By Amanda Wilkes:
I remember as a child being enamored with my bedtime story. It didn’t matter if it was my mom, dad, aunt, uncle or cousin who was reading to me or telling me a story — I wanted to use my last ounce of imagination before I drifted off to sleep! For me, my bedtime stories always set the stage for my dreams at night. Whether the book was about a pirate at sea or the tooth fairy’s magical kingdom, I became a part of the story as soon as I began to dream. As an adult, I have realized that bedtime stories are not only a wonderful experience to have as a child but also that there are a great number of reasons why bedtime stories are beneficial for the whole family! I have decided that bedtime stories foster sanity, snuggles and superior brains!
Bedtime is a struggle for many families. In many cases, parents work, and get back home just in time to make dinner, prepare a bath, brush teeth and hair, dress in pajamas and coax their children into bed — after working an 8- to 10-hour day. You may be thinking that throwing in one more thing like a bedtime story is absolutely insane; however, that bedtime story could be the lifesaver you have been looking for.
By creating a routine and incorporating a bedtime story, children have something to look forward to before they go to sleep. Knowing that they will be rewarded with a bedtime story can be a type of incentive for many children to finish their routine in a fun and timely manner. As children get older, chapter books are the perfect way to keep them hooked and excited about what will happen the next night.
A bedtime story is the perfect way for parents and children to transition from day to night. Slowing down after the day’s hustle bustle by reading a bedtime story can create a very calming environment where snuggles are encouraged. Lying in bed and reading a story together gives you and your child the time to reconnect both physically and mentally — being in the same close physical space, speaking and listening to one another, and letting your imaginations run. Bedtime stories create the opportunity for one last ounce of positive and loving attention before your child falls asleep.
Research has proven that amplified exposure to language and vocabulary is an early indicator that children will be more intelligent, and find ease in education and learning. It is important also to note that, when exposing your child to language and vocabulary, s/he needs to hear it from people — not screens. When reading to your child, you are activating the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex, which is directly linked with sound and visual stimulation. It has been reported that when older children read to themselves, this region of the brain lights up. Research also has shown that children who were read to regularly show significantly increased activity in the areas of the brain that process visual association.
So, when you are feeling exhausted from your long day at work and preparing the children for bed, remember the benefits of bedtime stories, and try to make them happen more often than not!