Once upon a time, long, long ago (well, maybe not that long) in a land very far away called St. Louis, Missouri, a little girl would go to sleep at night to the soothing sound of either her mother or father’s voice reading or telling her a story at bedtime. Once upon a time, long, long ago (well, maybe not that long) in a land very far away called St. Louis, Missouri, a little girl would go to sleep at night to the soothing sound of either her mother or father’s voice reading or telling her a story at bedtime. The stories helped her paint vivid images in her mind of beautiful places, make sense of the world, taught her about values and most of all, made her feel comforted and safe as she fell asleep.
I was not unlike many children who love to hear a good story. Oral tradition is a part of my African heritage and culture and that of many of the cultures of Minnesota.
“Before the written word people communicated through stories. People have told stories for a long time. As long as there has been language and words, people have told stories. Before language and words, people have told stories. They have told stories through images, signs, and sounds. They have drawn images on cave walls, on stone, and wood. Oral tradition means that the information, the stories, are told rather than written down. Sometimes, a people have both a written and an oral tradition. Oral traditions have a different way of being alive than written histories. Because people hold the oral tradition in their memory, and sometimes the story changes with the telling, oral histories can be more fluid, more dynamic, more alive, than written histories. In West African storytelling, the griots are the keepers of the culture, as their amazing memories and storytelling abilities allow them to keep alive the culture, history, and genealogies of their people (University of Michigan Cultural Heritage Initiative for Community Outreach (CHICO).”
However, there are other benefits to storytelling as well as the reading of stories to children.
1. Bedtime stories can play a part in reducing sleeping difficulties:
Many children have difficulty going to sleep. This may include
•Frequent awakening during the night
•Talking during sleep
•Difficulty falling asleep
•Waking up crying
•Feeling sleepy during the day
•Having nightmares; or
•Teeth grinding and clenching
The reasons vary and include anxiety, fears of separation from their family, or excitement and anticipation of an upcoming event just to name a few. Sleep can also be disturbed by mood disorders, substance abuse, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and sometimes nightmares. Nightmares are relatively common during childhood, begin at a variety of ages, affect girls more than boys and interfere with restful sleep. However, to help minimize common sleep problems, a parent should develop consistent bedtime and regular bedtime and sleep routines for children including bedtime stories.
2. Bedtime stories help kids build “inner dictionaries” increasing knowledge required for reading success:
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” (Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985). Research also indicates that reading aloud should continue throughout the grades. Many bedtimes begin with the magic words “Once upon a time.” In a story in the May issue of child magazine (www.child.com) called “The science behind the bedtime story,” written by Patti Jones, learn why bedtime stories are important.
Listening comprehension is a key component of most sate English Language Arts assessments. However, the value of reading to children goes beyond testing. According to E. Olsen, of the Reading Link, some of the benefits of reading aloud to your child are as follows.
•Vocabulary development: When you read books aloud to children or use storytelling, you help enrich their vocabulary. The words we encounter in print are rarer and more varied tha