The Power of the bedtime story

Having just read an article on the BBC news website over fears about the development of Britain’s children, I wondrered what other parents thought about this? The report states that there is a growing concern over the rate at which children are developing social skills, concentration skills and the ability to share, motivate themselves and co-operate with others.
Studies have found that “simple things like reading to children every day, regular bedtimes – even cuddling your children – will have a positive impact on their development.” and that there are direct links between socioeconomic status and a child’s readiness for school at the age of five.
It seems that families who are not high earners are failing to read to their children and that this is having a lasting impact on the prospective education of their children. I know as a teacher working at a school in one of the country’s most deprived areas, there are many children who are not given the same advantages as my children. I know that too many children come to school with empty tummies and with no prior knowledge and understanding of the world around them. I know that there is little I can do for these children outside of the classroom.
In my NQT year, a parent once asked me how she could help her year one child to improve in her reading. This was following World Book Day where the children had been asked to bring in their favourite book to share with the class. Most of the children brought nothing; one child brought an old copy of Exchange and Mart. I told this child’s parent that a really good place to start was the local library, where the child could choose a book that interested them and that they would enjoy reading a little more than their school reading book.

I think you know where this is going. If the libraries are going to close, then how will we ever improve the chances of these children? Someone tweeted recently that we had to get real about this situation and that in the scheme of things closing a few libraries was nothing compared to the thousands of people around the world who were suffering through war, famine etc. True. But isn’t it our duty to take resonsibility for the children on our own doorsteps too? With no library to access books, some children won’t get a bedtime story and, as the report has suggested, won’t develop at a ‘normal’ rate as a result. Of course, many other factors need to be considered here also, but the importance of reading and being read to is, in my opinion, so great. Children learn to communicate, share, educate themselves and to develop vital language skills through reading. With no libraries, so many children are going to miss out on this and one day they will be adults. I wonder who will help them then?
For more information on the importance of books, visit:
Reading For Life
Find a Library
Guardian- The Best Children’s Books Ever


  1. alysonsblog
    February 17, 2011 / 8:32 am

    too true unfortunately, im a governor at my daughters school in a particlularly deprived area, and the horror stories are just horrendous, we have one boy who comes to us having slept in his uniform, as he has no PJ’s, when he arrives the school gives him breakfast, school lunch and then sends him home with sandwiches for tea, its heartbreaking, so reading is so far down the list for him,just basic love and the essentials would do for a kick off, I see the chief execs at these councils are not taking a pay cut…as for the solution.. the Big Society.. big Tory con more like

    • February 17, 2011 / 7:54 pm

      There are so many children like this at my school. Its really sad

  2. February 17, 2011 / 9:56 am

    This post is absolutely outstanding! I pretty much agree with everything you have pointed out and it actually brought a tear to my eye thinking of all these children who never get bedtime stories or ANY stories read to them/with them. The only point I found a bit worrying was about low income families not reading with their children. We’re a low income family and from the moment my children were born I have been reading to them and with them every day. My parents were also low income when I was a child and they read to me/ with me a lot. I love sharing books with them, I was an avid reader as a child myself and really want to pass on my love of reading to all three of my girls.
    The links at the bottom of the post are fab, all great sites with useful information!! Our local library has just been refurbished (not entirely sure about the mega modern look but it’s a big improvement!) so I don’t think it’s under threat any time soon but am trying to do what I can to help stop other libraries from closing, they are massively important resources!!!
    Much love,
    Jules (the bookworm!) xx

    • February 17, 2011 / 7:57 pm

      I know that lots of low income families do take the time to read but there are some who don’t can’t. A lot of the families at my school are EAL and so parents can’t even speak english. Such a shaem. Thank you for your lovely comments

  3. February 17, 2011 / 9:57 am

    P.S. have added you to my blogroll as I’m always here having a read and think you’re a wonderful writer x

  4. February 17, 2011 / 1:02 pm

    This is SUCH an important post about a very important issue that I’m practically jumping up and down as I try and type this. You are totally right. Reading opens a child’s minds to the realms of possibility. Children learn so much from reading and shutting down libraries is a travesty. When I was a child my mother took me to the library every week to choose books and take part in ‘story time’ where one of the librarians would read a book to us as we sat crossed legged and totally absorbed in front of them. I read to DD every day and I hope she grows to love books as much as I do.

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  6. Don't step on the cracks
    February 17, 2011 / 5:20 pm

    I absolutely agree with you. The death of the local library will be a terrible thing for this generation to be remembered for. I am off to join our local library with the children tomorrow as a small gesture of support – something I’ve been meaning to do for months

    • February 17, 2011 / 7:54 pm

      I joined the baby up yesterday. I agree it would be awful to lose them all

  7. February 17, 2011 / 5:29 pm

    I agree with all of this. My 3 year old boy has more books than I own. We regularly visit our library to look at books too. I love finding him new things in charity shops and we always read at least 2 books at bedtime.
    I find it strange when a child does not have access to books. We also got the free books from our health visitor from Bookstart.

    What I love most is seeing Jared sitting and looking through books on his own.

    • February 17, 2011 / 7:53 pm

      My daughter has loads of books too! We buy them constantly! She’s always loved going to the library too

  8. February 17, 2011 / 6:31 pm

    Agree reading to the kids is so important both educationally and as a lovely quiet time together. We read every night before bed as I’m sure loads of others do as part of our daily routine. I just want my kids to share my love of reading and it starts at such a young age. If we can’t get to the library we often nip into charity shops and pick up bargain books for them – much rather this than the comics which cost a fortune! Agree it would be awful for the libraries to close.

    • February 17, 2011 / 7:52 pm

      We love reading too, its so important. Thanks for your comments

  9. February 17, 2011 / 9:43 pm

    You have absolutely hit the nail on the head here. Access to books should not be a privelege. It should be a child’s right. The Big Society idea appears to forget that children from less-priveleged backgrounds will be the ones to miss out. Again. How can we expect these children to grow into educated adults able to contribute to society in the longrun, if we take away their basic right of access to books?

    I love this post. It is what blogging is all about.

  10. missjacq
    February 20, 2011 / 1:53 am

    That is really sad. I’m a single mum who is currently sick, therefore I’m not on a great income. However I have read to my Son since He was 6 weeks old. I also know that when He stays with his Nanny they do the same there. My Son loves his books and I’m glad He does as I believe this is important and will help him later on in life. I also love reading to him as it brings us together and ever since He was a baby has been our bonding time. Mummy and Son’s special, whining down time together. Thanks for sharing this blog. Another good read.

    • missjacq
      February 20, 2011 / 1:56 am

      Also our local library recently closed its doors for the final time. I now tend to buy all of our books from the local charity shops, they are cheap and the money all goes to a good cause.

      • February 21, 2011 / 12:51 pm

        How sad. Its such a shame that they’re closing them. Our local one is going too

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