Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Bedtime Stories with Marks & Spencer

Recent research into the decline of children’s reading shows that "for most children, screen time is habitual. They are often over-stimulated by screens, rarely offline; some carry a device 24/7.  Children flit from one form of entertainment to another and media meshing (using multiple devices simultaneously) is the norm."

I hope you're as shocked by that as I am.  According to the same research, 40% of 8-16 year olds read daily in 2005, a figure which had dropped to just 28% by 2012.  One reason for this is that modern parents just don't have the time/energy/inclination to devote special time to reading to their child from birth, a practice which helps to instill the principle of reading for pleasure.

This winter, Marks & Spencer want to encourage parents to take time out of their busy days to snuggle up with their children and read proper old-fashioned bedtime stories.  By protecting just a small slot of time for reading before bed, we can all reinforce a love of books in our children and encouraging the practice of daily reading for pleasure.

M&S have a fantastic range of children's books, suitable from birth upwards, and we have been sent a lovely selection to review, including these lovely Paddington and Alfie collections.  You can see the excitement at their arrival above!  We were challenged to read to the girls every day at bedtime and report back our findings.

Our home is absolutely full of books and Lara and Sophia have been read to every day from birth, but even so we don't always manage to read at bedtime, so we were all excited to be taking part in this challenge.  Having a new baby, it initially seemed like yet another thing to do, but actually having this new little routine really helped.

Steve took the older two girls off to bed just before their usual sleep time (we honour natural sleep, so the girls' bedtime is of their own choosing, according to their bodies' needs), and read stories with them until they feel asleep.  They loved having new books to read, but also having this quality one-to-one time with Daddy really helped relieve any little twinges of jealousy they may have felt during the day.

Another fascinating effect of this new daily story time was that each morning Lara acted out one of the stories from the night before with her cuddly toys or dollies.  She has done this in the past of course, but it amazed us that she was now doing it daily, proving that the late evening story-telling had really entered her memory banks during sleep.  This memory training will certainly pay dividends for her in the future.

Regular readers will know I am not at all happy with young children having screen time, beyond a little carefully chosen television or DVD, and this lovely evening quiet time is a fantastic alternative.  It would be lovely to think we could all get back to having a regular bedtime story time with our children, I know it has certainly helped my girls to relax into sleep.  Now we just have to wean me off trash evening television...

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