Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Book at Bedtime

Parents, do you you want to give your pre-school kids a head start? Guardian science correspondent James Randerson, writes that researchers who have reviewed studies on the effects of reading have found that sharing a bedtime story with your kids :
... promotes their motor skills, through learning to turn the pages, and their memory. It also improves their emotional and social development. ... children who are read to from an earlier age have better language development and tend to have better language scores later in life. Most important ... is that reading aloud is a period of shared attention and emotion between parent and child. This reinforces reading as a pleasurable activity.
(The original article appeared in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.)

Sadly, I think many parents here don't read to their children. Sometimes because they just don't have time. (Or is that an excuse?) But I suspect more often because they were not read to themselves as children - so it feels a bit strange to strike out and do things differently.

And they may not actually know how to go about it. (A friend of mine, Saradha, is actually a college lecturer who gives lessons to parents in how to read to their kids! And yes, they need it.) There's some useful advice here and here.

Or they may not know what to read. (Do drop by Daphne's blog for reading suggestions.)

So let's do a quick poll - were you read to as a kid? And if you have them - what are you reading to your kids?

After thought :

I wonder - is bedtime reading less common here because kids here don't really have a regular , set bed-time as they do in the West where most kids are packed off really early? Anyway, there's no need to read to kids just at bed-time ...

(Picture by Vanessa Cabban and nicked from here.)

21 comments:

Lydia Teh said...

My mum didn't read to me. She wasn't educated, she picked up Chinese on her own by going through her brother's books.

But I read to my kids when they were toddlers/preschoolers. When they've learnt to read, I get them to read to me. Nursery rhymes and good old tales such as the Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood are favourites. My kids have gone through bible reading at bedtime at some stage in their young life. My youngest is now reading a kiddy bible before bedtime. Nightly reading is hard to adhere to, due to time constrain and other factors (like when Mummy just don't feel like it). But off-and-on is better than never!

Anbalagan said...

I grew up in a family that could not afford books..so there's a worthwhile project for some NGO to do- get books to those young 'uns who cannot afford them. My parents just barely survived registering us for the exams- my family bicycle even went to the pawnshop to pay for my SPM exam fees ( yes, this happened in those bad old days)
But when I had kids(twins), I read to them every single night, before bedtime, in a one room low cost house, on a rickety bed with a single bulb overhead. I read them library books, books on astronomy, books on science ( I didnt have enough money to buy proper "children's books way back then) books on books- whatever. But I tried to dramatize them, make them sound like they were the most amazing secrets that I wanted to share. It is amazing to think that I had all that energy once.
And 20 years later, my kids are all readers, never had problems with language while studying ,never lacked self confidence, like I did, and think that reading to your kids is a natural process of parenthood. Of course, they also talk a lot and argue with us for everything but sometimes that is the small price , I think you pay, for making them independent readers.

Chet said...

My mum also didn't read to us when we were little but she did subscribe to a children's magazine for us. It was in Chinese and had comics in full colour. Everytime an issue arrived, my siblings and I would fight over who got to read it first and me, being the youngest, got to be the first. I remember the back issues were kept inside a glass-fronted cabinet and I would get a copy to read while on the potty. Dang ... wish I'd kept the copies but I guess I was too young to appreciate them then.

animah said...

I can't remember but my mum must have read to me. I just remember that I would read myself while falling asleep. I read to my younger sister or made up stories for her after the lights went out.

I now read to my daughter EVERY night (unless I'm out). We start with a bargaining session. She piles 5 books on the bed, I say two, and in the end read three. And its always the same books every night.

Until they learn to read themselves, yes they remember the lines spot on. She covers the words as I read to see if I got them right. I'm wrong (cos I'm not forced to remember) and she's always right.

Nowdays we read: The Naughtiest Ever Fairy's Naughty Friend; I Love You Stinky Face and Margaret Attwood's Princess Priscilla and the Purple Peanut where almost every word begins with "p".

animah said...

Believe me, there are times I've fallen asleep while reading out aloud.

june said...

I was lucky - my parents love to read as well, so we grew up in a house of books. Yes, my mom read to us when we were toddlers but as we grew older, we preferred to read on our own. By the time I was in Grade 1, we had at least 3 library membership cards (British Council, state library, etc..) that were well-used! My mom would drop us off at the library during the weekends and we were very happy..

animah said...

Check out this site for books read out loud
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/kids/bigtoe/

msiagirl said...

I was lucky my mum read to me when I was little, I started reading on my own quite young and didn't get a book at bedtime anymore, I think I probably thought I should have pretended...but soon they had no more time to read in the evenings. We had endless library books. I wanted to be a librarian.

I love reading to my kids every night - my 10 year old still likes an occasional chapter even though she's perfectly capable.

Just read Pippi Longstocking to my youngest - she's 8 - she thinks Pippi is MAAAD! and we laugh a lot together. Anything by Kes Grey is subversive - he/she pokes sly fun at parental hypocrisy - "Don't do as I do, do as I say." Pretty fun - the little girl is called Daisy and the book is "You Do",or "Eat Your Peas" about bribery. Hope you can get them...

Anonymous said...

My mum taught me how to read on my own. That's much better IMHO, not as dependent.

animah said...

I LURVE Pippi Longstocking!

Anonymous said...

I am reading 'The very hungry caterpillar' to my 4 month old. He wants to eat it. Jane Sunshine

bibliobibuli said...

enjoyed reading about everyone else's experiences!

anbalagan - your story really moved and inspired me - and yes, kids that argue back is definitely a by-product of encouraging reading!

anon who said your mum taught you to read and in the long term that's better - it's great your mum taught you but ... how old were you when you learned to read? two? three? four? reading to kids can start as when they are babies with simple picture books, even before they can talk. that's really the message this research delivers. get in there before kids can read for themselves to reap the benefits, and then keep going ...

bibliobibuli said...

jane sunshine - four months already? i bet you were reading to him when he was still a bump in your tummy.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Do people think foetuses can hear even if they lack functional ears ?

bibliobibuli said...

why not?

animah said...

I'm paraphrasing here, but Margaret Attwood dedicated her "Princess Prunella [sorry not Priscilla as stated earlier] and the Purple Peanut" to "My Mother, who read to me; My Daughter who I read to".

Anon, foetuses can hear. It's been proven. I take it you've never one inside you.

Anonymous said...

That's odd. that seems to imply that people can hear even if they don't have ears. Ears don't have an evolutionary reason to exist then ? do adults who don't have ears hear just as well as adults who have ears ?

And what about the marketing possibilities inherent in that ? that's practically mind altering isn't it ? Imagine for instance, a place where pregnant mothers exercise. A musician might pay to play his music there, might he not ? (that's assuming it's appropriate of course)

Anonymous said...

Someone who pays someone else to teach them how to read to their kids -- only in Malaysia ? :)

Madcap Machinist said...

a) foetuses can hear. they pick up vibrations from the outside world through the womb.

b) evolutionarily speaking, it's not necessary to have "ears" at all-- at least these funnels that stick out of our heads. Some frogs, lizards and snakes hear with their lungs (though technically they have inner ears); some fish have something called Weberian ossicles that connect their swimbladders (gas pouch) to their inner ears so theoretically they pick up vibrations there too; dolphins have small holes for ears, but also picks up vibrations through a "fat-ear" their jaw i.e. they literally hear with their skulls; elephants listen with their feet...

bibliobibuli said...

and one top classical percussionist, evelyn glennie, is completely deaf. she performs barefoot so she can pick up vibrations through her feet.

Madcap Machinist said...

Helen Keller (deaf, blind and mute) listened to the radio with her hands. Her sense of touch was so finely attuned that apparently she could tell the different instruments apart!