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.
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.
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.