Children's Laureate tells parents to remember bedtime reading

Children are missing out on bedtime stories because busy parents believe they are old enough to read to themselves, according to the award-winning author Jacqueline Wilson.

The Children's Laureate launched a campaign to encourage parents to set aside 15 minutes a day for reading stories aloud.

Youngsters up to the age of 12 who have had regular bedtime stories are noticeably more confident and articulate than other children, Ms Wilson claimed. But most parents abandon daily stories by the time their child is seven because they believe they are old enough to read to themselves.

"I have been surprised by how very few children seem to have any kind of story read to them by their parents," said Ms Wilson. "They all have story tapes and TVs in their bedrooms but what they don't have is mum or dad or carer snuggling up with them and reading aloud. It is a sad reflection of our busy lives."

Next week, Ms Wilson will publish a new book, Great Books to Read Aloud, which will recommend more than 70 books for children of all ages.

Research revealed that fewer than a quarter of children over the age of seven have a regular storytime at home. Only 3 per cent of 12-year-olds are read to, the research, commissioned by Scholastic Book Clubs and Fairs, found.

Ms Wilson urged parents not to abandon story time. "I want everyone to carry on reading to their children when they can read alone," she said. "Just because a child can read alone doesn't mean they won't benefit from still having a regular storytime with their parents. I was surprised how many people read aloud to their children until they are five or six and then stop.

"But, at that age, children are still reading with their finger pointing under each word and are not ready to go on to really long books even though they are intellectually ready for them.

"Daily reading sessions are a fantastic chance for parents and children to communicate with each other through exploring new issues and ideas."

Older children often enjoyed being read to while they did other things, such as painting or mending a bike, Ms Wilson said.

She added that it was difficult for research to accurately reflect the storytelling which really takes place, arguing that parents tended to exaggerate their efforts for fear of appearing a bad parent. "Parents might say they are reading with their children, even if they are not, as they know it benefits the child," said Ms Wilson. "But storytime is great for adults too, it's great fun and helps parents to build a strong relationship with their child. I talk to children every week in schools and libraries and find that those that are read to regularly are much more confident."

She also urged men to take a greater role in reading stories after research showed that women took most of the responsibility for reading to their children. Two-thirds of women said they regularly read a bedtime story to their children compared to 16 per cent of men. The research, based on interviews with 485 parents and 406 children, found that the average reading session was 17 minutes.

Great Books to Read Aloud is published on 4 May.

Celebrity favourites

* J K ROWLING 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' by C S Lewis

One day, while I was safely in the kitchen, my eldest daughter clambered up a set of shelves to reach the book. I only rumbled her because she showed no surprise when, during that night's reading, Eustace, the hero, turned into a dragon.

* RUTH KELLY

'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

I love reading to my children and they have all enjoyed The Gruffalo. A wonderfully illustrated book, it tells the story of a brave little mouse who goes on a long journey through the deep, dark wood. It is a tale of ingenuity, courage and self-belief, which sparks the imagination.

* SHEILA HANCOCK 'Not Now, Bernard' by David McKee

Children's literature is so entertaining that I suspect I get more pleasure reading to my grandchildren than they do listening to me. I cannot get though this tale of a monster eating a little boy and taking his place, unnoticed by his parents, without being speechless with laughter.

* IMOGEN STUBBS 'Horrid Henry's Underpants' by Francesca Simon

We have a nine-year-old son, Jesse, who is dyslexic and, until recently, was no more connected to books than a mole to the sky. And then we read Horrid Henry's Underpants to him. And he loved it. He immediately latched on to the characters and found them very funny.

* MICHAEL PALIN 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak

I used every opportunity I could to read to mychildren. My motives were invariably selfish. Reading time meant time off from fighting,shouting and making a mess. And that wasjust me. My favourite was Maurice Sendak'sbrilliantly drawn fantasy.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before