Universal need for bed time stories
Playing, hopping about, talking, quarrelling over toys are routine things in a child’s life. Yet there is one thing that is most sought after by children across all nations and cultural backgrounds.
It is the demand for stories at bed time. These stories and their timing never fail to entice the kids in all ages and climes. They come to children almost like addictions, especially when they are cuddled by the mother’s or grandmother’s side in the comfort of a cozy bed.
I did love these tales when I was a kid and then my children did the same. Now their children, when on a visit to us, make the same demands. This need is as natural to a child as sunlight is to a plant to find the direction of its growth. After the day-long hectic running about during play, the child is damn tired by the evening and parents can’t think their job is done after feeding the child and having shown them the bed.
It is time for either of the parents to strengthen the bonding with the child by sitting or lying in close proximity to the child and make the child look expectantly for the next turn the story shall take.
It can help the child in guessing the course of events. It keeps him engrossed and focused. It can stretch his imagination to divine a course of events entirely different from the one parents have in mind. Words of wisdom poured into young minds as do’s and don’ts usually fall on deaf ears and are forgotten at the earliest , but a story well narrated remains ever fresh for years or even for a life time and people even remember who told them the story fifty years ago.
These stories play an educative role in the life of a child. He / she learns some lessons or derives some values and conclusions. He confronts new words and concepts which he wants to be explained. In this way we are able to widen the child’s horizon as also his acquaintance with an expanding circle of lingual usage. Then the child tries to use those notions and words at the earliest next opportunity.
Stories are the most easily learnt and remembered genre. They keep the child listening with rapt attention. Thus they cultivate the habit of focused thinking and listening which are a great asset for any person. Reading bedtime stories to children can induce in them a love for reading books which always pays in life.
Story listening makes demands on the child’s imagination as he tries to foresee the events. That kindles the young imagination which pays very rich dividends in later life. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world”
(The writer is a retired Principal Govt. College, Hoshiarpur Punjab. He contributes to Kashmir Vision)