Birmingham mums were told that parenting experts only provide the tools to help with child care issues, and the real magic comes from families themselves, when TV parenting guru Jo Frost crossed the Atlantic to drop in on mums and their children at The St Thomas’s Children’s Centre, Bell Barn Rd, yesterday.

Jo was visiting the centre as ambassador for  BookTrust's Bath Book Bed campaign which wants parents and carers to adopt the soothing night-time routine of Bath Book Bed, after a survey revealed that most parents of young children feel sleep deprived and would pay thousands of pounds to end sleepless nights { see Birmingham stats in attachment}.  Adopting a regular night-time routine, of Bath Book Bed can help calm children, encourage family reading, and lead to more peaceful bedtimes and a better night’s sleep.

Diana Gerald, BookTrust Chief Executive said: ‘Bedtime battles are all too common and families up and down the country know that once you have children, a good night’s sleep can sometimes seem like a distant memory. But a simple routine of bath, book, bed has been used by parents for generations and we hope it will help struggling families. We can’t think of a better preparation for a good night’s sleep than a cuddle and a bedtime story.’

More than 20 children and their parents attended Jo’s fun rhyme and reading session at the Centre, where Jo, slipped off her shoes and sat on the play mats with the children, urging parents to adopt the routine, and showing them how to make family reading fun for all. No stranger to a bit of child’s play herself, Jo launched herself on the floor, acting out stories and getting everybody involved in singing and reading.

She reminded  parents of the benefits of reading with children every day, and demonstrated how a bit of animated fun, noise and expression can enliven stories for small children. To help get everyone involved, after reading and singing, Jo began a story and then passed the book around every parent in turn asking them to read the next page, using animated language. All the parents joined in and learned that even if they lack confidence in reading, by being lively and making stories fun, they can encourage a love of books and provide a wonderful night-time story.

Jo told parents some facts about reading, letting them know that just 20 minutes a day of reading with their children could place them 6 months to a year ahead of their peers when they start school, and that reading for fun has a massive impact on their children’s life chances, attainment and wellbeing.

The session ended with parents asking for help with parenting issues, where Jo encouraged them to listen to their gut feelings. She said that she only guides families, helps provide them with the tools to deal with their issues, but  “But the real magic comes from the families, the magic is from you!”.

Laura Edwards, who manages the Ladywood Locality Children’s Centres, said:  “We have a long history of working with the Book Trust and understand the importance of parents reading with their children.  The Bath Book Bed initiative is a great idea which we are proud to support and our parents who thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Jo Frost.”