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Why stories are not just for bedtime

Do you read to your children regularly? Many parents who read to their children do this as part of their children’s bedtime routine. They cuddle up to their children and read a story or two before it’s time for their children to drift off to dreamland. Bedtime stories are an easy way of helping your children to relax at the end of a busy day. The bonus is that while you are reading to your children, you are also developing their understanding of how books and stories work, and so you’re making it easier for them to learn to read.

But bedtime is not the only story time available to us! There are plenty of other opportunities for us to weave stories into our children’s daily lives. Arabella Koopman, from Nal’ibali, shares two examples from her own life.

“As a young child, I was an extremely slow eater. At supper time, everyone else would have finished their meal, but I would only be about half-way through mine! My parents used to nag me to eat, but it didn’t really make any difference.

Then one day, my father invented a character called Timothy Topkin and made up stories about him as a way of getting me to eat quicker! This is how it worked: while I kept eating, the latest adventure featuring Timothy and his friends continued. As soon as I stopped eating, the story would stop too. I loved Timothy Topkin and so I kept eating steadily. Problem solved!

Then later in life when I was a parent, I had a toddler who refused to get out of the bath – she always wanted to play in the water some more! Bath time would always end in tears, so I was looking for a way to change this. Stories came to my rescue! Every bath time, after my daughter had played in the water for a while, I would tell her it was story time. I would start reading her a storybook until I got about halfway through and then she would have to get out of the bath for the story to continue. She always did this happily and every evening we completed the story with her sitting on my lap wrapped in a towel.”

Whether you use stories as a way of relaxing your children, or to get them to do something they don’t really want to do, or to pass the time while you wait for an appointment, your children are learning that reading and listening to stories feels good. And it is this that helps to make them lifelong readers. So, go on, share stories anywhere and any time!

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