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Dec 172013

Article Review of  No Bedtime Stories Affect Children’s Literacy.  Article by Vishakha Sonawane, ParentHerald, 8/21/2013 Reviewed by Erin Calhoun, Contributor.

When our children are little, it makes only sense that we as the adult are reading to them.  Great stories like Goodnight Moon, Fancy Nancy, Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Seuss, and Little Critter books were only some of the favorites in my household.  But as one would expect, our children grow and become independent readers.  They no longer need us to read them these stories, or do they?  It has been discovered that parents who stop reading a nightly bedtime story to their child around the age of seven are seeing a negative impact on their child’s literacy.

Image  Courtesy of John Morgan, hosted on Flickr.com under Creative Commons 2.0 license

Image Courtesy of John Morgan, hosted on Flickr.com under Creative Commons 2.0 license

A study done by Oxford University has found that two thirds of the six year olds surveyed said that they enjoy having a bedtime story read to them.  However, forty-four percent of the parents of these youngsters had the opinion that their child no longer needed this nightly routine.  Sadly, what these parents do not realize is that by releasing their child from this routine, they not only sever a bond that is being created, but they also significantly impact their child’s view of books, literacy habits, and overall education.  A family that reads together with their children for a minimum of ten minutes a day, six days a week, provides an hour or more of support for their child each week.  Having this kind of emotional and mental support greatly impacts your child’s confidence and security in other areas of their education.

Reading with your child shouldn’t stop once they become independent readers.  Children as old as eleven show academic growth when they read with a parent.  Reading with the parent in the upper grades provides opportunities to discover different genres, develop vocabulary, and increase the desire to read for enjoyment purposes.  Children who enjoy reading, more often than not, are found to read above grade level.  In addition, studies have found that children who see their parents reading for enjoyment are thirteen times more likely to read for enjoyment themselves.

Engaging in reading with older children looks different than when they were little.  You can still be the expert reader, but encourage your child to also take a turn reading aloud with you.  There are plenty of picture books that are intended for older children.  Just because they can read a chapter book doesn’t take away the need for enjoying a good picture book sometimes.  Don’t be concerned if your child chooses to read these types of books with you.  If there are younger siblings in the house, invite the older child to be a part or a character in the book and have them help you read to the younger children.  Another way to read with your child is for each of you to have your own copy of a book and discuss the book or chapters as you go.  Should a blockbuster movie be based on a book, challenge your child to read the book with you first, then watch the movie.  After watching the movie you can be your own critic and discuss how the book and the movie were the same or different and which you enjoyed more.  Also, you and your child can pick a book above their reading or age level and discuss the book as you read aloud, ensuring that your child understands the concepts, ideas, and vocabulary.  Because this is a time for enjoyment as you encourage your child to read with you, make sure that they have input on what is being read.  They will be more excited and tuned into the book if they are part of the process.

At no age does reading with your child cease to be beneficial! In addition to gaining the mechanics of reading, children develop a motivation and passion for reading when shared reading takes place on a daily basis, at any age. This passion for reading will not only provide enjoyment and entertainment, but it will develop academic and thinking skills that will improve school performance that will positively impact your child for a lifetime.