I’ve talked before about raising your children to become readers, and how important it is to start them early on a steady diet of words. One thing I never mentioned though was leading by example. How do you do that? By telling them stories of your own, and a good place to start is at bed time.

Not only does telling bedtime stories encourage your children to read on their own, but it also increases their chances of having an active, healthy imagination. Depending on the stories you tell, that is. You don’t want to be reading them scary stories that will have them hopping into your bed at 3 a.m. because they had a nightmare. That’s a no-no. Instead, you want to be reading, or telling, them stories that will not only heighten their imagination, but also leave them with pleasant thoughts when the Sandman comes to visit.

Growing up, bedtime stories were an intricate part of my learning process when it came to reading and writing. I thought about what stories my mother had told me, which included bunnies with floppy ears and hungry caterpillars, and wanted to emulate them myself. She also encouraged me to read along with her, sounding out the words and turning the pages. It brought us closer together, strengthened the bond of family, and taught me that there is a whole other world beyond television. Before I knew it, I was turning off cartoons so I could go read a book. Much to the delight of my mom, I’m sure.

It’s not always easy getting your kids to remain calm, especially at bedtime. By distracting them with a story, you are not only doing yourself a great service, but your child as well. It’s something that will be mutually beneficial for everyone. Your child will learn, and you will get peace and quiet.