“A survey of 1,500 parents by the pre-school toddler activity group Talking Tots found the phenomenon [of reading aloud] was being lost. In the study, half of all parents said they never read more than one book at bedtime, while one in ten said their child never read a bedtime story – instead, falling asleep watching a DVD or listening to an audio book,” writes Tanya Thompson in the September 4 Scotsman. (By the way, I’m in Georgia, USA, but just attuned to things Scottish because of my ancestry.)
I’m as guilty as anyone at sometimes providing electronic substitution at bedtime, especially as the boys get older, in the form of audio books or the children’s record player, an eBay treasure found by my mother when Riley was 3 (he’s now 11). Scotsman seems to think I’m in good company. “With time constraints increasing, plenty of parents have sat on the edge of the bed, speed-reading their way through their child’s favourite book, with one eye on the clock, while dreading the inevitable question: “Mummy, can I have another story?”
And I’ve always been in favor of finding other times of day to read aloud, too. In the doctor’s office, during breakfast before school, even in a traffic jam. I’m also a big advocate of sharing good books in general, of showing children what good writing is and letting them hear the language. The issue to me is, making sure the time is found.
Bedtime is a cozy time, the traditional “story time.” Particularly for smaller children, who crave ritual and routine.
But it’s not the only time. Professor Cary Cooper, a psychologist from Scotland’s Lancaster University, says it is all about striking the right balance. “A recent survey showed one-third of parents spend only one hour a night with their kids. The point is people are so stressed out, they don’t have the patience and the time to sit and read with their children, which is worrying.
“The relationship with the kids is what’s important. It’s about being there and bonding with them so you can be a part of their childhood experience.”