Time was when reading a bedtime story was a common practice. With two working parents, high cost of living and more demands on time, few families read together now. Do you remember being read to? Would you like to have a few minutes of quiet togetherness with your child every day?
Then bring back the bedtime story. Even older children can enjoy story time. For them, pick a book that speaks to your child’s interests – read not to him or her, but with these older children. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages – with dialogue, each of you read a different person making it like a play. Stop to talk about what might happen next. Make reading a bonding time as well as a mind games time. If you are reading a long book, be sure to leave the child with a question about what happens next.
You needn’t make it a long reading session – as little as ten minutes can serve. But make it a regular bedtime experience. Make it fun for the children and yourself. And don’t think you must make it appropriate for the youngest child if there is an age span. Younger children can learn quickly to appreciate stories a bit above their age, while older children may not be interested in something too young for them.
If there are only a couple of kids, you may prefer to read one story to one younger one, tuck him all in, and the go to the older child’s room and read another story to him. One in one time can be a major factor in the reading experience.
In my childhood, many generations ago, A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson was a night time stand by. On nights when Mom was tired, she would read a poem or two and call it a night. My grandchildren all adored the poems when I read them some of these marvelous verses that still speak to their world today. They are rhymed, lyrical and see the world through a child’s eyes. His poems about swings and shadows and bed clothes and flowers enchant all ages.
Remind children of other worlds, other times, other places through the magic of books. Show them the pleasures of the page in a quiet atmosphere that permits them to concentrate on your time together and the story you are sharing.
Select books for their stories, not their illustrations. Nighttime the small child should be able to listen, eyes closed, imagining the story as it unfolds. Look for fantasy such as the old fashioned ever popular Wizard of Oz, the Narnia Books, Peter Pan and their modern fairy tale style equivalents. Fantasy does not need to be about outer space, wars or destruction. It can be about ordinary day to day problems kids face, as these stories show, but with a touch of magic thrown in.
Check web sites and librarians and bookstores for recommendations of books for the littlest to oldest child. Give your young ones a choice of possible books – see what they want to hear, and get that on your e reader, your computer, from a book store or a library. The monetary investment can be minimal and the time too, can be minimal – but the impact on your relationship with your children will be major!
Francine L. Trevens freelanced hundreds of articles to national mags. She was a publicist for books, actors and plays, a theatre/dance critic, playwright, short story writer, poet and most recently authored a series of fantasy story collections such as Pixie Tales, and Elfin Tales. http://stagesandpages-francine.blogspot.com/