Reading to Your Children: A Treat or a Chore?

The best part of my day is story time at the end of the day, just before bedtime. Of course, partly because I know that me-time is not too far off, but mostly because I love sharing my love of stories with my children. I enjoy how they laugh, gasp and sigh as I read. I even enjoy the upset faces when the chapter has ended. “No mum, just one more chapter! Please, I need to know what happens next.”

The upside of story time is that it’s really good for children’s creative and linguistic development. It’s known to improve vocabulary as well as empathy. It gives you some calm ‘together-time’ after a usually hectic day, and it will teach kids to love reading for themselves. I think this is something known to most parents, yet surveys have shown that less and less parents are doing it regularly.

Among my own friends, I also hear that they often skip story time. The most common excuse is lack of time or energy. I’m really fortunate that story time gives me energy. To get a sense of how some parents feel about reading time, I suggest you read: Why I hate reading to my kids at bedtime.

In his post Toby Young writes: “I am a member of the wretched 10% who read to their children at night. Why wretched? Let me count the ways. First of all, children have absolutely no taste. None.”

I think reading his argument is interesting, but I don’t feel the same way. If I really don’t like a story, I’ll hide it or – in most cases – just bring it back to the library. And I keep re-reading the same book that I find interesting by changing the voices or the speed with which I read. I sometimes change things around and see if I’m caught out. And at the end of the day, I’m reading the story for their enjoyment, not mine. You get to know your child through their tastes and interests.

I’m already sad for the day when they’ll say, “No mum, you don’t have to read to me. I can read it myself.”