On Reading: Bedtime Stories

I started a tradition of reading at bedtime when my daughter was still just chewing on the books. When my son came along he joined our nighttime ritual and soon the two of them became enthralled by bedtime stories.

Around the time my son turned 4 and my daughter turned 6 we graduated from simple picture books to novels. Our first was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We only read a few pages a night, which meant the story stretched out over weeks, but it captivated their imaginations from one night to the next. That whole year we worked our way through the Chronicles of Narnia.

My children are now 12 and 14. My daughter just started her freshman year in high school. But we still read together every night. The two of them pile on my bed and we read a few pages (sometimes more) from our latest novel.

It amazes me that they still want to do this. I think there is something comforting about the ritual we’ve been doing since before they can remember. Not to mention it’s highly entertaining – especially when we use foreign or funny accents for some of the characters.

Most of all I’ve loved how my children have become avid readers on their own. I hardly find them without their nose in a book these days. And that’s a much better place than in front of the television or a video game or on the computer.

Some of our favorite books over the years have been a part of a series. Here is a list of our favorites for you to begin your own bedtime stories:

The Magic Tree House (ages 7-12)

The Time Warp Trio series (7-10)

The 39 Clues books (8-12)

The Inkheart trilogy (8-12)

The City of Ember series (8-12)

The Chronicles of Narnia (9-12)

The Harry Potter series (9-12)

Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (9-12)

Whatever you pick, just start reading to them. Read every night. Make it important and make it fun. Your children will see the joy of books, hear the power of words, and feel the safety of the ritual of reading bedtime stories.

I’m not sure yet what we’re going to do when my daughter goes away to college….

Ann Wright Rossouw is a freelance writer and works with an arts education organization in the San Francisco bay area. She is happy to have the challenge of two teenagers, one cat, and an insatiable appetite for books.


  1. says

    My daughter (now 11) and I probably do more parallel reading — reading the same book but at different times — than reading aloud, but in the last few months we’ve shared several books aloud, and it really is a great way to spend time together.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Ann. It’s a great encouragement to us all to keep on making time to read!

  2. says

    thanks for the post, especially this list of suggested books. I have a 3 and 5 yr old and am wanting to start reading more challenging books with them but am unsure where to start. I’m afraid Narnia is too much, but since they are boys will they like Little House on the Prarie yet? But I agree on how important reading is and am very proud of my little readers!

  3. Lauren says

    What a great post. I also appreciate the list. Like Jennifer mentioned, I do more parallel reading with my seven year old, but posts like these always remind me to return to a read-aloud!

  4. says

    I think that Little House is GREAT for boys! When I was reading the first 2 with my daughter years ago, I thought about that. There’s lots of building and chopping and hunting.

    However, I tried to read Little House with my 5 year old (boy), and I think he was a little young. He found it a little “boring.” I am going to try again.

    My 11 year old has read a couple of Magic Tree House books to him, and he liked them.

  5. says

    Thanks for sharing your family’s reading tradition, Anne. That is a great idea. My baby is only 9 months, but we are still trying to establish a tradition of enjoying books right before bed.

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