Hugless Douglas author talks bedtime stories with his children

Published on: 10 May 2016 Author: David Melling

As a dad of two and a full time author-illustrator, I know how tricky it can be to find the time and energy to read a bedtime story.

Hugless Douglas author talks bedtime stories with his children

After all the kerfuffle (and let's face it, getting ready for bed often involves a lot of kerfuffling), the prospect of having to read them a story was, I'll admit, a daunting one. 'Ok, just a quick one,' I'd say (and this, coming from an author...shameful).

Only, I soon realised just how rewarding this 'last 5 minutes' before lights out was, for all three of us.

Choosing the story was fun; 'what are you in the mood for?' would often invite a quick 'guess what happened to me today?' moment - always an enriching tale! Then we'd 'budge up a bit,' this way or that, until eventually, we were off...

We'd take it turns doing the funny voices ('no daddy, not like that!'), we'd sometimes guess what might happen next (before we turned the page, or at the end of the story), and we'd look out for the hidden extras in the illustrations.

Bath Book Bed

It wasn't long before I noticed other benefits as well. Their interest for books and stories grew. Nothing beats 'Daddy, can you read me a story?' We'd have our favourites, of course, which sometimes led to us quoting funny words or phrases as we went about our day. I could see it was improving their language skills... as well as their sense of humour!

And if all that wasn't enough, I stumbled across a wonderful bonus. My son gave me the idea for Hugless Douglas, one evening, while I was reading him a story! He was four at the time. We yawned as I finished and we gave each other a 'tired hug' and the next morning he gave me a 'breakfast hug' and a 'where are my socks hug' and it was a running joke for a while. At the time I was trying to find a story idea for a bear in my sketchbook and suddenly there it was - bear hugs!

David Melling

One tip; you might want to brush up on your reading voices, there's nothing quite like your own offspring for delivering a withering verdict on your performance. No pressure.

Reading tips:

  • Make it part of your routine like cleaning your teeth.
  • Create a comfortable setting.
  • Take your time. If you only have 5/10 mins, enjoy that time
  • Have fun - do the voices!
  • A lot of parents dread all the repeated reads. Get your child to do some of the hard work for you: if they know it off by heart then get them to 'read' whilst you point at the words. Find new things to spot.
  • For older children who are reluctant readers, try reading to them up until a cliffhanger, then leave them to finish the chapter by themselves.
  • Give older children a 15 minute later bedtime for reading.
  • Above all, make it a FUN!

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