One of my favourite things to do is to share books with my children at bedtime. Real physical, page turning books. With exciting characters and beautiful illustrations.
I find it’s a lovely calming and bonding time of the day when everyone relaxes, snuggles up and enjoys being in each other’s company. I love to see their amazing imaginations working and creating some of the colourful worlds that only books can ignite.
And whilst buying lots of books can be expensive, your child’s school, the local library, the supermarket and charity shops are all good places to find cheap or even free children’s books.
You may not be aware, but sharing books with your child at bedtime has lots of fabulous benefits and can even help them to sleep better and longer.
Benefits of Books at bedtime
Reading with your children is a calming ritual that helps to prepare them for sleep.
For many people, daytimes are busy, hectic times. They often include some degree of screen time which actually stimulates your child’s brain and disrupts their circadian rhythm (body clock). But simply spending 10-15 minutes being still and listening to a story can help your child to calm down, and relax their body and mind for sleep. Time spent reading divides the active part of the day from the night’s rest and helps your child to make a smooth transition.
Bonding over a book
By spending some time focussing on a good book or two, you are creating some wonderful shared bonding time with your child. You can enjoy a story and some time together, right at the very end of their day. Reading at bedtime builds an emotional connection and allows an opportunity to end the day with some parental affection and cuddle time. Awww!
You can select calming books to enjoy together that act as a guided meditation for your child. Gently set their mind flowing towards hot air balloon rides, fairy castles, jungles and much more. Rich sources for active imaginations on their way to dreamland.
Enjoy the benefits too
Whilst reading is a great way to relax your child before bed, it’s also a great way to calm your mind too. It can prepare you for a peaceful evening and more restful night, or simply help to reset your mind ready to switch between different modes. It can help to separate your work brain from your home brain, or your parenting mode from your adult mode.
Other benefits of reading with your child
- Reading regularly to your child helps them to be familiar with how books and reading work and sets the early foundations for reading or supports and cements their school learning.
- By making reading a pleasurable experience you are creating a positive attitude towards reading that will last
- Your child will be exposed to new vocabulary, words, and names
- Your child’s brain will be engaged and their imagination will build much more effectively than tv, video or other passive mediums will
- Reading helps children learn about their world around them and to experience new things or ideas that they may not normally experience
- Sharing a story is a great way to improve communication between you and your child. Try asking questions about what they like or dislike, what they think about the characters or storyline, or how else the story could end.
- Stories can help children to understand, recognise, name and process emotions that they may not be overly familiar with
- Reading promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your child
- Some studies have found that regularly reading to your child in an interactive style can increase their IQ by over 6 points
So go ahead. Snuggle up with your child and a great book at bedtime to enjoy all of these benefits and more.
The Sleep Sanctuary
The gentle children’s sleep consultancy, helping families to enjoy better sleep and live healthier, happier lives