Reading shouldn't just be reserved for bedtime

Lots of children’s books are designed to be soothing and calming and prepare your child for sleep – which is exactly what you want at bedtime.

Your child is tired and grumpy, you’re ready for winding down, energy sapped from a busy day. But what about all those wonderful books just crying out for silly voices and actions or those books that offer the opportunity for really good discussion or debate?

You don’t want to get your child all excited at bedtime by a hilarious performance of 'Oi Frog', nor do you want to stimulate lots of discussion from Pippa Goodhart’s brilliant book 'You Choose'. What you understandably want is for your child to wind down and fall asleep.

So children AND books get short-changed!

How many times have you seen the bedtime book as a ‘function’, picked the shortest book you could find or even tried to skip a few pages? Are you really showing your child the fun and magic of books through a quick bedtime read?

Children are often a captive audience at bedtime – they engage with you because it’s putting off having to go to sleep; would they engage so well on a Saturday morning? Or would they rather be doing something else?

Choosing to read over other activities

Part of being a reader is sometimes choosing to read rather than watch TV, surf the internet or play football, for example. It isn’t about being forced to read because there’s no other option. Only ever reading at bedtime subconsciously relays the message that there is a time and place for having a book; that it isn’t ‘normal’ to turn off the TV and read. Children mimic their parents’ behaviour – do your children ever see you randomly picking up a book?

Make books readily available

Growing a love of reading takes more than quickly reading a book at bedtime. Create an environment where reading is encouraged at any time of the day - lots of schools have introduced DEAR - Drop Everything And Read - to do just that.

Having books around the house makes them easily accessible for you to pick one up and read to your child while the dinner’s cooking. Have a book to talk about at the dinner table. Keep a book in your bag for a trip to the dentist. Make it normal in your household to turn to a book for entertainment.

Why not SHARE what you're reading with your neighbours and inspire them to #StayHomeandReadEveryDay by downloading this picture which you can colour-in and display in your window! There's space to draw the cover of the book you're reading and fill in the title.

Let reading become something you both enjoy at any time of the day rather than something that makes you sigh with relief as you close the bedroom door at night.