One of my most treasured childhood memories is of having bedtime stories read to me by my grandmother. I remember not only the stories, but also the cuddles on the couch while receiving her undivided attention. When it comes to children, spending time with them is one of the best ways to influence their development positively.
Why is storytime for kids important?
A daily activity like storytime with your child is not just about the story. It’s about the sense of intimacy, well-being, and the feelings of safety and security that the child experiences during this time. Reading books aloud will benefit babies who feel reassured and connected when hearing familiar voices even though they may not understand the words.
Most children love storytime. In the short term, storytime for kids provides an opportunity for parent-child bonding. It introduces children to new words and concepts such as colors, shapes, numbers, and rhyming in a fun way and builds listening, learning, and concentration skills. Stories for kids often include lessons about different life experiences and about the world they live in.
Children’s storytime includes reading from books as well as telling stories about familiar people or your culture. However, reading from a book introduces kids to basic concepts of reading, such as how to hold a book, how to turn the pages, and the fact that stories are read from left to right (in most languages) and top to bottom of each page.
Children also learn how to examine the pictures in a book for clues about the story. When read with expression, stories help kids learn to recognize what other people are feeling. By asking questions as you read, for example, “What do you think is going to happen next?” your child is able to engage their imagination and master the concept of a storyline that progresses from one stage to the next until the story reaches an ending.
Storytime promotes brain development and imagination. Stories stimulate children’s curiosity. They also provide a way to teach children about the difference between real and make-believe. Many children’s stories are written to help children understand events that may be frightening or new and the emotions that these experiences may cause.
Creating a regular bedtime storytime (or any other consistent time set aside for reading) provides children with a sense of security and routine.
Toddlers’ storytime can be challenging. These little bundles of energy may not have reached the developmental maturity required to sit still and concentrate. The important thing is to persevere and establish a storytime ritual. Toddlers may not want to sit still on your lap and that’s okay.
Make storytime fun, recite rhymes, choose colorful and engaging books, and keep your sessions short. Bedtime may be the ideal time for storytime for toddlers as they are sleepy and winding down from their day.
Some of the reading to toddler benefits include:
- Vocabulary improvement
- Learning that symbols and words on a page have meaning
- Knowing that stories follow a pattern
- Spending quality time with you
Storytime in early childhood is one of the pillars of later academic success. The benefits of storytime for preschoolers include:
- Social opportunities. Storytime provides children with a chance to interact with others. A well-written story will provide characters that your kids can relate to and a lesson they can learn. As they listen to you or a teacher read, they can offer input on how they think the story will unfold. And by pausing to ask questions, you can engage their critical thinking skills.
- Positive attitude towards reading. Reading is a skill used throughout life. In the early stages, children learn how to read (as a skill in itself). They require this skill to be able to read for meaning as they begin to learn new things. By reading with your child, you encourage a love of reading and developing the literacy skills needed for future learning.
- Listening skills and vocabulary enrichment. Storytime for children provides the opportunity to introduce them to new words, thereby enriching their own vocabularies. Children also need to listen, sit still, focus, and pay attention to details to follow the story. These skills are necessary for school readiness.
- Expanded horizons. Stories are not always about what is familiar. Reading lets children come up with new ideas and introduces them to new concepts. It allows them to learn about unfamiliar places and cultures. As children learn new things, they can relate better to the world around them.
Storytime with older kids
For slightly older kids, one of the benefits of storytime is the chance to read and discuss outdated or uncomfortable concepts appearing in classic or older literature before they encounter these concepts and ideas when reading alone. Children’s bedtime stories provide an excellent opportunity to wind down from the busyness of the day and spend some quality time together before bed.
Building a foundation for the future
By having a regular storytime schedule and reading to and with your kids, you develop a close bond with them, motivate them to eventually read on their own, and build the foundational skills they will require for future reading success.
And if you don’t always have time to sit down with your kids to read a physical book, why not try some of these excellent storytime channels on YouTube?