Have you heard people say, “The kids today have short attention spans because of electronics and quick-paced television for kids”? It’s true they’re used to watching three to four-second bytes and they enjoy fast-paced computer games, but to date I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like to be read to.
As I sat in the Kelso Amtrak station waiting for a train that was 38 minutes late, I watched a grandmother read Curious George to her five-year-old grandson.
From my vantage point, she appeared to be a rather listless reader, void of expression, sound effects and lifted eyebrows accompanying some of Hans’ and Margaret’s incredible thoughts, yet the child was glued to his grandma’s side listening to the story!
When she was finished reading the book, I thought for sure he’d get up and run around the waiting room, but instead, he pulled another book from his backpack and she proceeded to read it in the same dreary way. The train turned out to be an hour late and the child remained interested in books the entire time. So much for short attention spans and quick-paced actions to keep a child’s attention.
So here are what I believe are 7 benefits of reading bedtime stories to your children.
Now that visual stimulation is served up via television, IPads, IPhones, Xbox etc., children rarely get to tap into their imaginations unless we read to them, or until they can read. As a child, I loved radio (it was before we had television) because my imagination provided the visuals. Because we don’t have kid radio, unless we read to our kids, their ability to use their precious imaginations and be able to visualize will weaken.
I remember one Christmas, my daughter Peggy bought a bunch of children’s books at a neighborhood garage sale and recorded reading them on a cassette tape recorder for her non-reading cousins as gifts for Christmas. As adults, those cousins still speak of how they loved her gifts of being read to.
My husband Terry and I recorded books on CDs, the same way Peggy did with a cassette recorder. This way our grandchildren could listen to us read the books we gave them as gifts.
2. Creates a Bond
For me, there was nothing cozier than to listen to my mom or dad read to me when I was a child. As a mom, that same cozy, loving feeling was present when I read to my children. This photo is of my son Michael, reading to his daughter Brooklyn and his nephew Maurice. I can see the joy of reading on Michael’s face.
I also discovered reading to my children was a great way to get them to fall asleep just by lowering my energy level and reading in a monotone when I could see they’re eyelids were beginning to droop.
3. Encourages Love for Reading
I can still see Michael when he was about three-years-old sitting with a picture book (he loved Winnie the Pooh) pretending to read. Sometimes I swear he sounded just like me reading, emphasizing a certain word, laughing at the same places I’d laugh, sighing when a page that required a sigh turned up. (Unfortunately, for me, at that age, he loved to look at books up-side-down and I was so worried he was dyslectic. It turned out he wasn’t afflicted with that condition, but he did end up becoming a lawyer. I’m not saying you should worry about your child if he likes to look at books up-side-down, just stay on top of it.
I started reading to my kids when they were infants and they all could read by the time they were four, but still wanted to be read to long into their childhoods.
4. Attention Advantage
Once you’re all snuggled up with your child for a bedtime story, it’s a great time to influence him/her with life lessons by agreeing or disagreeing with events in the book. In my poem McKenzie McGreedit, it creates the perfect moment to talk about what she did.
“Can you believe she picks her nose and eats it? That’s not healthy is it?”
5. Establishes a Habit
When you end your children’s day with bedtime stories, that special time will become a habit and part of life. Reading to your kids, turns them into readers. When you make reading a pleasure, you’ll never have to encourage your kids to read, they’ll just do it
6. Opens the Doorway to Writing
Out of reading comes writing. We can’t write until we can read. What comes first? The letter read or the letter written? By reading to your children, you may be creating the next Louisa May Alcott!
7. Inexpensive Fun
Kid’s love to hear the same stories and poems over and over again, so when you find a good book they love, every time you read it, the cost per reading goes down! It was true with my children and my grandchildren.
Lettuce Bee Silly is a collection of silly poems I wrote for children of all ages. Movies for children tend to be sprinkled with grown-up winks and that’s true for Lettuce Bee Silly. Here’s a sample of two poems to give you an idea of what the book is like.