Bedtime Stories: What Do You Remember?
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” Marcel Proust
“Ghosts are not what I remember of my childhood; but somehow they infuse memories of myself as a child, the little girl in a storybook, with ghosts hovering around her.” Yolanda A. Reid
In a poll of 2,000 British mothers with children under the age of seven, only one in five said they read a book to their child every night. In fact, 36 percent of parents don’t read bedtime stories to their children at all.
Though some parents cited time restrictions and stress as preventing them from tackling a book at night, nearly half of those surveyed said that their children simply preferred television, toys, or computer games to books. And perhaps most sadly, four percent said their children don’t own a single book. Bedtime stories for children dying out, NY Daily News, 2013
What are your memories of bedtime stories? We all have them … sorta! True, our memories of bedtime stories might not be what our parents think or remember. Why is that? Well, let’s just say that while bedtime meant bath/bedtime stories/sleep for adults, perhaps it meant bath/bedtime drift off to sleep/deep sleep for little kids. I grew up in a house full of books. My Dad was an avid reader, and my Mom loved her magazines, cooking books and esoteric novels. Yet, when I think of books and my earliest memory of them, I remember, vaguely, being read to by the fireplace on a cold winter’s day or curling up in bed with my mom on a Saturday morning to share a book. What about bedtime? What about all the books shared in the collages above and below? I read them alright but, not necessarily at night.
My daughters had some insights for me. I remember buying and reading almost all of the classic, popular books featured in this post, and we still have many of them on our bookshelves at home. But my kids remember it differently. When I asked them for their favorite bedtime stories/memories, they assured me that they read all these books … by themselves! Em mm. How could that be possible? Oh, they remember bedtime alright but, they remember taking a bath, playing in the bathtub with their rubber ducks and bath toys, being playfully chased down the hallway, getting their hair brushed and getting tucked in bed. And those bedtime stories we thought they were listening to? Let’s just say they were counting sheep in La La Land as we droned on about Peter Rabbit and Mrs Piggle Wiggle. Above and below are collages of some books I recall.
“Memories of childhood were the dreams that stayed with you after you woke.” Julian Barnes
“I remember, I remember
How my childhood fleeted by,—
The mirth of its December
And the warmth of its July.” Winthrop Mackworth Praed
“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.” Pat Conroy
What really goes on at bedtime and what about bedtime stories? You see, when I read the poll conducted with 2,000 British moms above, I was mortified. How could parents not read to their little ones at night? How could 4% not even own a children’s book? Frankly, given our modern day, two working family homes, it come as no surprise that bedtime might just be that … time for bed. It also doesn’t surprise me that kids, after a long day of activities, play dates, prep classes and whatnot, remember the pre-bedtime activities more than the cuddly night time read of say, Goodnight Moon. If we stopped to really think back to those early years, we might also remember that we had time restrictions and a need to unwind after a stressful day. It’s not that parents don’t read to their kids anymore, and it’s not that our children don’t have memories of childhood books, it’s just that opinions differ on when those books were read. It’s a matter of our separate memories of the time of day that books were actually read/shared.
But what about all those books we bought/believed we read to the kids … at night? My daughters said: “Look Mom, our memory of reading books kicked in around 3 years of age and, by then, we could read our picture books and understand them.” Okay, so they did internalize the reading sessions we shared and because we read books together (Forget bedtime: we know they weren’t paying attention because they were sleepy), they became early and avid readers themselves. As I thought about our exchange, I traveled back to my childhood memories of reading and, just like my kids, my fondest memories were of curling up in my Dad’s Study and pulling books off his shelf to read. Back in the day, you could purchase a set of leather bound classics to create a home library. My Dad had a wide range of books and it gave me enormous pleasure to pluck a book off the shelf and attempt to read it. Some of the books were more challenging to read, and I would skim and infer what was intended as I read along. As I looked through the list of books featured here, I was drawn to a few that were solidly part of my childhood reading, Winnie The Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Wind In the Willows, Paddington Bear, Madeline, Corduroy, The BFG, Goodnight Moon and some others. I remember all of them fondly and how much pleasure they gave me, and I am pleased that I shared my love of books with my children. Bedtime or not, they are still avid readers.
“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Graham Greene
Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come. Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future. Mattie Stepanek
What about your memories of bedtime stories? What do you remember? Did you read bedtime stories to your kids? Which ones were your/their favorites? As I was reflecting on books to include in this post, I found myself thinking about how our memories are created and what people cherish most: We capture snippets of moments and build new memories around them. I was a shy child so books formed a formidable part of my memory bank. My kids love books, video games, TV, music and technology; snippets of those interests infuse their memories of childhood. Often, what is remembered is the emotion; the love, warmth, struggle, and life’s ups and down tend to linger longer … and they all make for good reading. In researching books for this post, I came across two articles that were a great help in jugging my memory of favorite books. They are: 50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child AND 15 Classic Children’s Books That Started as Bedtime Stories. Check out their recommended books and add a few more to your list. Is there a book that you don’t see mentioned or featured that was part of your childhood? Do tell.
As Marcel Proust said in the opening quote of this post, “There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” What was your favorite book? What memories do you have of yours? Do share!
My fellow bloggers were equally creative with their selections. Check out how others interpreted the theme – Bedtime Stories – below.
This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Daily Post: Bedtime Stories – What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?
Positive Motivation Tip: Books and reading conjure up all sorts of memories or none at all for us… We choose what we want to remember… Whatever we recall, let’s cherish the memory. It is the emotion that is evoked not so much the bedtime storybook.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos: (See below) via Wikipedia
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Winnie the Pooh
“Paddington (1975) meeting Mr and Mrs Brown” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
Wind In The Willows
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Babar the Elephant
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman/ Caroline Binch
“The Big Orange Splot” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“Myfathersdragon” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing book cover” Via Wikipedia –
“CM ThreePigs” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“News Zen” by It is believed that the cover art can or could be obtained from the publisher.. Via Wikipedia –
“Cover of Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“Curious George” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“The Velveteen Rabbit pg 1” by Margery Williams – Archive. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –
Little Bear –
Wizard of Oz –
“Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944) – Page: Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia –
“White House Clifford the Big Red Dog, 2003” by White House photo by Susan Sterner. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia “Frog and Toad Cover”. Via Wikipedia –
“Seuss-cat-hat” by Copyright holder is Random House/ Seussville Via Wikipedia
The Story of Ferdinand
A Snowy Day by Esra Keats
“ALEXANDER TERRIBLE HORRIBLE” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
The Hungry Caterpillar
“Corduroy” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“The Hundred Dresses” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“The Paper Bag Princess” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“Strega Nona (Tomie dePaola book) cover art” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“The Giving Tree” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
“CM mosquitoes” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears written by Verna Aardema
“Madeline-1939” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“Where The Wild Things Are (book) cover” Via Wikipedia –
“Pippi Långstrump” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
Thomas The Tank Engine
“TheBFG” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“MotherGooseInProse” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –
“JustSoStories” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –