The bedtime story
The ritual of reading the bedtime story: what's at stake?
It's a ritual much appreciated by children, and one that parents wholeheartedly embrace. It's a privileged, intimate moment between child and parent, which reinforces the child's sense of security and the relationship of trust.
Despite this certainty, what parent hasn't rolled their eyes when their child selects the same eternal story for the twentieth time in twenty days! While repetition is sometimes tiresome for adults, it is extremely virtuous for children.
This is how children develop their language skills: they are exposed to a rich and varied lexicon, to intonations that give meaning to the text and the situation, to a syntax specific to the written word that projects them towards their future world as independent readers. And repetition? It helps to memorise these language facts.
It's also an ideal time for children to build their written language comprehension skills. These skills are identical to those developed when understanding a text read independently. What about repetition? It enables the child to anticipate what will happen next in a story he or she knows well, by activating the logical links in the text, and thus reinforcing comprehension skills.
Listening to a story also encourages the development of imagination and creativity. Children learn to visualise places and characters, and to create a movie of the story in their heads, a skill that is indispensable to comprehension. The child identifies with the characters and imagines how they feel, understands the meaning of their actions and develops empathy skills. And repetition? It firmly establishes the child's ability to create mental images.
While this ritual is undeniably beneficial on an emotional level for children, it also helps them to build their future posture as readers, eager for stories and adventures.
So read with them, for them, whatever their age, and in the language you love!