ONCE upon a time, well, actually it’s only within the past year that I wrote about the sad decline in the number of parents telling or reading bedtime stories to their young children.

Now a report from Explore Learning shows that this is the case throughout Dorset but in essence it is little different from what I had already written in Island Eye.

The only difference is that they did a wide survey of the county to find this out and this must have cost a considerable amount of money. I did my survey by chatting to some parents on Portland and a few friends further afield – my survey cost nothing and each came to the same conclusion.

It is so sad that the pastime of bedtime storytelling should almost be extinct, probably because of the ever-progressing technology which leaves children preferring to indulge in music and games rather than in stories.

The Explore Learning report states that today’s fairy stories are ‘too sanitised’ – well, I know nothing about today’s fairy stories and if ‘too sanitised’ means that children are looking for the sort of mayhem that can be found on the internet games then they should try reading some of Grimm’s fairy tales, some of which are enough to make your hair stand on end!

I always loved telling my ‘made-up’ stories to my children and gradually I encouraged them to add a chapter of their own and although this often bore little resemblance to mine it encouraged their imaginations.

I also told them the conventional fairy tales, moved on to reading books which appealed to them, especially the I Spy books, where pictures taught them more than I could and even comics, with our all time favourites being Classic Comics which illustrated and gave shortened versions of stories such as Treasure Island, Lorna Doone and Gulliver’s Travels. I still think that bedtime stories go a long way towards ‘happy ever after’ childhood memories.