Bedtime stories

Posted: October 11, 2013 in cultural commentary, reading
Tags: , , ,

I wrote recently about audiobooks and how they fit into the tradition of oral storytelling. And as so often happens, I realised after that post that I’d had a narrow viewpoint. As a result, I’d missed one of the places where the oral tradition is most vibrantly and excitingly alive.

I refer of course to bedtime stories.

picture by ChrysArt via Flickr creative commons

picture by ChrysArt via Flickr creative commons

Up the stairs to bed

Bedtime stories are a part of almost every childhood. A parent sat by the side of the bed, reading to their child, discussing what the book’s about. It’s a wonderful bonding experience, a chance for the child to develop a love of books. Maybe they do voices. Maybe the child joins in on the bits they know. It’s great fun.

I had first hand experience of this on Wednesday, when I told bedtime stories to my nieces, Ever-ready and the Princess. We had a picture book about sticking plasters, and a chapter from Philip Reeve‘s Larklight. Like in days of old, we gathered together for the story telling, sharing every spell-binding moment. It made me feel close to my nieces, gave us something to talk about the next morning (oh those villainous moobs!), and was the most fun I had all week.

Grown-ups too

Of course, bedtime stories aren’t only for children. Mrs K and I have, from time to time, read books to each other as we settle down for the night. Whether it’s sharing a particularly good passage from a novel, an interesting snippet from a factual book, or working our way through a story together a chapter at a time, it’s a relaxing way to end the day. I don’t know how many couples do this, but I do know that we’re not the only ones.

From the campfire to the bedroom

So I guess not much has changed. We’ve just moved our story-telling to a more comfortable location, and I’m happy with that.

Do you still enjoy a good bedtime story? What were your favourite bedtime stories as a child? Which ones are you reading with your kids now? Leave a comment below, gather round the digital campfire and share a tale.

  1. We recently finished reading the Thomas the Tank Engine stories (all 104 of them) to our son, and now we’re working the the Narnia books.

    It is a good bonding experience, and has probably contributed to his love of books and reading. I enjoy some of the stories, too 🙂

    • Narnia was one of the ones I really loved as a kid. My current reading habits are testament to how powerful those bedtime stories are – Tolkien and Lewis then, lots of fantasy now.

  2. It was always a great treat for me to have the opportunity to read my niece her bedtime story – sadly it happened too rarely. I have wonderful memories of bed time stories when I was small, most particularly my grandfather reading to us, with voices for the characters, when he visited, and my father making up stories for us, sometime drawing pictures while telling. being the eldest of three, I was able to join in listening when the younger ones had stories read to them so the nightly treat went on much longer for me than it might have done. These days I do still read before settling to sleep, but only to myself,and not always a story (but short stories as ideal for this so very popular with me).

  3. skudssister says:

    One of the highlights of my job is to do ‘story time’ – I’m really looking forward to the half-term week/hallowe’en when I will be telling stories and dressing up (the witchy black tights with orange spiders I think…..I can’t be a pirate *every* time.

  4. I often read about people in the profession I belong to having the job of reading stories to young listeners in a library session, and calling that “work”. Very envious! And no wonder the extreme breadth of work activity across the profession causes strain from time to time.

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