Bedtime reading with Leigh Hodgkinson
Published on: 18 May 2016 Author: Leigh Hodgkinson
As part of our Bath, Book, Bed campaign, Leigh Hodgkinson talks about her favourite bedtime reads, for herself and her children.
We love Are You Sitting Comfortably? - it really depicted the pleasure of reading a book on your own, but also the joy of reading together. Why do you think sharing books with young children is so important?
I think life these days is so busy and jam-packed with rushing about. That time to sit down, be together and enjoy a story together is such a joyful treat. It's a time you can just be, a moment of subliminal reflection. The grown up doesn't have to think about domestic boringness and the child enjoys a moment of calm. Everyone can immerse themselves in the magic of the story.
What were your favourite bedtime stories as a child?
I loved The Enormous Crocodile. It had just the right blend of scariness and fun, with a vivid array of wonderful characters brought to life by Quentin Blake.
I also was a huge fan of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair books - the idea that there was magic in normal life and that anything was possible. Being whisked away to worlds of fun and imagination was just the most incredible feeling.
What books do you currently read to your children at bedtime? And, because we know how important sleep is - for parents as well as little ones! - which ones can you recommend to other parents and carers?!
I have a three year old and a six year old. We are in a transitional and exciting new phase now, as my six year old is reading things by herself. So quite often at bedtime she will read a picture book to us with great expression and enjoyment (Poo Bum and Poo Bus are her favourites for obvious reasons!) And my son loves the Tilly and Friends books by Polly Dunbar.
We have so many picture books at our house that they are really spoilt. I always try and crowbar my favourites in to bedtime books whenever I can: Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb, Big Rabbit's Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu and Delphine Durand, Too Noisy by Malachy Dolye and Ed Vere or Big Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (if it has been a stressful grumpy day).
What are the main benefits of a bedtime story routine, do you think?
I think a bedtime routine is good for both the child and the parent. And for us, a bedtime routine would simply not be complete without reading books. Everyone is tired at the end of the day, so if you don't have to think about it, if it's a routine, it makes life easier.
We always read at least two stories at bedtime. The children get to pick one each and we sit on my son's bed and read them together. All the tantrums and craziness of the day are forgotten and we enjoy being close and sharing something good.
After stories I always sit in the chair by the door and sing songs to them. It makes me smile that they are probably the only two children in the world who know all the words to 'Pennies From Heaven' and 'Moon River'.
They've known this routine ever since they were born, and I think it's very comforting and reassuring to them at an age where they are uber sponges. All day they learn so much and have to be big and brave at all the new things they are exposed to. So I think a bedtime which is safe, calm and restful is definitely a good idea - and bedtime stories are an essential ingredient to the recipe as they provide that in bucketloads.