A: Aside from the apparent, that is helping your child build vocabulary, reading bedtime stories also help parents to set a routine and let the child to calm down after a day of playing and get ready to sleep. Reading stories together in bed can effectively relax your child and reduce their stress levels, which in term improves their sleeping quality. Having the parent pay attention to their child at a peaceful hour also supports parent-child bonding and create opportunities for heartfelt conversations.
A: According to research, children already start giving attention to books and their information at six months old. By reading to them and explaining to them the words and icons in the books, parents are able to develop their children’s ability to focus and understand abstract concepts. Also, the earlier you start this tradition—and doing it right– the more likely your child will grow up to think of reading as an enjoyable activity. Therefore, reading to your child is meaningful even if they have not started speaking yet.
A: There are many children’s books on the market which are carefully sorted out by age, length, and topics, which can be efficient pointers if you feel clueless facing so many choices. However, ultimately, the best choice would be something you or your child is interested in, since it inspires the most meaningful conversations. If your baby is still too young to understand you, reading anything, such as your morning paper, works just as well if you are paying attention to your child.
A: Just like how muscles would thin down if you don’t use it often, the other organs in the human body, such as our eyes and nerves, would under-develop or deteriorate if one does not put them to good use. Therefore, books that have a vibrant colour palette and interesting textures are almost guaranteed to be able to catch your child’s attention and support their sensory development. Content-wise, it is of course good to have something that contains a strong moral lesson or practical knowledge, but too much of it can also become preachy and bland. Therefore, choosing something interesting remains to be the top criterion. Books that are interesting to hear, such as stories written in rhymes and limericks, are also good to read to your baby to keep them interested and entertained.
A: First of all, let us begin by reframing interruption into interaction. Your child wants to participate in the reading progress, or is curious about certain aspects of the book, which is a good thing! Indulge their curiosities by explaining what they are interested in patiently, as well as allow them to have their turn to speak. Treat it as a conversation instead of a lecture, and you will find the story time to be more enjoyable for both of you.
A: You may ask open-ended questions that encourages your kids to give something more than yes/no answers. “What should the character do?” “How would you feel if you are this character?” are all great questions that allows your child to practice speech as well as empathy. Inviting your baby to touch and feel the texture of the book is also an alternative way to enjoy it, you may describe the texture and colour to your baby, so that they know how to name the feeling they are having. “Touch this—the paper is rough but the cover is smooth! Isn’t it interesting?”
A: For some parents, there might be this misconception that even if the child does not pay attention, their subconscious would more or less pick up and absorb something. While the human subconscious is undoubtedly powerful, if the child is bored and their mind starts drifting, this exercise of thinking and reflection becomes pointless. Imagine yourself in a boring meeting—how much about the meeting could you remember after you have spent the majority of it staring out of the window? Not to mention, a toddler has not fully developed their executive function yet, and demanding them to focus on something they are not interested in is simply counter-productive. So, no matter how meaningful you think the book is, switch it out! Perhaps your child would be interested in it on another day.
A: Children at a young age learn from repetition, and therefore might enjoy listening to the same story over and over even if you personally are tired of it. It is a good thing, however, as it helps your child to gain fluency with words and fully digest the different elements of the book. Familiarity also offers a sense of comfort to children, which helps them to calm down and fall asleep easily. Therefore, there is no need to hurry– after all, quality is over quantity.
A: The UK reading charity, Booktrust, recommends parents to aim for 10 minutes of reading every day and gradually increase the time as they grow older, perhaps 20 to 30 minutes. It largely depends on the energy you and your child have, as well as your reading material of choice. 10 minutes is a good goal for you to aim for, especially if you are already exhausted after a day of work. There is no need to make it too challenging or tiring for yourself.
A: There is no exact timetable for stopping it, and if your child enjoys this activity, continuing to read bedtime stories, even after they have learned to read individually, would benefit your relationship and their continuous brain development. You may begin to pick books that are more challenging or complex to increase their vocabulary, or inspire conversations about morality and social issues. For older kids who would prefer reading alone, you may arrange a time for you to read your own book next to each other and chat idly, which would make for a great bonding experience and for you to keep track of their mental progress.