How Important is Story Time in the Evening?

Parents and teachers intuitively know that children benefit from being read to, but how important actually is story time?

The science has proven that reading to children benefits them immediately and in the future! Children who are read to have:

  • Better language skills – Quality literature improves language understanding, grammar, and sentence structure
  • Increased vocabulary – Quality literature exposes children to a wide vocabulary and better understanding of words
  • Improved literacy – Research shows a strong connection between reading aloud to children and advanced literacy skills. 
  • Emotional bonding with parents – positive connections are made between a parent and the child during read-aloud

Here are a few suggestions for finding time slots for reading to your child. Be sure to read to the end to learn the best time of day to read to your child!

Early Morning Reading

Every child is different. Some are bouncing off the walls as soon as they wake up, while others are sleepy and want to cuddle. If your child is an early-morning cuddler, then this is an excellent time to read with your child!

What a sweet rhythm to have with your child first thing in the morning. Cozy up with a blanket, some books, and something to drink or eat. This will quickly become one of your favorite parts of the day and cherished memories.

Even if your child is like an unleashed tiger in the early morning, you can still have early morning reading. It can even be an excellent way to teach your child self-regulation. Children want to engage with you, and while you might not be ready to wrestle at 6 A.M., they may be willing to snuggle up with a good book. 

Mid-Morning Reading

By mid-morning, babies are ready for their first nap of the day and young children have burned through their energy from breakfast. For babies, taking just a few minutes to read to them before naptime is a signal to them that it’s time to sleep. You can even read to them while they drink their bottle!

Young children may have burned through their breakfast energy and are poking around for something to do or eat. Children need to engage with their parents frequently and often turn to their parents to help them regulate their emotions. This might take the form of mischief or whining, so it can be easy to turn to technology or snacks to get over the mid-morning hump.

However, remember that children want to engage with you, not technology. Taking a few minutes to read will give them the emotional regulation their bodies are craving, and you may be surprised that they aren’t as needy for technology or snacks as you previously thought. Often after reading, children are regulated and ready to choose their next activity with cheerfulness and independence. 

Before Nap Time

Babies, toddlers, and young children should have regular naps. Often, children of these ages will take a nap in the early afternoon. This is another perfect time to sneak in some reading!

As your child starts to slow down, choose quieter activities, or zone out, initiate some reading time. Take the child to a cozy spot such as their bed or a rocking chair, and read one to three books. This further relaxes your child, gives them a visual timeline of when it’s time to nap (“This is our last book!”), and helps them fall asleep faster. 

After Nap Time

Some kids struggle to wake up from a nap. They can be grouchy, sleepy, or whiney. But cuddling and reading a book while eating a snack is sure to chase away the nap-time blues! mother, woman, people, hug, supportive

Similar to early morning reading, cuddling with your child and reading a book helps ease them into wakefulness again. A healthy snack or drink also helps gently raise blood sugar and mood so they are cheerful after reading together. 

Before Bed 

Science is now showing that reading before bed is the best time to read with your child. In one study, reading at bedtime significantly improved total nighttime sleep duration. If there’s one thing parents want, it’s for their kids to sleep deeper and longer!

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With sleepiness to keep them relaxed and fighting sleepiness to keep them alert and engaged, reading at bedtime gives you the best bang for your buck. Reading with your child before bed helps establish a stable routine, promotes bonding, and gets them into a sleepy state of mind to fall asleep–and stay asleep!