Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 17 Jan 2008

Is there evidence that bedtime stories are good for children? I work and my children sometimes have a tape.

Hillary's Advice

I can find no research that proves that bedtime stories, per se, are good for children – let me know if I have missed something -- although there is plenty of evidence that introducing children to books at home improves their language acquisition, reading and enjoyment of stories, as well as more specific findings that reading aloud to young children improves their decoding, reading comprehension and story-telling skills. And there are bucketloads of evidence to show that parental support and involvement are the absolute keys to good literacy and all-round success at school. (For hundreds of ways to give your children this, see my book Help Your Child Succeed at School, published by Piatkus – and, no, it does not suggest you hover neurotically over their every move.)

But no-one needs research to show why bedtime stories are good for children. We all know it in our bones. They get cuddles and conversation along with a story, and the whole ritual makes them feel not only loved and special and safe, but also allows them to relish words and stories in a relaxed and non-schooly environment.

Of course it isn’t going to kill your kids to have a story tape now and then – and shame on the Government for making parents feel this – but for your own sake as much as theirs, try and make the time for reading whenever you can. Evening chores will be there as long as you live. The days when you can snuggle up with your children and share a story will be gone sooner than you can imagine.