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Why the Demise of Bedtime Stories is Sad.

I was astonished today to read in the Guardian that parents are not reading bedtime stories to their children.    A Littlewood's survey of 2000 mothers revealed only 64% read bedtime stories to their children, and only 13% on a regular basis.  87% of the parents of the survey believed that bedtime reading is vital to their children’s education and development.

What I want to explore are the reason if there is a recognition of the value of bed time stories, but the inability to fulfil what generations have practiced what are the barriers.  Then what are the potential consequences and share the routine I have with my two.

The Problem

The survey by Littlewoods found that 9% felt too stressed and 13% did not have enough time, but these percentages are tiny.  Over half of the children wanted to play with the TV, Computer or other toys instead.  In reality the problem may be a combination of both.   The National Partnership Survey November 2012 found 80% of working women and 72%of working men said they, their neighbours or their friends face hardships when managing work, family and personal responsibilities.  This is the exact problem WHATIFPA want to address.  If parents are struggling the path of least resistance to use passive entertainment may be easier.  It may be easier to let children divert their attention to the TV or computer.  Where as 91% of the Littlewoods sample were read bedtime stories by their parents.  The time needs to be given to parents to make it easier to juggle, so that they can have the energy to make the effort that generations before us had made.

The Benefits of Reading

Research by Yvonne Kelly PhD found a link between a regular bedtime routine and cognitive abilities at 3, 5 and 7 years.  For example, at age 7, not having a regular bedtime was associated with significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.22), math (beta -0.26), and spatial abilities (beta -0.15) among girls. There were no significant relationships among boys.

Researchers from five universities and from Mathematica Policy Research Inc., in Princeton, N.J., found that when English-speaking mothers in low-income households read to their very young children, the youngsters had greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive scores before the age of 2, compared with toddlers who were not read to very often.  Reading develops language.  Reading both oral and written develops meaning.

Our Routine

My 2-year-old daughter loves books on average she wants 5 short stories a night, and she also loves puzzles.  My 9-month-old son loves touching the colourful story books, and singing.

After bath time the first thing they will want to do in their rooms is do a puzzle.  Then she chooses books in Danish and English.  Some favourites are Jungle Book, The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s child.  The Snail and the Whale, The Princess and the Wizard, What the Lady Bird Heard, Peek a Boo books, Danish and English Nursery Rhymes.


As well as WHATIFPA, my doctorate is in the Development of Talent in Children, so this is an area that I am passionate about.


Reading to Toddlers Could Boost Literacy. By: Jacobson, Linda, Education Week, 02774232, 7/26/2006, Vol. 25, Issue 43

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