Reading to your child is one of the most beneficial rituals you can establish. Additionally, while there are many factors that can create future learning success in children, reading with your child has been shown to be the strongest and most reliable across cultures and socio-economic levels. Bedtime can be a difficult time for toddlers, and reading to them can help establish a calm, predictable routine that helps make bedtime easier and more enjoyable for both parent and child. Establish this routine earlier; even earlier than you think is necessary, and continue it as long as possible.
Bedtime stories are an extremely relaxing way to help children go to sleep. Choose favorite stories so that your child is engaged, or better yet, have your child choose the story. While parents might get tired of a particular story, children are likely to enjoy it more the more familiar it is. With classics like Goodnight Moon or The Hungry Caterpillar, children may start reciting the story along with you. This is an important aspect of pre-literacy and should be encouraged. Remember that reading is not a passive activity. Your child should be encouraged to ask questions and talk about the story with you.
Make sure that everything else is taken care of before you start the story. Take bathroom trips and get water before you start the routine, and get your child all snuggled into bed before the reading begins. If there’s room, sit on the bed with your child, as close to them as possible. Your presence will help them to relax, and the more relaxed they become, the easier it is for them to fall asleep.
When the story is complete, some children also find it comforting to talk about whom they are grateful for or what happened during the day that they appreciated. Whatever routine you choose, try to keep it consistent, whether you are at home or not, as children find predictability reassuring.