Surviving Story-Time: The Out Of Depth Dad Guide

13/10/2017 14:33 BST | Updated 13/10/2017 14:33 BST

It's easy for this (often pre-bedtime) ritual to turn into something hugely stressful for the poor parent saddled with reading yet another pass at some mind-numbing tale.

Don't let this happen to you!

Here's my OODD Guide TO: Surviving Story-time

1: Don't Expect a Story

No matter how good the book you choose to share with your little one is, the likelihood is they won't be focusing on the salient points of the narrative.

Essentially any time spent reading with a baby should be viewed like watching an episode of The Only Way Is Essex - nothing sensible, clever or barely coherent is going to happen. All you'll get is incoherent babbling and the overriding wish for the experience to be over (very) quickly.

2: Drop any 'O.C.D.' tendencies

If you're the type of person that is a little 'precious' about their things - you know, plastic covers on the sofas and dry cleaning your tea towels - you'll need to put that aside when reading to a baby.

You might buy a lovely 'lift the flap' book - something beautifully rendered that you need to take out a small mortgage to purchase - yet the baby will have no respect for it, whatsoever. Flaps will be savagely ripped from the pages without ceremony, pages will be chewed up, vomit stains will mask the most beautiful drawings.

3: Choose somewhere comfortable to sit

As soon as the baby is mobile it will make your experience of reading to them as uncomfortable as possible. They'll swiftly turn you into a human climbing frame as you valiantly try to act out the story of Snow White or whatever. Expect to be kicked, scratched, stood on, prodded and even bitten as you attempt to complete your newfound narrator role.

Believe me, it will be hell, so it pays to sit somewhere comfortable.

4: Pick the 'right' book

It cannot to be understated how important it is to think before choosing a book for your child.


Simply put, this book may turn into 'The Book' the one they insist upon being read to them at any given opportunity. So before you take it up to the book shop counter, ask yourself - 'would I be happy reading this book out loud 500 times?' It sounds extreme but it might happen!

Make sure it isn't the text equivalent of Jedward - all very amusing when you first see it, but likely to make you want to end it all when it appears for the 1000th time.

5: Get ready for Deja Vu

Even the most engaging of reads is likely to sound like bad karaoke after a prolonged period on the bedside table pile. Add into this mix a child's inevitable desire to hear their 'favourite' bits over (and over and over) again and you'll be in need of sedation by the end of storytime!

6: Voices are tricky

Remember that if you start doing 'voices' when reading to your child, you're setting a very tricky precedent to maintain. Yes, your young 'un may love the 'hilarious' tones of the giraffe that you perform at their bedside, but ask yourself would you be happy to do that same performance on a busy train?

Your child will expect a pitch-perfect read through of their favourite story whenever and where-ever you're called upon to do it. What seemed like a good idea at first may leave you feeling a bit of a dodo when you're reading out loud while waiting for the delayed flight to Malaga.

7: Don't be afraid to 'lose' books

Sometimes you just won't be able to take it any more. You'll have read all about Fox's lost socks just one time too many. In these cases you need to put yourself first.

You won't be the first parent to lose a book 'accidentally on purpose'. If it's a painful read then an instant re-gift is the answer. Consider giving it to the child of someone you don't like (that's probably what happened to you).

8: Books with sounds: Avoid them like the plague

The amazing noise of a cannon being fired is great the first time you're reading that fascinating book on pirates. It isn't, however, quite so pleasing when you've heard it repeatedly triggered by the little monster in the backseat of the car for over an hour.

Any book (or toy) with sound effects is bad news. Period. Remember noisy books are like vampires - you have to let them into your home for their malign work to be done.

Just don't do it!


I hope this OODD Guide to: Surviving Story-time will help you through this potential minefield.

Good Luck! You'll need it!

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The Out of Depth Dad