Do you read a bedtime story to your child?
Did you read one last night?
A recent survey of 2000 parents of children aged 0-7 years,
by Littlewoods clothing and homeware retailer in Britain,
showed that only 64% of parents do.
It also said that only 13% read a story every night.
9% were too stressed to read one.
I do understand that figures can in fact be deceiving,
and the results misread,
but it would appear that many parents are no longer reading to their children.
Despite the fact that 94% remember being read to as children.
They also stated that over half of the parents who replied,
said that their children were more engaged by TV, electronic toys and games.
Amazingly 4% said their children owned no books at all.
This saddens me greatly.
One of the greatest “gifts” my parents gave me,
was the love of a story and reading.
I can remember sharing my mums lap with my brother,
so it must indeed be a very early memory.
She would tell us a story she made up.
It was the tale of a cunning fox and a little Jackal,
which always ended in tragedy.
If I sit still enough I can hear her still telling the story,
with her soft County Donegal, Irish accent.
“I’m so tired” said the fox as he swam across the stream,
with the wee jackal on his back,
“I think I’m just going to roll over”.
She always put particular emphasis in the “roll” so it was more “rooooooll over”.
My brother and I would look up at my mum and shout,
“Oh no, please don’t”.
The level of success of the story directly related to how upset we were,
dragging out the anticipation of the inevitable over some time.
Eventually that sly old fox would roll over,
“and the poor wee jackal would be gone”.
As I grew older we regularly visited the local library,
and spent time wandering about choosing books.
I never remember a time I had nothing to read.
There were all the Enid Blyton books,
The Famous Five, Secret Seven, and Fabulous Four,
not to forget the Twins at St Clairs.
However the book I remember most vividly from my childhood,
was the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
I can still remember the surprise I got when I realised,
the previous nights reading had in fact,
only taken up a moment of time.
It was my first experience of real magic,
and the power of a book to take you somewhere you could not even dream of.
My youngest is now eleven,
and most nights we still read her a story.
We had well stopped reading to our other children by this age.
A while back I read The secret garden for her.
It was magical as I could see that in time to come,
that book for her was the equivalent,
of what The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was for me.
She spoke in wonder for days about the ending.
Reading to her has also opened up to me,
the wealth of magnificent books there are out there for children.
New authors and titles I’d never before read.
The books she may one day re read with her children.
Reading a bedtime story at night to my children,
has been about so much more than reading.
Lying beside them, snuggling up close,
sharing those last few moments of the day.
Watching them as they listen intently to the story,
and finally the inevitable, “Oh please mum, just one more chapter”.
Leaving them tucked up in bed,
with the characters still buzzing in their heads.
Hopefully storing up memories that will ensure,
that in their futures, they forever continue to make the effort,
to read to our next generation,
and instill in them a love of reading and stories,
just as my parents did.
How sad to imagine a future world without the magic of a bedtime story.