I’ve always read my kids bedtime stories ever since my eldest was 18 months (except when I was breastfeeding and husband took over reading duties for the others). We all really enjoy the bedtime stories. It’s good relaxation, good for them to learn language and a love of books, and for me to share my love of books with them.
My only rule has always been that we must read something I enjoy. We started out on Julia Donaldson, Lauren Child and Dr Seuss, moving on to Horrid Henry, then Mr Gum and Jeremy Strong, before ending up with Harry Potter and Skulduggery Pleasant.
I put a lot into my reading – expression and funny voices – and I vary the pace and the volume to build tension or humour. It helps the kids to really appreciate stories and understand the way they should (I think!) be read.
I fell into a pattern of reading to my daughter first, then reading to the two boys together. It was time-consuming, but we all enjoyed it. The boys then had a few minutes to read on their own too before they went to sleep, so they had the best of both worlds.
The kids have their own favourite books they read too – my younger son is obsessed with Beast Quest and has read them all. They are great for encouraging boys to read, but they are pretty formulaic, and I don’t enjoy reading them myself. The boys have also read all the Harry Potters themselves, but still like me reading them out loud to them.
But then something happened. The Olympics. The kids loved the Olympics. They wanted to stay up and watch it, so they did that instead of their bedtime stories. And once the Olympics were over, we never really went back. They were too busy procrastinating and somehow it just got too late for a story.
We’ve lost a little bit of quality time and a little bit of relaxation. I feel especially sorry for my daughter, who is only 6. I think it’s especially important she still has a story, but I miss reading to the boys too.
I might manage to read to the boys once a week at most. We have been ploughing through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for months. My daughter gets probably two or three sessions a week. We’ve been reading the Enchanted Wood (the one before the more-famous Faraway Tree) for weeks and weeks.
I don’t want to lose that special time with them. It’s time to get a grip of bedtime and reinstate those bedtime stories.