Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Nation's Favourite Bedtime Stories

I am often asked to review apps and the like, but always politely decline.  Although we lean towards a radical unschooling approach to life and learning, I don't think we're going to alter our belief that children and technology are not a great combination.  There are trees to climb, treasures to discover, conversations to create wonder, picnics to munch, and adventures to be had, none of which can be enhanced by having your face stuck to an X-Box, a PSP, or an iPad full of games.  Technology for research, to develop learning, even for work, fine; but fun is better had elsewhere I believe.

The most depressing for me though is when I am asked to review a children's eBook.  I recoil in horror at the thought of reading from a screen myself, let alone reading to the children from one!  Long live the real, physical book, I say.

Thankfully, a survey by bedroom retailer Betta Living has found that all is not lost, in fact the magic of the bedtime story is flourishing!  They surveyed 2,000 parents with a child under the age of ten to determine the nation’s attitude towards bedtime stories, and found that 79% of parents read to their children, an average of 4 times a week.  And a heartening 87% of those use a real book, rather than an electronic substitute.

With Roald Dahl on the up and Enid Blyton sadly on the way down, they also sought to discover what the nation's favourite children's stories are.  The Top 10 reveals a delightful mix of modern and traditional tales:

1 The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
2 The BFG by Roald Dahl
3 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
4 Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
5 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
6 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
7 What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
8 The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
9 The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
10 Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

While the books of Julia Donaldson have become modern classics, it is lovely to see classic titles such as The Cat In The Hat, The Tiger who Came to Tea, Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all in the top 10.  Many of these were stories familiar to us parents from our own childhoods, and it is a joy to be able to share them with the next generation.

As a self-confessed sentimental hoarder, I have lots of my childhood books still, and I can't wait to share my favourite classics like Little Women and Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse with the girls as they get older.  Their current favourites are Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Beatrix Potter tales, and the gorgeous new story from Julia Donaldson, The Flying Bath.

How many of these are on your bookshelves?  What is your child's favourite story?

You can read more about the Betta Living survey and results on their blog.


  1. It would have to be the gruffalo! I loved the BFG when I was a kid! (still do!)

  2. I love books, the idea of reading a bedtime story on an ipad or the like is heart-breaking, you really can't beat the real feel of a book, and I'm sure an ebook won't encourage a life-long love of reading like a real book.

  3. I remember most of these as a child also reading them to my child.

  4. I think it would have to be the Gruffalo for me.

  5. Kids love the Gruffalo. My son used to love Enid Blyton The Faraway Tree and Noddy tales. I really admire you for home schooling, wish I could have done it. What do you do when they are senior school age though, when you do physics and chemistry and more?

    1. Between us Steve and I have a fair understanding/knowledge up to at least GCSE level for most standard school subjects, but anything we don't know we will look up, learn together, or tap into someone who does know. Our approach is to follow the girls' natural interests, rather than any prescribed curricula, so they may or may not be interested in those subjects. It's all part of the big unfolding adventure!

  6. I love your approach to parenting. So refreshing! I would have to add my own personal favourite of The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton to this list.

  7. we have all these books on our shelf at home. another firm favourite is hairy maclary from donaldson dairy secretly one of my favs too!

  8. I have always read to my children at night time especially.


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