"What was the first book you've ever read?" people will sometimes ask me. Shrugging, I always answer, "I don't remember. But I know I loved it".
I don't remember because the first books I fell in love with were those my dad would read to me when I was too young to understand the words on the pages of my favorite books. Today's post is a discussion about bedtime stories and perhaps also, a little tribute to those early stories that gave me my never-ending love for books.
Bedtime stories have shaped my reading life and that's something I'm sure a lot of you can relate to. But why are bedtime stories so influential? What is it about them that is able to spark an interest in kids for printed words on a page?
Reading feels like home
Reading time with mum or dad is something lots of kids look forward to and cherish. It's that time of the day when no one is too busy to spend time with them. When you're a child, there is comfort and safety in the warmth of your mother's arms or on your dad's lap. These feelings are also present when children are being read stories by their parents. Thus, over time, they begin to associate reading time with feelings like love, comfort, warmth. And so, as they grow older and start to open books on their own, reading remains something they associate with positive feelings. With home.
The eagerness of resuming an adventure
If a book is on the longer side, it'll probably take a few days before the parents get through it with their child. Each night, the child will be eager to continue the story where they left off the previous day. When I was little, my mum would read a book of 365 stories to my sister and I, with one story for each day of the year. It was comforting to know that each day had a new story for us. We would look forward to the next day's story and to reaching the book's end and so, that time in the evening where mum would come in our room with the book, was something we particularly loved.
The pleasure of turning the pages of a book on your ownWhen you're very young, it's your dad or your mum who reads to you, who turns the pages of the book for you and from the comfort of your bed, you watch them and wish to become just a little older so that you can do these things too. Story-telling time with their parents encourages children to be interested in books. It encourages them to pick up books and enjoy turning the pages on their own.
Characters that resonate with us
The role models children look up to are often the characters they come across in their cartoons and their books. A book with characters that resonate with them are more likely to catch their attention and encourage them to read. When Harry Potter was first published, so many kids related to his story. He was a little awkward and a little lost when he was first introduced and kids everywhere were intrigued by his story and were eager to see where next his adventures would take him and them alike. Anne of Green Gables, The Famous Five, Nancy Drew, Matilda... Often, it's our favorite childhood characters that give us our love for books and make readers out of us.
The milestone of reading your first words on your ownWhen I was little and my dad would read to me from my favorite books, I couldn't wait to one day be just like him and be able to read all these great stories on my own. To a child that grew up with books and stories, learning to read on their own is a milestone they'll be happy to reach. Thus, bedtime stories make readers out of children. It gives them an interest in books that will be converted to curiosity over time. A curiosity that will push them to learn more and read on their own with the same confidence their parents read to them.
Stories make us dream
Children love stories. They love listening to them and making up some of their own. Stories feed their imagination and allows them to become anyone they want to be. Pirate, wizard, princess, superhero... Books make kids dream and become imaginative and feed their creativity.
So, yes, bedtime stories made a book lover out of me. They gave me a love for stories that only grew as I got older. To both my sister and I, reading time with our parents is among the highlights of our childhood and we would probably not be the avid readers we are today if not for those nights huddled with our parents over our favorite childhood books.
What do you think of bedtime stories? Would you say they do help kids grow to love reading? Also, if you have kids, is there a particular story you like to read to them?
Cover art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo