Dear Little Ones at Bedtime

Dear Little Ones,

The hour approaches when your grown-up will try to con you into bed so they can have some alone time with their wine.  Early planning is the key here.

  1.  Make sure you don’t eat all of your tea so that you have room to eat several biscuits which your grown-up will use as a bribe to get you in to bed.
  2. Make sure you don’t consume any fluids past 14:00hrs so that you have room for a drink which your grown-up will use as a bribe to get you in to bed.  Remember to sip slowly, not gulp.
  3. Wake up a bit early from your afternoon nap and use the time to hide your pyjamas and the toy that you can’t possibly sleep without.
  4. Get upstairs first and trash your room.  The tidying will take forever.  See picture for brilliant example of this.
  5. Make sure you’ve got several story books to hand just by the bed and prepare for tantrum mode if they try to get away with reading just one.  Infact, have a sneaky extra one in the bed under the covers.

Points 1,2, 3 and 4 of the plan are straight forward.  Point 5 however can literally keep you out of bed for hours with a bit of toddler cunning.

You see kids, grown-ups know that they should be reading to you every day and that a bedtime story routine is essential if you are to develop the early language skills that will eventually turn into reading skills that will eventually turn into reading for pleasure that will eventually turn into reading A-level physics books.  However the allure of wine is strong and sometimes grown-ups will try to curb their reading habits to get back to their wine quickly.  Early symptoms are:

  • Your grown-up is reading really fast
  • Your grown-up is only reading every other page
  • Your grown-up is not doing funny voices for the characters
  • Your grown-up is muttering words under their breath when the page won’t turn.  One sounds like ‘duck’; ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhh’ – are they trying to say sugar?


After all, your unreasonable demands are actually doing them a favour.  When you start school your teacher won’t judge your grown-up on whether or not they’re wearing make-up or even if they’ve brushed their hair (or your hair).  They’ll even understand if you’re a bit late every now and then.  What they will judge your grown-up on is whether or not they’ve read to you every day.  Teachers can tell the kids who have and haven’t been read to at home because the latter have a much larger vocabulary and better phonological awareness which is ‘posh talk’ for better language skills; better language skills makes it easier for your teacher to teach you how to read.  The difference is “very noticeable.”

So you make them read to you properly and drag it out.  Eek out as many stories as possible because in the long term it will make you cleverer which means you’ll get a better job which means that when they retire you’ll be able to afford their crazy wine drinking expenses.

Seriously, what would they do without you.

Lot’s of love

Sarah Cantrill


A Note to Grown-ups

There is a wealth of evidence that reading to children at least once a day increases their language and literacy skills and indeed gets them ready for the day they start to read.  There is also evidence that it increases children’s IQ.  By whole points!

Start from the day that they’re born.  If birth was complicated then start as soon as possible afterwards and certainly the first time you put your baby down at ‘bedtime’ include a story.  Teeny tiny babies are shown to develop language skills much quicker if read to.  You won’t get much back but I promise you it’s all going in.

At Story Storks, having reviewed the evidence, we suggest that for babies you read a rhyming book (which enhances their phonological awareness) and that you read the same book at bedtime for a whole week (because the repetition has also been shown to be essential in how children learn).  I did this with my kids and it worked a treat.  Julia Donaldson books are great for this with Tabby McTat being one of my favourite books of all time.

Once children are old enough to choose the story for themselves then they should do so.  Being able to choose their own books is a fundamental in creating a culture of reading for pleasure and your local library is a great place to do that.  You may not approve of your child’s choice but this is about them – we want them to develop their own tastes and learn for themselves.  If that means reading the same book over and over then plaster that fake smile on your face and imagine the amazing wine that your child will buy you in your old age!

Don’t forget to have fun!  They won’t read if they don’t think it’s fun!












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