There are not many people in the UK who don’t remember getting read a bedtime story when they were young.
For generations upon generations, bedtime stories have been the staple of most households in the UK. You may remember a particularly overdramatic version of Little Red Riding Hood once upon a time, or a very dull version of Three little Bears which had your parent’s desired effect of making you fall asleep very quickly.
But why have we always done it? What good are bedtime stories for children? What are the best bedtime stories? And, where do you find new children’s short stories for bedtime?
Why do we read bedtime stories to our children?
This may sound like a simple question but there is actually more to it than you might think.
Not only does reading to your child before bedtime create a stronger bond between you both but it can hugely help your child out, after all, that is what everyone wants to do, do everything possible to help their children.
Reading to children has been found to:
Help lower stress levels. Reading to your children can help them to let their mind wander to new places and away from anything that might be on their mind. It has also been found to help reduce heart rate when reading. Also, if children are cuddling up to their parents whilst reading, this helps to reduce cortisol levels which helps people relax.
Improve logic skills. Reading to your child can help them learn to pick out patterns in stories, especially if is a book or writer that they are fond of. These skills can help them later at school. Picking out patterns can help in maths and English, reading to your child can help them to learn how to think logically.
Encourage a love of reading. If you have a passion for books and you want to encourage your child to follow in your footsteps then reading to them from an early age is a great way to do so. Reading to them in a relaxed setting can help them to associate reading with something nice and comforting. This can help to start a life-long love of literature.
Contribute to children’s brain development. It has been found by American Academy of Paediatrics that there is a high positive correlation between reading and neural activation in the left-sided parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. It has been described as a ‘hub’ region of supporting semantic language processing. Reading bedtime stories to your children could help them to develop language skills through sounds, words and pictures.
Enhance children’s communication and language skills. Before or after reading with your child, you can encourage them to talk about the book you are reading. Through these conversations and by reading itself, communication skills can be improved. Making reading interactive can help to get your child talking more and help to improve both their reading but also speaking.
So there we are, some great reasons to why we should be reading to children before bed. But, what should you read?
What are the best children’s stories?
Now this is a hotly debated subject and one that will go on for the rest of time. For now though, we have compiled a list of our top 5 favourite children’s stories that are perfect for bedtime reading for your children. We feel that our list has a good mix of classic and modern stories that you and your children will love.
5. The Twits by Roald Dahl
We couldn’t have a top five list of children’s books and not mention Roald Dahl now, could we? The Twitshas been a family favourite for many years and it is easy to see why. Mr. and Mrs. Twit are always playing mean practical jokes on each other and being cruel to their monkey Muggle-Wump. With the help of local birds, Muggle-Wump and family plan their escape and revenge on the Twits.
Also incredibly illustrated by Quentin Blake, you and your children will love reading the twisting and melodic lines and looking at the legendary and funny illustrations.
4. Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne
At number four we have Winnie-The-Pooh. This fun loving, chuckling bear has been delighting children and adults for nearly the last 100 years.
Join Pooh Bear and his friends in Hundred Acre Woods and read about their adventures, friendship, fun and pure children’s imagination. Inspire your child’s imagination with this classic story and introduce a whole new series of books that we know your child will love reading with you.
3. The Other Edie Trimmer by Jacqueline Wilson
The legendary children’s author is back with another gripping story about a young girl who obsesses over everything Victorian. In The Other Edie Trimmer, Edie is given a real Victorian notebook. When she starts to write in it though, something strange happens and she finds herself in Victorian London. She soon realises that she is living the life of another Edie Trimmer and is in danger of being sent to a real Victorian workhouse.
This adventure story about friendship and family will be loved by children of all ages.
2. Where in the World Are You? By Marie G. Rhode
Taking the penultimate spot on our list, we have Where in the World Are You?
The idea of this book through the main character of a cute black cat introduces children to the idea that there is more than what lies in their immediate environment. The colourful and bold illustrations will take you and your children on a step-by-step journey through the universe with the cute black cat.
1. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter
Number one on our list and our favourite children’s story is, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. This much-loved classic book is still as enjoyable to read now as we can imagine it was in 1908 when it was written.
The adventure will see you join Jemima in unwitting the wily farmyard fox at Hill Top Farm as she tries to lay her eggs in peace. Little does she know that someone on the farm is planning a dinner or roast duck!
These are our favourites but, obviously everyone has their own top list of books to read with their children. These books are great for taking a few days or maybe even weeks to read through before bedtime but what about short stories for children that only take ten or fifteen minutes?
Short stories for children
It is getting near your child’s bedtime and you want to read them a story but you are conscious where you left off will take another half an hour to get somewhere you can stop. What do you do?
You are in need of a short story that can entertain your child for 15 minutes and help them ease off to sleep. But where do you get them from?
In most bookshops you will find collections of short stories. And yes, they will be great to have kicking around the house for a while but the problem is though, once you have reread the short stories over and over, it could become a little boring for both you and your child – we think it will probably get boring for your first though!
And once you read through them you will be left with stack and stacks of books which you can obviously give away, swap or donate to a charity, but do you really want that hassle?
There are plenty of online services that offer free short children’s stories that will make it easier for you to quickly find a story and read it directly from your phone or tablet within 15 minutes to your child at bedtime.
So, we have looked at why reading is good for you and your child, our favourite children’s stories and where to find free short children’s stories. It is now down to you to carry on benefitting the lives of your children with the simple task of reading with them.