The Importance of Bedtime Reading
It can be tough in busy, adult life to find time to read. Often the key is to create a daily routine, picking up a book at the same convenient time, every day. For your child, routine is especially important and as the parent, that routine must come from you.
Bedtime reading has a huge number of benefits from improved vocabulary and attention span, to the intimate, calm time which improves the child’s capacity for emotions like love and trust.
“There’s a clear indication of a neurological difference between kids who have been regularly read to and kids who have not,” says G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D., chief of the child development and behaviour branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD.
The benefits are multi-faceted in that not only can your child learn from the contents of the book but also from the activity of reading itself.
Here are a few steps to help generate a love of reading from your child:
- Make reading a part of every night’s bedtime routine and don’t skip on it. If it’s getting late, choose a shorter book but don’t rush, remember this is calm time.
- Engage, bedtime reading shouldn’t be passive. Sure, pre-reading age, you will be the one saying the words. However, pointing out things from the text that are also shown in the pictures, helps children with association. Putting on voices for different characters is fun and will help your child’s imagination to bring the story to life.
- Let them choose. Even as adults we have favourite books that we hold dear, so let your child choose which story he or she wants each night. Yes, this might lead to the same few books being read over and over but repetition allows them to recognise patterns and sequences which can help develop logic skills.
- Make new books a treat. Aside from the fact books are often cheaper than the latest toy, you will likely more value and learning from them. They are certainly healthier than sweets! If your child has been good, reward them with a trip to a local bookstore where (with a little guidance), they can pick a new book for bedtime reading.
It’s vital that you continue to encourage your children with reading as they progress. It can be a hard jump from cosy, bedtime reading at home, to having to read in class or bringing home set reading that “has” to be done as homework. Children who struggle with reading or start to recognise they are behind their peers, can easily associate reading as something they are bad at and will not want to do it. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this but as much as you can try, keep reading fun. Finally, don’t forget to lead by example and find some quiet time with a book of your own!