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Book and Bedtime: Building a Reader

Parent and baby reading a picture book as viewed from above.

“Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King

If we have ever had the opportunity to meet in real life, and the topic of books comes up, many will quickly learn that I’m a big bookworm. I’ve been a voracious reader from a young age and continue to find time to read each day. I feel that reading is such a unique hobby because there are endless options and something for everybody. One of my personal hopes as a parent is that my children will also develop a love of reading too. 

Reading Books and Bedtime Routine

For many parents, bedtime routines involve some combination of pajamas, diaper change, tooth brushing, a song and a snuggle. This is also an excellent time to incorporate reading a book together into the routine. Reading with your child has many benefits: assists with cognitive and language development, creativity and imagination growth, opportunity to teach life lessons and morals, and practicing listening skills. Most of all, however, is that reading presents an opportunity for parent-child bonding. When this reading is at the end of the day, we can take a bit of quiet time to relax away from the busyness of the day and connect. If you can find just 5 or 10 minutes in your bedtime routine to incorporate a book nightly, by the time your child is 5 years old, they will have read over 1,800 books. Sometimes this is the same book, multiple times, and that is totally okay! Kids love familiarity and repetition, so embrace the story, be a little silly and soak up the snuggle.

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Reading through the ages

When babies are first born, their vision is not fully developed, however reading a book with a soothing voice is very relaxing. As babies get a little bit older and vision sharpens, books with high contrast (black and white pictures) and simple designs are wonderful. At this age, board books and fabric books are useful because they’re sturdy and easy for little hands to hold. There are also fantastic books with “touch and feel” pages that serve a dual purpose as a sensory teaching tool.

With older babies and toddlers, reading together takes on a whole new level. There are lots of fun stories with rhyming sentences, opportunities for different voices and beautiful illustrations. For this age group, books provide new vocabulary words that might not be part of the day to day language in the home. It’s also a chance to practice animal sounds, colours, counting and categories. 

As children progress through preschool and early elementary ages, the picture book options are endless! This is a great age to find books which match your child’s interest and enjoy them as their reading skills develop. You can take turns each reading a sentence or a whole page. Additionally, the use of storytelling to teach a lesson or value is an amazing tool for this age group. At the end of your book, you can further connect with your child by asking questions about what you’ve read: how did the story make you feel? Who was your favourite character? What would you have done differently? What happens next? 

As children move away from picture books, the next options include early chapter books, graphic novels and young adult/teen genres. The sharing of books can continue if you want to sit down and read a chapter each night together, start a family book club or simply read in silence side by side. The quality time we can gain through books is incredible!

Finding books

Remember that bookstores are not your only option. Brand new books are fantastic, but so is visiting your local library or second-hand store. Our librarians are a valuable resource and can always find something to fit you and your child’s interest. Whether it’s fairytales and dragons, dinosaurs, artists, sports, detectives or just a very hungry caterpillar, there is something out there for everyone. A bedtime routine with books is simply the best! 

Sleep Consultant Taya Woychyshyn
Sleep Consultant Taya Woychyshyn

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