Benefits of Reading Bedtimes Stories to Children

Teeth brushed?  Check.  Pajamas on?  Check.  If your nightly routine includes bedtime stories, your child isn’t just trying to stall the inevitable.  This time-honored tradition also has special for benefits for parents and children, too.

Time to relax –
Chances are that you and your kiddos have both had busy days and need some time to wind down before bedtime.  Once bedtime routines are over, read in your child’s room if possible.  This helps make the transition to bed and sleep easier.  Use soft lighting and let your voice gently lull you both into a relaxed state of mind.

To help young children drift off to dreamland, choose bedtime stories that are more soothing than stirring, more mellow than mysterious.  A story with an abrupt or unexpected ending is troubling for little people that need to know WHY.  For older children, chapter books are a way of establishing an end-of-the-day routine with parents.  Remember, relaxation is the goal, not lots of mental stimulation.

Time to cuddle –
Bedtime stories give you a great opportunity to cuddle your child close and enjoy the physical contact it affords.  Touch can also be a stress-reliever and is extremely important to children.  But what if your child isn’t the cuddle-bug type?  

Simply sit elbow to elbow or shoulder to shoulder.  Another way of cuddling is to share a blanket or lap robe.  Choose something extra soft and attractive and keep it for bedtime stories only.  This way, your child connects it with preparing to sleep.  Once accustomed to this routine, just seeing or feeling the blanket can produce a level of relaxation before falling sleep.

Time to talk –
Depending on the type of story you’re reading, your child may have questions about what is happening in the story and why.  Children need to express their thoughts, even if it means stopping and starting the flow of reading now and then.  While they may not remember the name of a particular book in the future, they’ll likely remember your interpretation of it.

On the other hand, if your child is a big talker and continually interrupts or gets off topic, set the book aside and listen for a few moments.  Then pick the book back up, remind him it’s bedtime and you will only stay longer to read a book if he’s interested.  If not, you’ll tuck him in now.   As a parent, you know when your child is stalling, so draw a line between talking about the story itself and just putting off bedtime.

Time to dream –
Sometimes a story triggers the imagination and helps children dream up similar stories of their own.  That’s a good thing, because it means your child was actively listening and relating to the story line.  Let her interpret the book to match her own dreams.
You may also have ideas of your own – a way the two of you can mimic something you read in the story.  “It would be fun to live for a little while back in the days of Little House on the Prairie.  I bet you’d make a good neighbor to the Ingalls family.” or “Perhaps we can take a trip to a dude ranch someday.  I’ll gather some information about it, and we’ll see if it’s something we want to do, okay?”  

Relating to a bedtime story in this way is much less stimulating than lying awake to solve a mystery.  An idea or dream may inspire us to imagine what something would be like if it came to pass, but since we have not yet been there or experience it, we don’t know how to visualize it.   Children daydreaming of future possibilities will likely drift off to sleep.

There are many EW56B of reading bedtime storiesZ6EFP to children.  Our choice of stories is important, for they will imprint themselves upon young minds.  While they may become special to you and your child, they can never take the place of the time you spend relaxing, cuddling, talking and dreaming with your children.