South East children get less bedtime stories

Children in the South East of England listen to fewer bedtime stories than other parts of the UK, according to a survey published today by Talking Tots, the toddler activity group.

In a survey of 1,500 parents of pre-schoolers, half of all parents in the South East said they never read more than one book at bedtime, while one in ten said their child never read a bedtime story – instead falling asleep watching a DVD or listening to an audio book. Nationally, children listen to three books on average each night.

“Parents often don’t realise how important bedtime stories are. Sharing stories with children stimulates their memory, vocabulary, social and emotional skills, giving them a real head start in the classroom,” said Lisa Houghton, co-founder of Talking Tots. “A great story is like a rocket engine for your child’s imagination – you’ll be amazed at the conversations you can have about their favourite characters.”

The UK’s favourite bedtime story is The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson. The author urges more parents to share their childhood favourites with their own children. She said: “I loved reading bedtime stories with my children, particularly the Frog and the Toad stories by Arnold Lobel, which are ideal bedtime reading. Frog and Toad Together contains a hilarious story about the time Toad makes a list of Things To Do, then refuses to anything all when the list blows away (he can’t chase after it because that wasn’t on the list). It’s full of witty, inventive ideas for stories; I wish I was like that!”

Tony Ross, best-selling author and illustrator of Little Princess, comments; “Bedtime stories are a wonderful way to stimulate children’s imagination and transport them to a world of make believe. ‘War Boy’ by Michael Foreman was always my favourite bedtime story as a child. I take great joy in creating characters like Little Princess and hope she inspires both girls and boys to enjoy reading and spending quality time with their parents.”

To help parents make the most of every bedtime, Talking Tots has put together the Bedtime Tots website, which offers parents practical advice on choosing appropriate stories for toddlers, and using bedtime stories to help stimulate communication and language skills. The site provides a great resource for parents who are looking for the perfect Christmas present!

Parents can also enter a competition to win £750 of bedtime toys and accessories from companies including Early Learning Centre, Granada Entertainment, Tippitoes and others.

Little Princess is also offering a ‘Royal’ treat with a selection of brand new Little Princess books and soft toys from the new Born to Play Autumn/Winter toy range. To find out more about the competition, visit www.bedtimetots.com today!

Key Survey Findings:

  • Parents in the South East read the fewest stories at bedtime, just one book on average, while parents in the North West read four or more books each night.
  • One in five Dads in the South East reads to their children every night, compared to just one in 50 in the North East.
  • Some less conventional bedtime stories for under 5s include Sir Gawain and the Green Night, the New Testament and The Complete Works of Shakespeare!

The Top 10 Bedtime Stories:

  • The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
  • Thomas the Tank Engine, by W Awdry
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • The Little Princess, by Tony Ross
  • Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell
  • Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney
  • Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson
  • Mister Men, by Roger Hargreaves
  • Charlie and Lola, by Lauren Child

Talking Tots surveyed 1,500 parents of pre-school children in May and June 2008 by email and at Talking Tots classes.

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