• The Read Aloud Project

A Parents Crime: Not Reading bedtime stories to your child

Reading a bedtime story to your kids is not a chore to delegate, it’s the best part of parenting.


Not reading to your children is a crime. Not only are you hampering their education — reading stories to kids has been proven over and over to increase their literacy and cognitive skills — but you are also missing out on doing yourself some good.


Of all the elements of motherhood, reading is the one thing I look forward to the most. Parenting is not easy and after a day of chaos, those precious moments together cracking open a classic tale does me much more good than cracking open a bottle.


As long as you can read good books, it’s wonderful — you rediscover stories that enthralled you as a child, as well as new adventures, and you legitimately get to send your imagination soaring alongside your kid. From The Faraway Tree to The Twits, Mary Poppins to Harry Potter, children’s books take you on wild adventures that entertain and ask the big questions. Author Philip Pullman once said, “There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.”


Admittedly once they start wanting these awful novels about naughty mermaids and fairies, they’re on their own.


It’s also good for your mental health — according to research from the University of Sussex, reading for just six minutes reduces stress by 68 per cent in adults. Mindfulness without a special app? How novel.


It works the same way with children — not only are you having some (what can be increasingly rare) positive one-to-one time, but you are also helping them emotionally, while exercising their imagination and letting them process some of the messages the books contain. You can laugh together and stop and answer questions about the story.


If that wasn’t enough to convince you, reading actually makes you live longer. According to a study from Yale University’s School of Public Health, bookworms live two years longer than non-readers. Note: it even works with newspapers, which means this column is actually good for you, whatever you think. It found reading up to three and a half hours a week gives you a 17 per cent lower chance of dying in the next 12 years.


That’s just half an hour a day — in other words, that bedtime story.


I told you Mr Fox was fantastic.

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