Bedtime stories are such a precious ritual for children and parents everywhere. After a day of noisy chaos, quiet dimly lit rooms around the world offer a peaceful backdrop as children have their imaginations pushed one last time before drifting off to sleep. This nightly tradition offers parents (especially those who work), a crucial opportunity to bond whilst offering the child a valuable and fun lesson in development and language. Story time is also to us and so many parents we know, an integral part of a routine – Edie knows she has a bath, then stories and then goes to sleep. It’s been like this as long as I can remember and such a tradition will be repeated all over the world.
I’m a firm believer that story time has been key to Edie’s development. Even from the very early months when we tried introducing a routine to Edie’s evenings, story time was an essential part of it. She obviously didn’t understand a word I was saying and often she would drift off even before I’d turned the first page, but I still persevered.
I’d heard that reading to babies is important for a number of reasons. Despite obviously not understanding the words and certainly not the plot, a baby will pick up changes in tone, varying speeds and how sentences and language are structured. Also, talking through and pointing out pictures was a vital part of Edie’s recognition and first few words. With so many touchy-feely books also available where babies can feel the differing materials and sensations, every evening felt like a progressive success. Three years on and Edie now obviously understands plots, knows stories word for word and will stop me if she hears vocabulary she doesn’t recognise (and then demand a definition!). With such flamboyant books available now, each story is an incredibly fun way to learn. Plus the best bit is, Edie and I get to cherish such a private and precious time together at the end of a long day.
Like many children she’s enjoyed old favourites such as Whatever Next, Five Minutes Peace, The Elephant and The Bad Baby, Beatrix Potter and pretty much anything by Julia Donaldson. But now she also adores the silliness of books like Poo Bum and Stupid Baby too. I've listed some of her favourites below. I'm sure you've probably come across most of these but if you haven’t and need some inspiration, think about introducing them to your own precious night-time ritual…
That’s Not My… - a huge series of touchy-feely books from Usborne. The books were a great way to demonstrate different sensations plus the simple illustrations are striking for very young eyes.
Animal Opposites, Petr Horáček – a pop-up book with varying sizes of wonderful animal drawings. A great way to explain opposites whilst also recognising different animals.
Ten Chirpy Chicks, Debbie Tarbett – a bright cheery book that encourages counting.
I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen – despite not being a book you’d obviously read a baby, Edie adored this book from a very young age. I think it’s because of the array of great characters who are crying out for silly voices. Two years on she still loves the story… god damn that thieving rabbit!
Pom Pom Gets the Grumps, Sophy Henn – a witty end that Edie now knows is coming but that doesn’t stop her from laughing every time she hears it.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith Kerr – that cheeky Tiger! Comes round and eats all their food and then leaves. Reminds me of some people I know. More shockingly he drinks all daddy’s beer… Should never have let him in!
The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson – possibly the most famous children’s book of the last 15 years? The pace, language, rhyme and story are all perfect. I will always encourage Edie to have this at bedtime as I love it almost as much as her!
Poo Bum & Stupid Baby, Stephanie Blake – silly, funny, ridiculous. Edie loves these two books and despite knowing them inside out still laughs upon hearing the words ‘fart’ and ‘poo bum’ leaving my lips. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re certainly ours… Poo Bum to that!