A bedtime story is a traditional form of storytelling, where a story is told to a child at bedtime to prepare the child for sleep. The bedtime story has long been considered "a definite institution in many families".
Reading bedtime stories yields multiple benefits for parents and children alike. The fixed routine of a bedtime story before sleeping can improve the child's brain development, language mastery, and logical thinking skills. The storyteller-listener relationship creates an emotional bond between the parent and the child. Due to "the strength of the imitative instinct" of a child, the parent and the stories that they tell act as a model for the child to follow.
Bedtime stories are also useful for teaching the child abstract virtues such as sympathy, unselfishness, and self-control, as most children are said to be "naturally sympathetic when they have experienced or can imagine the feelings of others". Thus, bedtime stories can be used to discuss darker subjects such as death and racism. As the bedtime stories broaden in theme, the child "will broaden in their conception of the lives and feelings of others".
- Dickson, Marguerite Stockman (1919). Vocational Guidance for Girls. p. 90–93.
- Jones, Patti (2011). "The Brainy Benefits of Bedtime Stories". Parents Magazine.