Ahhh, bedtime. Since becoming a parent, I’ve always looked forward to this precious time of day. When my kiddos were small and needed so-many-things and so-much-supervision, bedtime meant that I got a break. Today my kids are six and nine and I’m looking squarely at parenting big kids now. They get their own snacks, buckle themselves into the car and help with household chores. On top of that, they’re really fun and funny. I really feel like I’ve hit the sweet spot with parenting, but bedtime is still my favorite time of the day. It’s not because I need a break, though, it’s because that’s the time when we’re all together. We all pile into my bed and read bedtime stories together.
Here are FIVE reasons I just love reading bedtime stories to my big kids:
1. Cuddle Time!
Between school, soccer practice, piano lessons, and life, our family is always on the go. Some days I feel like the hurried kisses and “I-love-you’s” at drop-off is the best I can do. But at our bedtime stories, they put their heads on my shoulder, snuggle their bodies along the length of mine, and sigh gently. It’s the same ritual we’ve done since they were tiny babies, even though now their big feet kick against my shins. When life is busy, these few quiet moments are that much more precious.
2. Shared Experience
I don’t know the names of all of the kids in their classes, they don’t know my co-workers, but we all know Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We’re living Harry Potter’s adventures together and the language in the books becomes part of the language in our home. My son can ask “what do you think it’s really like to play Quidditch?” and we can all jump in with opinions and thoughts about it.
3. Reliving Childhood Adventures
When I introduce them to the wonder of Narnia in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, it’s like I’m discovering it right there with them. Reading these as bedtime stories awakens the part of me that is a wide-eyed child who spent a year testing the back walls of my closet, hoping that it would open up to another world.
4. Good Books are Good Books
I like Guess How Much I Love You as much as the next mom, but after it’s tenth or one-hundredth reading the plot gets a bit old. There is some really great children’s literature out there for big kids, like in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon we often read an extra chapter just because I want to know what’s going to happen next. It’s a good thing the kids never mind.
5. Dealing with Hard Topics
Reading the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane lead to great discussions about why grown-ups are sometimes mean to kids. The Tale of Despereaux gave us the chance to talk about betrayal and redemption. These are big topics that are hard for kids to get their arms around, but having concrete discussions about the characters in a book is a good place to start.
Here’s a few more of our favorite books:
- The Cricket in Times Square is the start of a sweet little series for younger kids. The stories are so descriptive that my kids feel like they’ve been to New York City.
- Trumpet of the Swan is one of E.B. White’s lesser-known books, but it is the same simply beautiful writing and compelling talking animals.
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and the rest of the Fudge series have been making kids laugh out loud before there was LOL. And they are still hilarious.