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?
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.
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!
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?
- It allows you to fit one more reading session in for the day.
- 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!
- It establishes a firm habit of daily reading.
- It can be a wonderful time to gently discuss life lessons, process feelings, or deal with daily difficulties.
- 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?
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:
- Top Bedtime Books for Little Ones
- 5-Minute Adventure Bible Stories
- The Berenstain Bears: 5-Minute Inspirational Stories
- Bedtime Read & Rhyme Bible Stories
- 31 Days of Picture Books for Everyone
- Good Night Tales (this is a brand-new book full of original stories that I’m reviewing over at Syncopated Mama today!)
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.