I saw my neighbour playing and reading with her little granddaughter yesterday  out in the sunshine.                

It reminded me of shared moments when my kids were little, hot chocolate and stories at bedtime, cuddles and talking. Now it’s more hot chocolate, cuddles and chatting about all sorts of things that come up and the pleasure of sometimes gently passing down my wisdom to them in bite sized, manageable chunks that they can unconsciously take on board for when I’m gone.

I was on City Talk Radio in Liverpool the other day chatting about the importance of nursery rhymes and it reminded me about the importance of bedtime stories too. Reading bedtime stories with your children is a great way to bond, have fun and develop their language and communication skills. So here is a great article from Talking Tots about bedtime stories and if you’d like to find out more ways to communicate more effectively with your children and to develop their communication skills take a look at my Audio CD set and workbook here

12 Top Tips for Bedtime Stories

Reading bedtime stories with your children is a great way to bond, but did you know it’s also one of the best ways of boosting your little one’s communication skills?

Research shows that children who regularly read bedtime stories tend to perform better at school, have wider vocabularies and better imaginations. Yet almost a quarter of parents admit they struggle with the bedtime story routine.

Sadly, we can’t offer any magic way to get your children to agree to go to bed quietly,  ( but I can !!) but here are some tips on how to make the most of bedtime stories with your little ones:

1.Readingis a journey of exploration for babies. Curved corners are ideal for nibbling, while flaps and textures are irresistible to little fingers.

2. Animal stories are perfect for encouraging children to communicate before they can form words – encourage your baby to join in with animal sounds as you read the story.

3. At this age, reading is a visual experience, so look for books with bright, simple illustrations. Place your baby’s hands on objects as you read the words – this helps him to associate the object he sees with the spoken word.

4. Bedtime stories are a great way to teach children that words and language are fun! Lose your inhibitions and join in with silly voices, sound effects and funny faces.

5. As your baby gets older, he will love “naming” objects and pointing to pictures when prompted. This is a great way to build vocabulary and boost your baby’s confidence.

6. Toddlers are independent, so be sure to let them choose the story and take charge of turning pages.

7. When you’re reading, pause every so often to let your child guess the next word or line. This will be easier if the book has simple language with lots of rhyme and repetition. With a little practice, your child may even learn a favourite story by heart.

8. Look for books with rhymes. Learning about rhyming sounds is an important building block of literacy, and it helps children to guess what’s coming next. As she gets older, your toddler will love catching you out when you get the words wrong. This game helps to develop memory and attention skills, as well as boosting self-esteem.

9. At some point, you’ll probably find yourself reading the same book every night for a month. Don’t worry – repetition is a great memory-building tool, and a familiar book can be a great comfort to a tired toddler.

10. Younger toddlers tend to enjoy stories about everyday experiences they can relate to, but from the age of three, children begin to realise that things aren’t always what they seem. This makes it the perfect time to introduce stories with jokes and tricks – the sillier the better!

11. Always discuss stories with your children. In the early days, this might mean asking them to point to objects on the pages. As they get older, talk about what might happen next, or whether the characters in the story were happy or brave.

12. As your child nears school age, begin tracing words with your finger as you read. Ask your child to identify the sound that words start with, or words on the page that rhyme. These activities help develop pre-literacy skills, which are vital in helping children learn to read and write.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of bedtime stories, or see top-rated bedtime books for children of all ages, take a look at the Talking Tots Bedtime Tots website, packed with tips and recommendations of bedtime stories or check out their website here and blog here

 So have fun and build some lifelong memories – and who knows you might even relax and become a big kid again!

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