Bedtime stories are a great way to bond with your children and send them off to sleep with a head full of adventures.
Despite talk of a 48 hour day and the quickening pace of working life, the bedtime story is definitely not dead.
According to research by the makers of Aquafresh Kids, 50% of modern day parents are reading to their children every night and almost 70% tell a bedtime story more than five times a week.
Janette Wallis, educational expert for Leapfrog said: "It’s such a key part of every child’s development, and an ideal opportunity for family bonding time."
The benefits of telling your little one a tale before they drift off doesn't just work wonders for their bedtime routine, it also gives you the chance to switch off from emails, to-do lists and phone calls and have some all important family time, not to mention giving you a chance to test out your drama skills!
So if you're a new parent or you're struggling to leave your inhibitions at the door then here's a few handy tips from the experts to help you get the most out of storytime.
Quality not quantity
Bedtime stories shouldn’t have to take up your whole evening. It’s not practical to set aside hours of storytelling time a night and there’s no little bottom that would engage with you fidget-free for that long, even if you are the next Julie Andrews.
The most effective way of tackling the bedtime story is by doing it in bitesize amounts. As Janette explains:
“Family reading time should be about quality rather than quantity. Just 10 minutes of time spent interacting with books with your child will inspire a love and appreciation of reading.”
There's no better way to wind down for the evening than snuggling up and cosy-ing down together for some quiet time.
It doesn't just have to be a job for mummy, daddies can do their share of storytelling shift work too and the chances are your children will love the different voices and styles.
In the time it takes to boil the kettle you could have your little one tucked up and catching Z’s. Ah, bliss.
Brush up on your drama skills
If it’s only 6pm and you’re already lacking energy the bedtime story might just be your evening pick-me-up.
Getting your child involved and engaged in the story will not only make a better story teller of you, it will also force you to get your energy levels up after a hard day in the office.
Take Janette’s advice and make reading exciting, “Use different voices, or insert your child’s name in place of one of the characters. Be lavish with your praise! Try books with colourful illustrations and other interactive elements that help keep them engaged”
Whether you’re telling a classic or tweaking traditional tales of fiction and fantasy to include Peppa Pig, making it an entertaining activity will help them to recognise the fun in learning and literacy.
Kristen Harding, Childcare Expert at Tinies.com, adds: "Reading stories together helps to foster imagination, and for the more adventurous parent, gives you a chance to bring the character and story to life.
"By giving different characters voices, and changing your tone when something happy or sad happens, helps your child to understand what is happening even before they understand the words you are reading."
Set an example
You don’t have to be bookworm of the year to show your children the importance of reading.
The most important thing is to be aware of your reading habits and behaviour. “You are your child’s most important role model so make sure he or she sees you reading,” Janette says.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a book. Whether you’re scanning the newspaper or digesting the latest novel on your Kindle, the sooner your child recognises reading as an everyday activity the more interested and intrigued they’ll become.
If you plan a day out make sure you continue to immerse them in the world of books and illustration. Audio books are ideal for a family on the go and they can also help to invite your child to use their imagination and recognise the sounds of words. This other dimention of storytime will keep the novelty of reading alive.
Telling a story in a different environment might also help to settle your child as they learn to associate reading with calm time. You can also use it as a reward system for good behaviour when you're not at home.