Department of Education & Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin D01 RC96 mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie 01-8892199

Benefits of bedtime stories should be signalled to parents on World Book Day

Speaking on the eve of World book Day, Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy and Chair of the FG Committee on Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said the benefits of reading a bedtime story with a child should be flagged with parents in the interest of encouraging reading for enjoyment by children at an early age.


“The foundations of good literacy are established in childhood but all too often good reading habits are not encouraged at an early stage, to the detriment of our children in later life. World Book Day takes place tomorrow, the main aim of which is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books by providing children with school packs and book tokens.

“A 2009 report entitled ‘Growing up in Ireland – The Lives of 9 year olds’ found that boys reported a lower incidence of reading for fun than girls, with 25% of boys reporting reading for fun every day compared to 36% of girls. Eight percent of boys reported never reading for fun, compared to just three percent of girls. The responsibility for the education of our children does not lie just with our schools. Parents have a critical role to play in encouraging children to read from an early age. The benefits of reading at home will help children to realise their full potential and will stand to them throughout the course of their lives.

“Reading to children stimulates their development and gives them a head start when they reach school. Sharing a bedtime story with a child also promotes their motor skills, through learning to turn the pages, and enhances memory. It also improves emotional and social development.

“Reading allowed is a period of shared attention and emotion between a parent and a child which reinforces reading as a pleasurable activity. I am lucky enough to have fond memories of my mother reading to me as a child; listening to her read Enid Blyton books allowed and getting lost in the fabulous illustrations.

“At the end of the day knowledge is power and to unlock this power good literacy skills are essential. The foundations of good literacy are established in childhood, a point which should be hammered home to parents while their children enjoy World Book Day tomorrow.”