumps and bends,” she told The Bookseller.
“There is no right or wrong way to read a story. You being you is more than enough for your little one.”