bedtime stories
From The Daily Telegraph


Are parents now to take on the guilt for reading to their children?  Don’t pay attention to previous parenting tips of bonding with your child and spurring on their love of reading by taking time to read books with them at night.  You are creating an unfair advantage over less fortunate children who don’t have parents who take the time to read with them.  From Reading to children at bedtime: ABC questions value of time-honoured practice:

“Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t — the difference in their life chances — is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

Gelonesi responded online: “This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion that perhaps — in the interests of levelling the playing field — bedtime stories should also be restricted.”


Should bedtime reading be a bedtime ritual for you and your children and a tradition looked forward to each evening, tamp it down with some guilt:


Swift said parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.

“I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,” he said.


Is Swift’s premise that parents are now responsible for a collective group of children?  Are parents supposed to be concerned about the parenting reading rituals of other families or are they supposed to focus on their family unit and assist their children in reading and other areas of life?  Should they have guilt because of the time they spend with their children?  Swift wants to create parental guilt for helping their children (for whom they are the legal guardians) by thinking about how this privilege of reading to their children is unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children ‘from time to time’.

Instead of offering parenting classes to inform parents of the benefits (emotionally and intellectually) of bedtime reading, guilt and shame is suggested for those who do take the time and effort for this nightly ritual.   As a commenter on the Daily Telegraph remarked:

reading to children

This comment is the definition of educational equity.  This is the argument for the educational reform being pushed through by CCSSO and the phrase I hear (educational equity) in school board meetings.  Everything for everybody as long as it is common.  Everybody gets taught the same because the same outcome is to be reached.  So dear parents who take the time to read to their children at night: STOP IT.  You are not looking out for the collective.  You are concerned about your individual child and this radical parenting act will hold other children back.  Don’t try to be an exceptional parent for an exceptional child.  Let your guilt overwhelm you (why only entertain it occasionally?) and stop this silly goal.

Adam Smith’s biography from Wikipedia:

Adam Swift (born 1961) is a British political philosopher and sociologist who promotes liberal egalitarianism. He has published books on communitarianism, on the philosophical aspects of school choice, and on social justice, as well as an extremely successful introduction to contemporary political theory which has been translated into several languages.

Swift studied PPE at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was taught by Steven Lukes. He then did an MPhil in Sociology at Nuffield College, and subsequently became a Fellow of Balliol College. He completed his DPhil while a Fellow, on the topic of ‘A Sociologically Informed Political Theory’.[1] He has since been Director of the Oxford Centre for the Study of Social Justice, and has held visiting positions at Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Australian National University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.[2] He is currently working on developing a liberal egalitarian theory of the family with Harry Brighouse. Since January 2013, he has been Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick. [3]

Swift writes for both academic and non-academic audiences, and frequently opines on education.[4][5]

Swift is a member of Giving What We Can, an international society for the promotion of poverty relief.[6]


For a further discussion on Swift’s promotion of educational equality vs educational adequacy, read here.



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