I was reading this article about bedtime stories (via Feministe).

My parents would read me a story before I went to bed each night, and it was always something I looked forward to. .. This absolutely fostered a love of literature and reading in me from a very young age, and had I not had this experience, I might not have become an English major in undergrad and gone on to teach high school English.

I think every family has some kind of bedtime ritual like this.  Kids like rituals, in general, and I know I did when I was little.

It gets really interesting when she points out that it doesn’t matter what you do before bed. It doesn’t have to be a story:

[B]edtime math can be a great way to get kids, especially girls, involved with math from a very young age. This is important because, although there is no difference in math ability between girls and boys, girls do tend to suffer more from math anxiety than their male counterparts. If parents can expose their children to math in a fun, comforting environment, this can help alleviate math anxiety in school. If using bedtime stories is important to foster a love of reading in children, then the same can definitely be said for using bedtime math.

It’s been a while since I had a bedtime.  Probably even longer since I’ve been read to. But I remember one thing my dad would always do after a story.

“Do you have any questions?” he’d ask.

That tradition stuck around even when he didn’t read to me. I’d shout (I have no manners) “Good night!”, and he’d come upstairs and say, “Good night, Cate. Do you have any questions?”.

Sometimes when I wanted to stay up a little longer, I’d try to think of something to ask. “How do cars work?” “How did you and Mom meet?” And then he’d sit down and talk about it for a while.

My dad is one of those guys who seems to know a little about everything – I’d catch him reading my school textbooks for no reason but curiosity.  I think the reason he kept asking whether there was anything I wanted to know was to try to share that with me.  Not just getting good grades, but wanting to know things.

I don’t know if it took. I mean, if this woman says her love of books comes from bedtime stories, and the linked blogger is trying to make her daughter comfortable with math by bedtime math problems, you’d expect me to become a researcher or scientist from bedtime questions, and I’m not.

It was a great tradition, though, and it was a low-pressure chance to just sit and talk with my dad.

Maybe if I have a daughter I’ll try it with her.

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