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The truth about bedtime stories

The romantic idyll of cosying up for a bedtime read is not always quite as dreamy as you might think

Posted: 21 November 2012
by Catherine O'Dolan

Bedtime reading is one of the last great family institutions, but, like family dining, its populariy appears to be somewhat on the wane as time-pressured parents are eschewing their nightly duty. This is a shame, as the chance to snuggle up and get cosy with your child at the end of the day is the perfect opportunity for bonding.

But don't fall into the trap of thinking it will always be easy. "The classic notion of the bedtime story is usually envisaged idealistically, even sentimentally: dreamy child and adoring parent locked in a situation of wonder and rapport, with low lights and the rustling of night sounds all round," says Dorothy Butler, eminent lecturer and expert on children and reading. "You may achieve this (if you have household help, no other children and turn off all your phones). More probably, bedtime will be fairly hectic, with other family members making demands, nerves a little frayed all round, the child himself overtired and crochety..."

And yet it is still so worth making the effort for this time of closeness – not to mention the educational benefits of books for babies and young children, which are very well d ocumented. THere are also benefits of shared reading in emotional terms. It is a special time of intimacy, a bonding experience, and a lovely way to finish the day. So the message is clear: make the time as often as you can, and both you and your child will reap the rewards. 

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Reciting bedtime stories to children, in my opinion boosts their mental abilities. Now I just have to get working on my research papers as quickly as possible.

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