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Let Books Take the Bedtime Strain By Guest Blogger Jane Ireland

Girl reading story

What is bedtime like in your house?  Bedtime for small children is often a fraught time for parents and children alike, and even the most zen parents can struggle to get children into bed, or, even more importantly, stay there.  There are many reasons as to why this can happen, but one way is to incorporate books and storytime into your evening routine and I'm here to guide you through some simple dos and don'ts of bedtime reading.

mum and child reading story

Make Books Routine

If you don't currently have books as part of your bedtime routine, now is the best time to start. Think about when and where you want to read a story - and how much time you want to allocate to reading to your children.  This will rest on the age of your children as the younger they are the more likely they will only need a few minutes of reading.  For older children, agreeing on a length of time/number of stories in advance is key.

Right Book at the Right Time

This might sound obvious but it sometimes isn't, as attested by anyone who has ever said to their partner/grandad etc "Don't get them excited before bed".  Books can of course be full of excitement but if the purpose of a bedtime story is to prepare a child for bed, gentle not exciting is what is called for.  I would suggest having a pile of bedtime books near the bed, expressly for use at bedtime and only reading from these books. Children love repetition and will not usually mind listening to the same stories over and over.

Child reading bedtime story

Tips for Reading at Bedtime

So you've agreed on the amount of stories to be read, and you've got your pile of bedtime books ready - now what?  To keep your child's engagement and enjoyment in the book, let them choose (from the bedtime pile) which book they want to hear; this might well be the same book every day for a week and might drive you to tears of boredom, but as mentioned above, children love repetition.  At this juncture, I should probably warn you not to skip a page as, even if they're on the verge of sleep, any deviation from a well-loved favourite will have even the sleepiest child sitting bolt upright exclaiming "That's not how it goes". We've all been there!

Picture books are great for younger children, but not essential - this will depend on whereabouts you are reading the story and where the child is, for example, in a chair, sofa or sitting on the end of the bed.  For a bedtime story, the sound of your voice and the routine are what's most important, hence choosing a range of gentle bedtime books.  For books without pictures, doing all the voices is a great way of keeping children engaged (and has the added benefit of making it more interesting for you too).  

Go Forth and Read

The most important thing to remember with bedtime stories is that there is no wrong way to read a book to a child.  Most children love being read to and a bedtime story is the most special for both parents and children.  If you struggle with bedtime or even if you don't, I hope these tips have given you some ideas on how to make bedtime special.


Quack Quack Books - In Partnership with Usborne

Quack Quacks Books is run by Jane Ireland as an Independent Usborne Partner, selling Usborne children's books.  For tips on reading and recommendations on the best books around, follow at:

Granddad reading child story

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