On the rough days, bedtime is my favorite part of the day. But our parenting shift doesn’t end immediately after baths and dinner.
We do our best to read our son a bedtime story at least four nights a week. As expected, there are days we fall short, but the intention is always there. In the beginning, he paid so little attention I couldn’t help but wonder why I bothered getting books at all. However, it wasn’t long before things started to change. Now, as he approaches two years old, his relationships with bedtime stories continues to evolve.
Some days he listens awesomely. Other days, he is disinterested. I have noticed, over the last few months, the way he interacts with bedtime stories seems to have changed. Below are some of the stages you might see in your little one as she ages.
After they age out of the “I’m completely ignoring you and the book” stage, they head into the first stage that involves action - which is why I call it stage one.
The most obvious change you see in this early stage of bedtime story readings is that your toddler is actually paying attention. A little over six months ago, I noticed my son looking at the book, and at me as I read. Now, when we read, he looks at us and shows interest in the books.
The next stage is active engagement in the physical book. Turning pages is a crucial sign of stage two.
After he began paying attention to the stories, I noticed that my son showed signs of engagement in the book. You may notice participation from your own children as they start pointing at images on the pages of the book, and might express or show a desire to touch it. They don’t necessarily understand what was happening, but they are definitely paying attention.
This stage is marked by recognition of what is in books.
Like most things, engagement in bedtime stories changes with age. After he began pointing at the items in the books, my son started recognizing some of the images he was seeing, and his pointing was accompanied by words. In this way, he started verbally acknowledging and making connections between the things he knew from everyday life and the pictures inside the book.
As a parent, it was exciting to see that my child could make connections between his life and the story in front of him.
For us, this stage is still developing - initiation.
Now, he is starting to select books on his own and bring them to us for us to read to him. He says the word “book” to try to get us to read to him - and if we act too slowly, he will even try to read it himself. While he can’t read, these behaviors show signs that he is developing in both his social, verbal and motor skills.
Bedtime stories change with time - when our children learn new things it is reflected in everything they do. As a book lover, I’m honored to play a role in my son's relationship with books. Let’s see what comes next.
About the author:
Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a writer who specializes in sociology, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Healthline, Yes! Magazine, HuffPost, Allure, and many other publications. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website.