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Bedtime stories, benefits for children



SHARING the magic of bedtime stories is a tradition that parents should endeavour to protect. In the fast paced world we now inhabit, parents have to juggle the demands of work, the needs of children and spouses, and the need to replenish one’s own resources. The outcome is nearly always feeling overly tired, yet, it is even more necessary to find time to connect with the children.

  Reading to a child at bedtime can become a wonderfully restorative space to stimulate their imagination whilst reconnecting the parent to a place of wonder, energy and liveliness that can often recharge depleted batteries.A very important bedtime ritual is reading bedtime stories.This cozy ritual does more than prepare children for sleep,but there are a multitude of other benefits.

  Airing her view on the benefits of reading bedtime stories to children/wards, Mrs Benedette Onyenwe, a caregiver in one of the crèches in Awka Metropolis said “Neural research have shown that when parents and caregivers interact verbally with children which includes reading to them, kids learn a great deal more than we ever thought possible. These gains range from improved logic skills to lower stress levels. But perhaps, the most profound benefit discovered in recent years is the way bedtime stories can rewire children’s brains to quicken their mastery of language. Therefore, it will not be out of place to say that reading to children is majorly beneficial to their development.

  “Reading to a child is by no means a chore. Reading together at bedtime also reduces stress. Being exposed to the wonderful world of stories from a young age strengthens cognitive development and helps children develop their narrative comprehension and mental images. It will also prepare children for school and in many ways, give them a head start. Words are a gateway to so many places both real and imaginary. Getting to know and recognise letter sounds, words and language from an early age is a great key to ensuring success in learning as they get older. Every teacher out there will agree with me that children who read more extensively become better writers, and better writers, in turn, become better readers, and a child will not flourish without the other. Through positive modelling, parents can teach their children the value of reading, and make them develop magnificent love for books which lights fire to their imagination, while also developing and strengthening emotional and social development, and all these can start with reading with them at bedtime”.

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  In her own part, Mrs Chinwe Onyenze said, “bedtime stories have long been known to foster parent-child bonds and prepare children for sleep. But lately, researchers have attached other powers to this nighttime routine. They say that while you and your little one are sailing with Max to the land of the Wild Things or sampling green eggs with Sam, you’re actually boosting your child’s brain development. It does not only enhance children’s learning abilities, but also makes them develop great imaginations and enhances creativity in them. Other benefits of bedtime stories include:

  Deeper understanding of the world–storytelling is fun and exciting, but also enables anyone to experience different cultures and traditions. Children learn new information about the world without even realising, and as a result, develop greater empathy.

  Development of imagination–reading fictional stories to children encourages them to use their imagination and picture the scene in their head.

  Parent-child bonding–reading to your child is quality time for both you and them, helping to foster a positive relationship.

  Communication and social skills–reading bedtime stories helps children’s communication skills grow immensely. They ask questions about the story, while also learning new vocabulary and increasing their focus. Socially, children learn to listen to others through storytelling, and begin to understand that not everyone interprets things the same way.

  More likely to read for pleasure–reading to children when they are young means they are more likely to continue reading for pleasure as they grow. This will enable them to learn independently from books”.

  Still on the benefits of bedtime stories, Mrs Ezeobele Cecilia, a public servant and a young mother said “perhaps the most profound benefit discovered in recent years is the way bedtime stories can rewire children’s brains to quicken their mastery of languages and thus, open the door to writing.The first big one is that bedtime stories increase the ability of children in visual processing and imagination.Kids get better at imagining things because they have to interpret a story when it is read aloud. Children learn the power of their imagination which helps them become independent readers later on with books that do not have pictures because their imaginations are developed enough to draw them in.

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  “The next big advantage of bedtime stories is in children’s mastery of language skills, because books typically use a greater diversity of words than just everyday vocabulary. We tend to use the same vocabulary all the time so children learn a more sophisticated vocabulary if they read widely from different genres of books. Finally, reading generally helps in developing children’s curiosity because it makes them learn more about the world. They become more inquisitive. Reading promotes more reading because they start to want to find other books that have stories that invoke their imaginations. Children can also ask and answer questions when you are sitting and reading to them, so it stimulates new conversations. Children start to learn about their world and they can understand life events. Sometimes, scary things might worry them, but they can understand it in safe ways when they learn through characters.”

  Speaking on what makes perfect bedtime stories, Mr Johnson Umeadi, a primary school teacher and a father of two young children said “the book itself is important because it must engage the child, but it is more than that. If you are sitting with your children and spending time with them, of course, it draws them into the story, but really, it is the relationship that counts. Most kids value that one-on-one time with their parents, so it is good to invest in that time without the distraction of technology or your own work. They know it is their time and that is really precious. Aside from picking a good story, it is important to sit close to your child as many love to snuggle and they probably also find listening to their parent’s voice to be quite soothing. This also gives you an opportunity to bond with your child even if you are at a tricky patch in your relationship.

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  “But then, reading at bedtime is not something that should stop once your kids learn to read on their own. In fact, studies show that keeping up with your bedtime reading routine is beneficial for your children’s reading abilities as well as your relationship with them. But picking the perfect book can be hard. So, in picking bedtime story books, parents should look out for these qualities:

  The book must have compelling illustrations and pictures. Pictures can offer a great transition aid as kids move on from picture books to chapter books to reading novels — plus, they foster creativity and innovative ideas.

  Again, it must contain important messages that will always teach our kids core values and books often give a great opportunity to reinforce important life lessons and provide a moment to talk about situations where these values come into play. The book must also contain narratives that can be read out loud. You can take turns reading with your children, alternating pages or chapters, and so build your children’s confidence and enhance their vocabulary.

  The book must be timeless. You and your child can read it together and then your child can read it over again, making it a staple in your library and nightly routine. This will help exercise consistency while also creating tradition!

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