‘Once upon a time…’
Four little words and the magic begins.
Story is a basic human need. I want to highlight the value of sharing stories with children even if divorce is taking your time and attention.
Imagine an elixir so strong that a daily dose would make your family smarter, happier, healthier, more successful, and more closely attached. Now imagine that you could have it without spending a dime.from ‘The Enchanted Hour’, Meghan Cox Gurdon
So begins the blurb on Meghan Cox Gurdon’s recent book, ‘The Enchanted Hour’ which waxes lyrical about the benefits of reading aloud to children. As a former English teacher and avid bookworm myself, this is nothing new to me, but I am always encouraged to see books like these hit the shelves in the hope that it will encourage more parents to indulge in a story with their children.
For children whose parents are divorcing, I believe story has an especially important part to play.
Sharing stories offers myriad benefits to emotional wellbeing and mental health as well as their language development.
This applies whether you snuggle up with a book; whether you tell a story from your imagination or if you’re telling stories from your own family history.
During divorce, you and your children have specific needs. It might come as a relief to learn that some of these needs are met in the simple pleasure of reading together. Reading together is so easy to do; costs very little and can take place anywhere: at home, while waiting for a sibling at a club, in the bath, in the park…
Dorothy Butler put forward a strong case for reading to infants in her wonderful book, ‘Babies Need Books’. Rereading this recently, I came across a passage that might resonate with separated parents, even if your children are no longer babies. There’s no denying that one of the worst aspects of being divorced is the time spent separated not from your ex but from your children, and finding ways to feel connected benefits all of you.
‘A reassuring truth, in these days of increasing female involvement in the world outside the home, is that quality, not quantity, is the keynote of any relationship…
It is my belief that there is no ‘parent’s aid’ which can compete with the book in its capacity to establish and maintain a relationship with a child. Its effects extend far beyond the covers of the actual book, and invade every aspect of life. Parents and children who share books come to to share the same frame of reference. Incidents in every day life constantly remind one or the other – or both, simultaneously – of a situation, a character, an action, from a jointly enjoyed book, with all the generation of warmth and well-being that is attendant upon such sharing.’From ‘Babies Need Books’, Dorothy Butler p xii
I could write reams (and indeed reams have been written) about the benefits of reading to and with children. But, seize the moment, seize the book. Snuggle up together and enjoy a story. This small gesture, which might feel like ‘doing nothing’ could be just the balm your child needs.
Your children’s emotional wellbeing is of crucial importance and is never far from my mind when working with clients. Get in touch for a complimentary chat if you’d like to find out more about how I can provide help as you navigate the divorce process.
- The Enchanted Hour – Meghan Cox Gurdon
- Why you Should Read Children’s Books – Katharine Rundell
- The Story Cure – An A to Z of Books to Keep Kids Happy, Healthy & Wise – Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin
Independent Bookshops (great for recommendations)
- Heywood Hill – The Bookshop at 10 Curzon Street 020 7629 0647 https://www.heywoodhill.com
- John Sandoe Books – 020 7589 9473 https://johnsandoe.com
- Your local independent bookshop, library or English teachers at school
- Prep School Reading Lists (others available online or Children’s Books sections of newspapers have great suggestions) https://www.keystonetutors.com/news/prep-school-years-4-to-8-reading-lists