As you know, we love reading books and story time at the end of the day is one of my favourite times. There is nothing better than a cuddle and enjoying our favourite books together. Therefore, we are delighted to be part of the M & S Bedtimes Stories Campaign.
We generally always read bedtime stories every night. We have all sorts of books but our topic books are in book boxes. At the moment we have been reading Christmas and Winter themed stories. Every night I usually let the girls choose a book each, we will read a short board or picture book to Isabelle who is 2, then a longer picture book ro Caitlyn, 5 and an older picture book or chapter from a book to Rebecca, 7. Sometimes the girls read their school books to me first, if not, they will join in and help me read their books to them.
Rebecca will often continue reading stories to the girls while I go and see Danny. He is ten so reads to himself, but sometimes we will do “paired reading” and read a page each, or as he’s getting more tired he’ll relax as I finish the chapter he has started, or we’ll just talk about what he is reading.
I love it and will never feel guilty about my kids spending too much time reading, although I admit that I wouldfeel guilty if I felt they had too much screen time and definitely think this needs to be limited.
When you read a book together, you really share the experience and interact together. When my kids are on a tablet or watching kids tele I sometimes feel that I am “losing them” and definitely find it hard to get their attention.
The screen time we do enjoy together is usually a film at the cinema or a family DVD. I think this is because, like a book, there is a beginning and an end. At the end of a story, we feel relaxed, fulfilled and maybe thoughtful about the story that we have read together. Also, this never replaces our bedtime story, it just enhances it.
However, on a computer or tablet, there is no clear beginning or end. If Danny is allowed on it for 45 minutes at the weekend, he finds it very difficult to come off it at that time. I will tell him to stop when the video or game finishes, but when it finishes he will be tempted to click on another one and another, and it really can cause problems in our house.
I find as a parent that after a bedtime story, my kids feel grateful that I have read it to them, but after time on the tablet they feel resentful that their time is up.
I was pleased that over Christmas (apart from New Years Eve) I still managed to read to the girls before bedtime, even while we stayed at Nanny’s house and were having late nights.
However, they also had more screen time than they normally do during the Christmas Holidays. I wasn’t limiting it as much and found without this they were often slipping back into the routine of “needing” the tablet or they became bored”. Recent research into the decline of children’s reading shows that: “for most children, screen time is habitual. They are often over-stimulated by screens, rarely offline; some carry a device 24/7. Children flit from one form of entertainment to another and media meshing (using multiple devices simultaneously) is the norm. I find this very sad and we discouraged it by getting the kids involved in family games.
I know that you can read stories and books on screen, but it is not the same as holding a beautiful book. Danny has books on his tablet, so he can read them on long journeys, but I would not allow him to read them at bedtime, as he would find it over stimulating- especially if he ended up on games or videos instead of his reader!
When a child is reading a book on their own, you can tell at a glance what they are doing, but with screen time, you really have to monitor it well as a parent.
We loved all of these books. Caitlyn is already a big Winnie the Witch fan,and this special edition hardback edition is one she will treasure forever.
“My Big Readalong Fairytale Book” was perfect for the girls as Caitlyn could read the simple sentences on one page, and Rebecca and I could read the main text.
We love Paddington Bear, so our mini cuddly was allowed out of his suitcase to read about his adventures with us. The books came in a suitcase shaped pack so that was a nice touch too.
The book of Magical Christmas Stories was enchanting. As well as the traditional Christmas Story, it also contained “The Night Before Christmas”, which is a must read for Christmas Eve, “The Nutcracker”, which the girls adore, and other Christmas stories.
“Hello Santa” was a fun book with lovely pictures and a wonderful pop up light up scene at the end.
Whenever we read books together, it always inspires my children to use their imagination and make something, write a story or play a fun role play game based on the story. There is no end to their imagination. It also increases their concentration in a positive way.
I will still allow my older children to use a tablet as it is a useful skill which they make use of in school, but it will always be limited and will NEVER replace their bedtime (or indeed any time) story.
Thanks to M & S for sending us these lovely books and pyjamas and also for helping to protect children’s bedtime.