ONCE upon a time more and more parents stopped reading books with their children at night.
Not in a fictional world far, far way, but right here, right now in 2017.
It seems the nightly tradition that is the perfect way for children and parents to bond at the end of a long day has undergone a dramatic decline in a single generation.
A new poll of mothers with children aged seven and under found that only 13% read their children bedtime stories every night, even though 78% were themselves read to.
Now I’m not a model parent but reading bedtime stories is one of my favourite parts of the day, and a rewarding experience for us all.
At the end of a hard day it can be tempting to make an excuse not to reach to the book shelf but you do it and it is always worth it.
It can be a magical trip down memory lane, rediscovering those stories of my own youth in worlds where wallpaper made out of chocolate exist, where animals talk to you, or where your adventures can transport you around the world.
The pollsters found that one of the major challenges appears to lie in getting children to pay attention to books.
Nearly half of those surveyed said their children found television, computer games, and other toys more diverting. Worryingly, 4% said their children do not own any books at all.
But reading together is a bedtime ritual that children love and one that parents could enjoy so much too if they just stopped and made the time to spend a few magical moments at the end of a manic day.
The benefits of bedtime stories for children are well-documented. They help children to wind down and sleep and help them to learn.
Booktrust CEO Diana Gerald says: “Reading with your child or baby is a great way to build vocabulary, confidence and imagination, as well as helping to calm your child’s mind at the end of a busy day.”
But surely those are benefits for grown-ups too. It certainly helps make a difficult day that bit easier as you slow down and get lost in the pages of a book yourself.
It’s really quite sad to see how few parents are able to regularly read their children bedtime stories.
While working long hours is out of many parents’ control, comprising and making a commitment to read to children on a day off or at the weekends to make it become a special part of the week could provide the happy ending that will see us all living happily ever after.