Bedtime reading with your little one isn't just a routine; it's a magical journey through the world of words and imagination. It's the perfect way to bond, whisk your child away to fantastical places, and create cherished memories. The importance of bedtime reading goes beyond the story itself; it's about building strong emotional connections, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of books, and exposing them to all sorts of new Spanish vocabulary and syntax. So, snuggle up, grab your favorite story, and let the adventure begin. The fun and lasting benefits of bilingual bedtime reading await both you and your child!
"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." – Emilie Buchwald
Research has shown that reading to your child at bedtime isn't just a pleasant tradition but a scientifically proven boost for their brain. Those cozy moments in the bedtime chair are akin to the secret sauce for nurturing their cognitive potential. Moreover, early exposure to books and reading acts as a prelude to literacy, setting the stage for a lifelong love of learning and helping little ones grasp the fundamental concepts of reading, such as holding a book, turning pages, and understanding the flow of text from left to right – building critical pre-reading skills that will serve them well throughout their academic journey.
It's no secret that children are like sponges, soaking up the words they hear. Bedtime reading provides a treasure trove of words and ideas, expanding your little one's bilingual vocabulary. Reading to your little one in two languages exposes them to rich vocabularies and the cadences of English and Spanish. Even before they can form words themselves, they're absorbing the rhythms and sounds of speech, which is crucial for early bilingual language development.
Bedtime stories transport your child to worlds beyond the everyday. They meet talking animals, brave knights, and friendly aliens, and they go on adventures without leaving their bedroom. We’re big fans of the book, Dormir a la reina panda, in which Queen Panda has tossed and turned in her royal bed, for several sleepless nights causing concern and exhaustion among her devoted subjects who tirelessly attend to her. As word of a generous reward for the one who can lull the Queen to slumber echoes across the kingdom, creatures from distant lands hasten to the palace, eager to take on the challenge. We started reading this book when our little one was about a year old and, at first, we’d look at the pictures together enjoying the gorgeous illustrations with minimal reading. As time went on, we started reading more and more of the text. Now, we not only read the entire book but also add our version of the story by imagining different animals and what roles they’d play in Queen Panda’s queendom.
One of the most precious gifts of bedtime reading is the bond it creates. In those tender moments of shared stories, a profound connection is forged, strengthened by the warmth of cuddles and the soothing rhythm of words. It's a time of pure togetherness, where the distractions of the day fade away, and the world shrinks to just the two of you. As your child listens to your voice and watches the pages turn, they bask in the reassurance that you are there, dedicated solely to them. It's a precious cocoon of love where they feel not only secure but also truly cherished, laying the foundation for a lifelong connection built on trust, affection, and the magic of storytelling. A favorite of ours for routines, cuddles, and sheer cuteness are Un besito y ¡a dormir! and Buenas Noches a Todos (in our family, we practice tucking in our peluches as we read the book).
From kindness and empathy to understanding others' emotions, stories help children navigate the complexities of the human experience. When kids read, they're not just turning pages; they're turning into little empathetic explorers. Through stories, they step into different worlds and minds, connecting with characters and their feelings. This bond with the narrative cultivates understanding, kindness, and an appreciation for diverse perspectives. By including diverse books from publishers not often found in the US, we nurture a diverse and multicultural reading habit for our little readers.
Bedtime stories provide routines that can help the transition from playtime to bedtime. Reading together calms your child's mind, reduces stress, and sets the stage for a restful night's sleep. It helps children ease wind down into a more focused activity away from the day’s distractions. In our house, we usually dim the lights, turn on our white noise machine, and spray the room with lavender to set the bedtime mood. Even in toddlers and babies, changing the setting helps them to begin to understand the idea of bedtime as they can feel our own bodies winding down through slower heartbeats and quieter tones.
Bedtime reading is a journey that will last a lifetime, a gift that keeps on giving, and a memory that will forever warm your heart. ¡Feliz lectura y buenas noches! 📚
Karina Batchelor is a proud Latinx mama from Miami, la ciudad magica. She's a longtime educator, writer, and creative who holds multiple degrees in varied areas of study. Her qualifications have seen her excel across the US and the UK in various sectors of the education and theatre industry. You can often find her with a cafecito in hand at the nearest library, her homeschooling cooperative, or at the theatre, where she works as a professional dramaturg.