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Bedtime Stories For Toddlers

Updated on March 9, 2015

While busy organizing my thoughts around toddler sleepwear I could not help but think back on those beautiful innocent little faces of my own children staring up at me in awe as I read them their favorite bedtime stories.

Years have passed since my children were toddlers and now they have the honor of reading the same and other similar stories to their own children at bedtime.

I hope that some of the precious moments that we spent bonding as we snuggled up with a book and spent the last few minutes of each day talking, laughing, and loving has influenced them to do the same with their little ones.

What Bedtime Stories Really Mean

You will reap the rewards of bedtime story telling if you approach this time with enthusiasm and realize that this is a very special and necessary time when you can give your toddlers the opportunity to connect with you before they drift off to dreamland. This is the time of day when you should put everything else aside and give your little children the one-on-one attention that they deserve. It is not a time to ramble off a story that you know off pat just so that you can just go through the motions.

There will be days when the ritual feels more a duty than a pleasure but keep in mind that your little ones will look forward to this time of day and you owe it to them. You will be busy building memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. At the same time reading to toddlers has the ability to boost brain development and sound awareness.

Listening to bedtime stories should be the very last thing that your children do at the end of the day. Make sure that they are comfortable and warm before you start reading. Be sure that they have all used the potty, brushed their teeth and had something to drink and settled in bed before you begin your tale.

What Reading Material is Suitable For Toddlers

Reading books are expensive and you will probably find that you do not have enough suitable books to read a new story every night. As long as you are able to keep the enthusiasm for what you are reading this will be fine. Children enjoy repetition as this provides them with a level of comfort and by reading the same book over and over you will be helping to boost their memory and attention-span. Toddlers enjoy choosing the story as this gives them a sense of independence. If you have more than one toddler they can take turns and you can have one evening a week that you get to choose.

Young children enjoy books with rhymes and as learning about rhyming sounds is very important building block of literacy this should be encouraged. Very soon your little toddler will learn to know the words and you will need to pay special attention. Don't think a mistake will go by unnoticed.Catching you out will give them a sense of pride and as soon as they know enough of the rhymes you can get them to join in - completing sentences or looking for alternative rhyming words.

Research has found that when a toddler is exposed to nursery rhymes thousands of connections are formed or strengthened in the brain. This is known as "the nursery rhyme effect." As the brain receives the input of the rhyming sounds that it will need to sort into words the toddler is introduced to the patterns of sound. According to the experts this helps the brain to make a connection between two words that rhyme or begin with the same sound which helps the brain separate words into syllables. These are all skills that will help your toddler as they are critical to early literacy.

Stories do not necessarily have to be read. You can tell stories that you remember from your childhood or you can tell them stories that would interest them about people or places they know. The main thing to remember is that these stories should have a calming effect on your toddler as he gets ready to sleep. Whether you are telling stories or reading, choose a theme that you know will make your children comfortable with and do not introduce new concepts and action-packed stories at bedtime.

As young toddler's attention span is limited pause often and ask questions as you read through the book. Help them to connect to the story by asking how they feel about a particular situation or event in the book or how they would have handled a situation. Good choices are stories that present the opportunity to teach your child a life lesson. There are numerous books available that illustrate the importance of not littering or of being kind to animals, helping your parents to name a few.

The one-on-one conversations provide you with an ideal opportunity to pick up on anything that may be bothering your toddlers. Encourage them to discuss their day . This is the ideal opportunity for you to start to build an open relationship with your child that if nurtured will continue to grow throughout their lives. This is the time of day to say "I love you, unconditionally and I am here for you." Build their self esteem and bring a positive influence into their lives. We all need more positive people around us in the world today.

Recommended Reading For Toddlers

My favorite author of toddler books is Margaret Wise Brown and in particular the following:-

• Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

Margaret's books have been delighting children for years and Goodnight Moon is no exception as it tells the tale of the bunny rabbit that each evening performs his daily ritual of saying goodnight to every object in his room, including "a comb, and a brush, and a bowl full of mush." The illustrations fade in accordance with the story and vibrantly colored illustrations fade slowly to pale shades of gray as the bunny gets sleepy. Excellent book with magnificent illustrations and a prefect bedtime story.

• The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Felicia Bond

This is an ideal book for those of you looking for rhyming books. It tells the story of a day in the life of a group of farm animals with simple rhymes that small toddlers will enjoy. Beautifully illustrated this book tells of a mouse that is born in the field and how a pig learns to squeal and right at the end of the book all the animals snuggle down to sleep with their parents. A delightful book to set the mood for bedtime.

• The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

This story is about the unconditional love of a mother for her child and is an absolute winner on those days when your toddler needs some re-assuring. It is about a young bunny that threatens to run away and become a rock ... a fish ... a flower ... Mother Rabbit decides to join him in his adventures and assures him that no matter where he goes she will follow. The story is told in soothing rhythms - and is recommended reading to help your toddler to fall asleep feeling safe and loved.

• Mama, Do You Love Me?, by Barbara M. Joose, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee

This book by Barbara M Joose has basically the same theme as The Runaway Bunny but instead of a Bunny the main character is a little girl. Instead of threatening to run away this little girl asks a series of questions all relating to her mother's undying love and the mother's answer remains the same "I will love you, forever and for always, because you are my dear one." Some of the questions have a dash of humor while others are associated with everyday occurrences such as " What if I broke something?" or "What if I played trick on you". This book is highly recommended - both for adults and toddlers alike.

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    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks Zsuzsy

      I get my inspiration from my grandchildren. And I agree we need that time of day to remember why we love them so very much. All clean and angelic. Can hardly believe the same little child just demonstrated what a real "temper tantrum" should look like.

      Thanks for the input.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Some of my most favorite memories are from when my children were all fresh and clean smelling from their bath and we could snuggle up and read. Now I snuggle with my granddaughters whenever possible and our favorite book of the month.

      Great hub Laura

      kindest regards Zsuzsy