bedtime stories for kids
6 min · Speech
April 19, 2023

How Do Bedtime Stories Improve Language Skills for Kids?

Bedtime stories have always been a tool for parents and caregivers to improve their bonds with their children while also preparing them for sleep. Recent studies on bedtime stories have also shown us that they are also powerful ways of enhancing your child’s brain development.

The Benefits of Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories aren’t just good for sending your child to sleep. There are real benefits of these stories, and the following are some in the list:

Rewire Your Child’s Brain

Studies on bedtime stories’ effects on children’s brain development showed that these stories are more beneficial than previously thought. Not only are they valuable in terms of teaching verbal interactions, but they also improve the logic skills and even lower stress levels of the children. Another benefit the research results showed is that reading bedtime stories actually rewire the child’s brain in terms of language development.

During the study, the scientists found that there was little activity in the verbal-processing areas in the brains of children that are poor readers. After eight weeks of reading to these children and doing other literacy exercises with them resulted in a change in their brain activity that made them look like that of the children who were good readers. The more the children were read and heard the phonemes in the English language, ranging from the sounds ee to ss, the more and faster their brains developed to process these sounds better. This allowed these children to gain the skill to break down the words they didn’t know into pieces. Because for these children to be able to break these words into pieces, they first have to know the sounds.

Help Your Child Build Their Vocabulary

Stories you can read to your child will contain words they will not see in their immediate environment. Parents and caregivers can use bedtime stories to boost their child’s language skills. Bedtime stories can be a stepping stone for conversations.

Reading to your child could improve and expand your kiddo’s vocabulary more than just talking to them. As mentioned before, there may be many words in the story that are generally out of their general environment. You may not be able to put them into your daily conversations. However, through stories, children can learn different vocabulary.

Boost Their Language Development

Bedtime stories and storytime, in general, come with an abundance of benefits, but one of the most obvious ones is that bedtime stories improve your child’s language skills. Studies showed that even after your child’s learned how to read, it is important that you read with them as long as possible. This shared reading experience was found highly beneficial in developing various skills such as listening , spelling, reading comprehension , and vocabulary . In addition, reading to your child and reading together can establish the overall foundational literacy skills that are essential for the child.

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Quality Family and Cuddle Time

You may get a little frustrated at first as your child may get easily distracted when you try to read the story. Chances are, they will be asking a lot of ”silly” questions. At these times, instead of getting frustrated, try to remember that this is a fantastic opportunity to get them into the story where they can get engaged.

Also, this is a nice chunk of time where you, as a parent or caregiver, spend some relaxing time with your kid and a nice story. Studies showed that getting comfortable and reading aloud to your kid can lower their stress levels. For instance, if they had a difficult day at school, reading time can actually help them handle this stress.

How to Make Time for Bedtime Stories

Parents and caregivers may feel like there is no time in the chaos of the day to prepare for and handle bedtime stories. However, if turned into a habit, you can easily slip bedtime stories into your child’s daily routine without any issues.

It is never too early to start reading to your child fun and magical bedtime stories. When you think about it, your child would already have a somewhat established nighttime routine from dinner to when they go to bed. Even a 30-minute bedtime storytime squeezed in this schedule will gain your kid a lot of skills. If your baby is young, they will appreciate being close to you and hearing your voice. So you can curl up right beside them just before they go to sleep and read to them.

Once you establish a routine, even a little time before bed spent reading to your kid will do wonders.

reading to kids

What Are Some Good Bedtime Stories has many recommendations for bedtime stories by age group, which they gathered from the Quicklist Consulting Committee, a subset of the American Library Association in Chicago. The following is the excerpt from their website:

Birth to 3

  • Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker (Harcourt)
  • The Everything Book by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt)
  • “More, More, More,” Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (William Morrow)
  • Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill (Putnam)

4 to 7

  • Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel (HarperCollins)
  • Good Night, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas (Dutton)
  • Pass the Celery, Ellery! by Jeffrey Fisher Gaga (Stewart Tabori & Chang)
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Viking)

8 to 12

  • Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say (Walter Lorraine)
  • More Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron (Knopf)
  • A Poke in the I by Paul Janeczko (Candlewick)
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary (William Morrow)

Funny and Classic Bedtime Stories for Kids

There are many, many, resources that you can find amazing, funny and classic bedtime stories for your kid. When you are selecting a story for your kiddo, the important thing is to make sure that the content is suitable for your kid’s age. Also, try to include your child in the selection process of the story so that they will be more enthusiastic about the time you will spend together! Here is a website where you can find various stories with different topics. Of course, this would require spending some screen time, so make sure you don’t go overboard. But you can also get great classics from your local bookstore, like Cinderella or Around the World in 80 Days.

children books

Why Do Bedtime Stories Work?

Bedtime stories come with an abundance of benefits. Not only do they provide the child an excellent vessel for their colorful imaginations, but bedtime stories also improve their essential skills and enhance their brains. The brainy and social benefits of bedtime stories have been established via many studies throughout the years. The areas they improve include literacy skills, mastery of language, reducing the child’s stress levels, and establishing a bond between the parents and caregivers with their kid.

Brain imaging tests revealed that compared to children whose parents or caregivers don’t read with them, children who are read every day showed significant differences in their cognitive abilities. The children whose parents read to them every day observed a positive impact on their reading and cognitive skills in addition to their boosted imagination. These benefits are thought to last through later in their lives.

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There are three main differences that studies found in the visual activities of children who are read books or stories aloud to them and children who lie in bed and read by themselves. The most apparent improvement is observed in the visual processing and imagination of the kids. They get better at imagining things as they interpret the story when it’s read out loud.

Another area where the bedtime stories work is that they help children master their language skills. Books generally include words and concepts that children don’t come across in their immediate environment. This allows the child to be exposed to a diverse and sophisticated vocabulary.

Children are naturally curious beings. Books and stories enhance this curiosity and teach them about the world around them. Reading causes them to be more inquisitive and interested, leading them to read or wanting to be read more. Another advantage of sitting and reading to your child is that you will be there to answer their questions, stimulating conversation and in turn, improving their social skills and the bond you establish with them. Also, stories are great when introducing children to some tough topics in safe ways so they can understand scary things without being worried too much about them.


This article is examined by Clinical Child Psychologist and Ph. D. Researcher Kevser Çakmak, and produced by Otsimo Editorial Team.

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This post does not provide medical advice. See Additional Information.