5 Benefits of Bedtime Stories (for Kids of All Ages)

Mother and daughter reading in bed
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It's not unusual to read bedtime stories to young children, but the practice often begins to taper off as kids get older, particularly once they can read independently. Reading aloud offers a variety of benefits to older children, however, and making it a bedtime ritual can have added benefits.

1. Improves a child’s vocabulary

Children are able to comprehend higher level vocabulary and follow a more complex plot long before they can read it on their own.

Bedtime stories – particularly once you advance to chapter books – provide an opportunity to expose children to a wider range of new words whose meaning they can infer through context, expanding their spoken and contextual vocabulary immensely.

Some of the most articulate kids I know are the children of a friend who regularly snuggled up with her kids in bed to read books such as Lord of the Rings – one of her personal favorites - to her children from the time they were preschoolers.

We often mistakenly think that the only books children will enjoy are picture books, but they often enjoy much more complex stories. An added bonus for parents is that these more "grown up" books capture our interest, too. (Although I definitely have a list of beloved children’s books that I’ll never outgrow!)

2. Improves a child’s attention span

Reading aloud requires children to imagine the scenes in their minds.

Unlike watching TV or using electronics, listening to a book being read aloud requires that children pay attention to descriptive writing as the story slowly unfolds through the author’s words. 

Encourage your children to create their own illustrations or movies in their minds as they listen to the stories you're reading.

3. Provides an educational opportunity

I’m not one to advocate trying to turn every waking moment into an educational opportunity, but learning does happen all the time and reading aloud at bedtime is the perfect time to capitalize on that. A parent typically finds a captive audience in children who want to prolong the inevitable lights-out time.

Additionally, a well-written historical fiction or novel set in the time period you’re currently studying allows children to absorb facts while being captivated by an engrossing tale. My daughter and I have fond memories of reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series as bedtime stories. We gleaned much about pioneer and farm life of the 1800’s.

The Magic Tree House books are another series that make an engaging bedtime story while imparting a wealth of information.

4. Provides snuggle time

I don’t care how old your kids get or how they might act otherwise, they enjoy some quiet downtime with their parents. Maybe teens won’t want to snuggle, but they still enjoy some shoulder-to-shoulder time with a parent. Reading provides an opportunity (or excuse) to relax and enjoy a shared experience together.

Sometimes a bedtime read aloud sets the stage for conversation and shared confidences that may not have occurred otherwise.

5. Allows for family connections

Reading aloud creates family connections. Perhaps it’s an inside joke based on something in a book that you both (or all) found amusing or a quote that becomes a standard in your family’s vocabulary. 

It may just be the warm memories of snuggling up together enjoying a good story. Several years ago, my son and I bonded over the shared nerdiness of the Star Wars Jedi Apprentice series. Those were special times because the series was one of only a handful of books my son ever wanted me to read to him. I soon got engrossed in the stories and we both looked forward to snuggling in his bed to read together each night.

It’s been years since we read the Little House books, but my youngest daughter and I still giggle a bit squeamishly about Laura and Mary arguing over who got to eat the pig’s tail and playing with the bladder like a balloon when it was time to slaughter the pigs.

Just because your child has outgrown board and picture books does not mean he's outgrown bedtime stories - and don't think that bedtime stories for your young children mean only the same children's book on repeat each night. 

Bedtime stories have multiple benefits for children of all ages.

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Bales, Kris. "5 Benefits of Bedtime Stories (for Kids of All Ages)." ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2016, thoughtco.com/benefits-of-bedtime-stories-for-kids-of-all-ages-1833369. Bales, Kris. (2016, February 11). 5 Benefits of Bedtime Stories (for Kids of All Ages). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/benefits-of-bedtime-stories-for-kids-of-all-ages-1833369 Bales, Kris. "5 Benefits of Bedtime Stories (for Kids of All Ages)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/benefits-of-bedtime-stories-for-kids-of-all-ages-1833369 (accessed September 23, 2017).