The Benefits of Bedtime Stories for Preschoolers

The bedtime story has been a nighttime staple in families across the ages, but why? Is it just something we do because it’s always been done, or are there specific benefits of this reading ritual for our children?

Bedtime Story Benefits

I’m sure you’ve heard about the studies showing that speaking to our children often is as important to their development as feeding them, right?

Well, reading quality books to them at night is a great way to get more of that fabulous language into their heads each day!

Bedtime stories change their brains

Would you believe that bedtime stories can actually rewire the brain and allow for faster mastery of language?

This is because children learn to process language more quickly, allowing their brains to be freed up for other tasks.

And the thing is, this benefit doesn’t merely come from hearing words. No, overhearing something or watching television does not have the same effect as a bedtime book – especially one that fires up a child’s imagination and requires their memory to be engaged in order to follow the plot.

Bedtime Story Benefits

Stories at bedtime change their inner dictionary

Another benefit of bedtime stories is that they can build a child’s inner dictionary by introducing ideas and objects outside of their direct environment.

We live all the way down here in hot Florida, where many kids never see snow in person, but that won’t stop my Gv from understanding what snow is after being introduced to the concept over and over again through books.

Engaging with books opens your child up to unique experiences he or she might never otherwise have and all of that prior knowledge will be so helpful once your little one enters the school years!

It strengthens the parent-child bond

This nightly ritual is a special activity for you to share with your child. Snuggling up together with a great book not only increases the warm-fuzzy factor between you and your child, but it lengthens attention spans, as well!

Feeling a bit tired of reading the same stories, over and over? Sorry, but repeated reading is actually really helpful!

Bedtime Story Benefits

Children start to notice patterns and sequences, learn to make predictions and expand other fundamental reading comprehension skills through hearing the same book read to them over and over.

And don’t be tempted to toss this routine out the window once your child starts reading on his or her own. Believe it or not, all of the bedtime-story benefits actually continue well into your child’s older years!

Reading to kids should be done at night

Many of these benefits come from reading aloud to children in general, but does it really need to be done at night?

Yes!

Bedtime Story Benefits

  1. It allows you to fit one more reading session in for the day.
  2. It lowers cortisol levels as you snuggle with your child – what better way to send them off to dreamland than after a comforting reading session in bed!
  3. It establishes a firm habit of daily reading.
  4. It can be a wonderful time to gently discuss life lessons, process feelings, or deal with daily difficulties.
  5. It gives working dads (or moms!) an opportunity to connect since that might not be possible during the day.

Now that you’re ready to institute a regular bedtime reading routine in your house, do you have any idea what you will read?

Bedtime Story Benefits

I’ve got several resources for you to explore. Not only do they share our family’s top bedtime books, but some of the newest, perfect-for-nighttime books that have come out in the last year or two:

Are bedtime stories already a part of your nightly routine?  I’d love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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  • Erika says:

    Some of our favorite picture books: A Visitor for Bear; What to Do With a Box (Yolen); Do Like a Duck Does.

    • I haven’t heard of any of those before, Erika. Thanks for letting me know about them so I can go check them out!

  • Amber says:

    My boys love Chris Van Dusen books like, If I Built a House.

  • Those look like fun books, Amber! I’ll have to check them out!

  • Tk says:

    I actually have the habit of telling oral stories to my girls at bed time. I like to make up stories of my own that deal with issues my kids are going through. They lov it and would literally cry if I try to skip it some night ?

    • That is SO neat and wow, you have a great talent to be able to come up with stories like that! I can read forever and I can personalize a story I already know, but I’m not so hot at coming up with new stories like you do!

  • Evelyn says:

    My daughters LOVE 365 Read-Aloud Bedtime Bible Stories and Once Upon a Time Saints

  • Elise says:

    This is such a great post! I don’t have preschoolers anymore, but I wanted to chime in and say that I’ve been reading to my 2 girls every night at bedtime for their entire lives, and I want to encourage others to not only do it, but not to stop when they’re older! “Couch time” has become such an integral part of our daily routine that we ALL miss on those rare days when life happens and we (gasp!) have to skip. My girls are now 6 and 10, and they still love it. My 10-yr-old reads a picture book aloud that her sister chooses, and then I read a chapter book aloud that we can all enjoy. I used to worry that my younger one would lose interest in the chapter books, since we tend to choose ones that are meant for “big kids” or even “young adults”, but she’s constantly surprising me with what she remembers, and if she falls asleep on my lap (which happens sometimes), she’ll ask us in the morning what she missed! And as you mentioned above, nighttime is a natural time for kids to process their feelings about their day, or about life in general, so our “couch time” has led to some rich and meaningful conversations over the years that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Soooo worth it!

    • Yay! It sounds like you and your girls have already been reaping the benefits of this practice — that’s so awesome to hear! Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing how things look in your family, Elise!

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