Monday, June 9, 2014

Benefits of the Bedtime Story

Reading a story has become part of the bedtime routine for generations of children. What parents may not realize is the importance of the bedtime story in developing a young child’s interest in reading. Here are three benefits of reading aloud to your child everyday.

Emotional Bonding
When a parent and child snuggle together to share a story, the emotional bond between them is strengthened. Children relate the warm reassurance that comes from this experience to books. This builds positive feelings about books and reading.  
Sense of Story
The bedtime story gives children a sense of what reading is all about. As adults, we take for granted our understanding that books tell a complete, sequential story with a beginning, middle, and an end.  Children need experiences with many books before they develop a sense of story.  By listening to others read aloud, children learn that all stories share certain characteristics, such as a title, plot, characters, and conclusion. They begin to listen for these elements in order for the story to make sense.  Listening for information gives children the comprehension skills they need as beginning readers.
How Language Works
Did you know that young children often think that adults are telling the story by looking at the pictures rather than by reading the words? This is because they are looking at the pictures so think the reader is too! After more experiences with books, children begin to understand that the print on the page actually has meaning.  They begin to distinguish between the function of the text and the illustrations. These leads to an awareness of print in their immediate environment and children will begin to recognize words on products, store signs, and television commercials. It is through these experiences with print in books and their environment that children make the transition from prereader to accomplished reader.
It is never too soon or too late to begin the bedtime story habit with your child.  The earlier you begin reading to your child the better.  Also, it is important that parents share story time with their children even after they are reading on their own. 

Here are three resources to help parents make the most of the bedtime story: 
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Reading for the Love of It, Best Books for YoungReaders by Michele Landsberg 
The New York Times Parents Guide to the Best Booksfor Children by Eden Ross Lipson. 


  1. Kids often think adults are telling the story by looking at the pictures, rather than by reading the words. That's a great nugget I didn't know. Thanks!

  2. It's a little thing called "print awareness." Children who do not yet understand the function of print just assume the story is being told from the illustrations. If you read "Where the Wild Things Are" aloud to a group of preschoolers, you may have several demanding that you READ when you come to the wordless illustrations of the wild rumpus.


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