Bedtime Stories

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 121 – 17 October 2012

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Bedtime Stories

I wrote in a previous article (Kidz Newz #120) about the importance of having rituals and habits in place because of their positive effect in allowing all of us, including children, to achieve to our greatest potential. One such ritual for children is the bedtime story. When children are bathed, fed and ready for bed, reading is a wonderful way to induce sweet dreams. It does operate rather like a tacit bribe wherein children know that if they hurry up to get ready for bed that they’ll be rewarded with maybe more than one story. Of course the benefit is the language, the stimulation of the imagination, the exposure to wonderful pictures but above all, the special undivided attention and time with a parent who is not distracted by other essential activities of the day.

A ritual such as this, established at an early age, means that there’s a strong likelihood the child will continue to enjoy reading well beyond his school years and into adulthood because the experience was pleasurable. As adults, who doesn’t enjoy reading a few pages of a good book before bed? As students, the willingness to read has obvious consequences in exam results. And then there’s the old adage, ‘leaders are readers’. Encouraging reading at a young age can only be good. This is not to say that bedtime is the only time a child should be read to. Of course not, but there’s something special about the rituals of bedtime and the bedtime story is paramount among them.

Parents can sometimes be concerned about whether the books are suitable. It doesn’t matter, because the purpose of the exercise is to have that ritual, that special bonding between parent and child. Of course the child should choose the book or books. If the child chooses a very long book, it may take two or three nights to read, and that’s OK. Maybe it’s an anthology of short stories or fairy tales. Again, the child can choose one per night.

My niece, whose children appear in my ‘Scarf Magic’ DVD, told me that every night before bed her children are allowed to choose one book each before bed, plus one that they both want. (The baby has usually gone to bed by the time the reading for the older one starts.) She told me that the joint book the children often choose is Scarf Magic! How hilarious is that? Now in case you don’t yet have a copy of this, let me explain that it is a ‘how to’ book about playing with your children using music and scarves (to develop the imagination, co-ordination, awareness of concepts, exposure to drama and dance and so on). It is not a story book. Nevertheless, as stars of the book and DVD, they love to have this book read to them, as they love to watch the DVD and join in with ‘those children’ (that is, themselves). Their father sits them down on the couch and duly reads, ‘The first time you bring out the scarves your toddler or pre-schooler will be overjoyed.’ The children are engrossed in this ‘story’. I don’t know how much he manages to get through, but perhaps he reads just a few pages per night. They MUST know it off by heart by now.

So you see it doesn’t matter what the book is, so long as the child is being read to. Please encourage the parents in your midst to read to their children every night. It is so important.

Introducing Berty Button

Berty Button, believe it or not, is an enormous truck covered in jelly beans. Now this would surely be the makings of a great children’s story, and you’d be right for thinking so. I have had the privilege of being invited to write the series of children’s picture books for the Bertybutton Kids company, a division of Bertybutton Transport. The first in the series, ‘Berty Button Gets A Team’, is now available for pre-launch sales and is due to be launched officially in the coming weeks. Suitable for children aged 4-8 years and brilliantly illustrated by Ryan Jones, the first story in the series, as the name implies, is all about Berty Button and how he comes to acquire two more members of the fleet. It is very funny and very endearing. I encourage you to get a copy and read it to your children asap.

Prior to publication, a few of us have had the opportunity of trialling the story with groups of children and all have loved it. If you are in Western Australia, Children’s Week is on from 21-28 October and there are a number of story readings involving Berty Button, including photo opportunities and colouring-in competitions. I encourage you to take part if you can. You can purchase copies from me (please email me or go to You can also find details on meeting ‘Berty Button’ on Sunday 21 October at the WA Children’s Week 2012 Opening Expo, Whiteman Park from 10am to 2pm. Have your photo taken with the larger-than-life Berty Button truck! If you can’t make it, be sure to join the Bertybutton Kids team on Facebook and hear about the journeys of Berty Button, Quartez and Mini Bert.

PD DVD Let’s Get Physical

Because of Berty Button and teaching and examining, I haven’t had time to run any PDs this year, much to the disappointment of many, I’m sure. I mentioned last year that I was putting together a DVD of a PD session I ran in Tasmania a couple of years ago. I had hoped and planned on bringing it into existence earlier this year but had problems with copyright clearance and technical issues. These have finally been resolved and I expect to have copies within the week. The DVD will be accompanied by comprehensive notes and it runs for 1 hour 34 minutes, short enough to watch in one go or you can select bits from the menu. It is divided into segments the way Kidz-Fiz-Biz books are sectioned. It will retail for $49.50 including GST. Because I feel so dreadful about this enormous delay, having been talking about it for 12 months, postage will be free until 31st December 2012. Please contact me at (if you purchase from the website, you will be charged postage).

Quotes of the Week

“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations – something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” ~ Katherine Patterson

“A donkey with a load of books is still a donkey.” ~ Traditional Sufi saying

“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. We do not fail overnight. Failure is the inevitable result of an accumulation of poor thinking and poor choices. To put it more simply, failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day. Now why would someone make an error in judgement and then be so foolish as to repeat it every day?

The answer is because he or she does not think that it matters.” ~ Jim Rohn


A poem from this year’s Children’s Poetry category gold medallist, Mister Lemur’s Train of Thought:


What do you think you will be
when it’s two thousand forty-three?

If I were asked to make a bet
I’d say it’s not invented yet,
that you’ll do something not yet known,
like fix a “Whoosh” of fly a “Kone”.

Perhaps you’ll cure a new disease,
or sail a new-found planet’s seas
aboard a ship that floats on air
while sitting in a captain’s chair.

You have no plan? No need to fret,
your job’s not been invented yet!

Feedback (Comments from the Geraldton (WA) PD in August 2011)

Q: What would you tell other people about this presentation?

“It was excellent. I’d tell people about it. Thanks.”

“Very beneficial to music sessions.”

“Worth doing. It was a great session. I look forward to doing another PD.”

“It was excellent. Go along.”

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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