CITY BUZZ: Sweet dreams start with a story

Imogen Farah in her reading corner
Imogen Farah in her reading corner
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Immy was only a week old when we started reading aloud to her.

Of course she didn’t understand a word, but - even then - she seemed to calm as she listened to the lilting tones and animated voices.

It’s been lovely to see how her interaction with books has changed as the months and years have rolled by. We watched as she went from chewing the pages, to looking at the pictures. By the time she was a year old, she would join in with the various animal sounds and laugh whenever daddy did his ‘naughty witch’ voice. By two she had her favourites, the ones she would listen to, cover-to-cover, and then immediately demand ‘again.’ This went on for a week or so, and then the favourite would change. And now, at nearly three, she chooses two books each evening, after she’s bathed and in her PJs, and then crawls beneath the covers ready to listen. It’s a favourite time in our house, and no matter what we’re doing - juggling dinners and bathtime and scraping spaghetti off the kitchen floor - my husband and I always come together for that ten minutes of reading, each taking a page at a time, doing our best impressions and voices. Storytime isn’t going anywhere for us.

According to the literacy charity Booktrust, reading together with your children increases literacy skills, as well as helping to build a strong and loving relationship between parent and child. And it’s never too early to start reading with your child. Which is why the charity is preparing to launch its annual national Bath, Book, Bed campaign this month, designed to inspire the vision of every child reading for pleasure by encouraging families to make stories part of every child’s book-centred bedtime routine.

Sheffield Libraries will launch the campaign outside the Moor Market today, from 10am to 2pm, with under 5s and their families encouraged to come and join in the celebrations.

The Little Library will be on hand to offer stories and recommend book lists suitable for bedtime reading - and they will be joined by Peppa Pig for bedtime story sessions.

The Lullaby Trust will be offering advice around safe sleeping and the effect a good night’s sleep has on the wellbeing of babies and young children.

Campaign ambassador, and parenting expert Jo Frost, said: “There’s nothing better than snuggling up to share a soothing bedtime story. Sleep deprivation is the most common complaint I hear from parents of young children, but a routine as simple as ‘bath, book, bed’ can get young children to settle so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep.”