Bedtime reading as important as ever for

UK parents and children RAF Association’s Storybook Wings project helps serving parents to ‘make it home’ for bedtime

currently use Storybook Wings spend an average of 110 nights away from home every year,meaning they often miss the chance to read to their children. Given that the RAF family includes almost 200,0001 children under the age of 16, the Association launched the Storybook Wings scheme to make sure that children can hear their parent’s voices when separated.

70 per cent of parents read to their child at least once aday*, according to new research from the Royal Air Forces Association.

The Association surveyed members of the public to find out more about the average bedtime in aUKhousehold. Despite technological advances, a surprising 83 per cent of parents and grandparents still prefer to read physical books to their child/grandchild, rather than using devices like aKindle or iPad.

The Gruffalo was cited as the most popular children’s book, with 40 per cent of respondents naming it in their top five, and its writer,Julia Donaldson, the most popular author with 63 per cent of respondents naming at least one of her books in their top five.

While stories at bedtime retain enduring popularity,serving RAF parents who

The scheme, which helps serving parents and grandparents record their favourite stories, has been used by 371 serving personnel in the last year making 62,604 bedtimes better.2,300 families have used it since it was set up in 2009. Storybook Wings recording devices are now available at 32 RAF stations in the UK and personnel are also able to record stories while on active duty,with two recorders in Afghanistan plus others in Cyprus, the Netherlands and at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands.

Flight Sergeant Wayne Swiggs, a Storybook Wings participant, said: “Being stationed away from home and the family is always tough but, unfortunately, it comes with the territory.Itmeans the world to me to know that my sons will hear my voice every night before they go to bed. Storybook Wings has been an invaluable means of maintaining that strong connection with my boys and has

really made it seem like almost no time has passed since Iwas last home.”

Shameera Mandhu, Storybook Wings welfare project officer,RAF Association, said: “These findings highlight how important storytelling is for parents and children. We understand the challenges for parents who are stationed away from home and children shouldn’t have to go for long periods of time without hearing their parents’ or grandparents’ voices. By helping them to record their favourite stories, we hope to bring mum and dad home for an extra special end to the day.

“The scheme is open to serving parents and grandparents who are stationed away from home, whether that is overseas or within the UK.”

*parent respondents

About the survey The Royal Air Forces Association conducted an online survey of 184 members of the public in February 2017.

For more information: what-we-do/storybook-wings/ 

1 Meeting the Needs of the RAF Family.December 2015. Research by RAF Benevolent Fund and Compass Partnership. Summer 2017 Envoy 41

©RAF Association.

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