For many children, getting a story (or two, three or four) before bedtime is a beloved and cherished ritual. Not only does it help to forge loving familial bonds, but it also provides youngsters with the best opportunities to develop linguistically and cultivate a lifelong love of books.
Reading bedtime stories with your children is not just a pleasant way to spend time together, but a fundamental way to enrich their social, literary and educational experiences. In this article, we list several of the most important reasons why bedtime stories are so important for you, your youngster and the whole family.
It helps them use their imagination
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that when children between three and five years old were read to, their brains showed higher levels of activity supporting mental imagery and narrative comprehension.
This means that bedtime stories foster anatomical development that helps children to be more imaginative thinkers. Unlike moving pictures, which provide imagery for them, stories force children to use their imagination to visualise the story in their heads as a way of understanding the narrative.
It grows their vocabulary
Just as having a greater number of people to speak to your children exposes them to more words, children who get bedtime stories understand more words than those who do not. This is called a ‘receptive’ vocabulary and the bigger it is, the more words that they will repeat as their vocal abilities improve.
It enriches their communication skills
Reading bedtime stories allows children to develop strong language skills. In order to understand the story, they must listen to follow the sequence of events, listen to the dialogue and learn about the characters.
When you discuss the story afterwards, or even ask questions as you are reading, you are also encouraging an open discussion where the children will be comfortable speaking their thoughts aloud.
It strengthens familial bonds
It can be hard for parents to schedule quality time with their children but one of the best ways to bond is through a shared love of storytelling.
When you engage with a fun, exciting or thought-provoking story, not only are you sharing an enjoyable experience and developing positive memories, but you are also learning from each other and growing in the process.
It provides an outlet for empathy
Learning about the scope of human experiences, especially those beyond our own, is a great way to develop community-minded emotions like empathy.
Fictional characters, through their actions and words, allow us to think about how we might behave in a similar situation, or provide life skills for future opportunities.
When young people get bedtime stories, not only do they get a chance to explore feelings and emotions, but they are also exposed to the words that can help them express these emotions.
It enriches their language development
One of the most obvious benefits of reading bedtime stories is language development. Not only will it improve overall literacy, but it will also allow them to develop strong reading comprehension skills and the ability to listen and concentrate for dedicated periods of time.
And the best part is that once children start to read on their own, you can continue to foster the love of reading with new and interesting stories.
Being a parent can be busy at the best of times. Having a dedicated slot of time at the end of the day to relax, share a story and talk with your child is a great way to spend a few precious moments together. And now that you know how important, fun and beneficial this can be, there’s nothing stopping you!