Back to school – supporting reading with DisneyLife

I am a DisneyLife Brand Ambassador and this post was created in partnership with DisneyLife who have provided me with a free 12 month DisneyLife membership.

What are your favourite books to read to your children? When Bee and Belle were little, I loved reading them books that I remembered from my own childhood. 

With books that I particularly loved, I’ve not only read them to my own children, but I’ve also passed them on to my sister for my nephew and niece, who are now seven and five. When we were staying with them a few weeks ago, for my sister’s wedding, I had the chance to relive my childhood when it fell to me to be in charge of story time for my niece Mia.

She snuggled down into bed, and I picked out some of my favourites. 

“Can we read two?” she asked, with a sparkle in her eyes.

“We can read three!” I told her, more excited than she was.  

I showed her where I had written in the back of the books when I was little like her. ‘It’s not very good writing,’ I admitted, ‘but I was only small.’

‘Writing is tricky though,’ she sympathised. ‘I was trying to write a card for Grandad and Clare yesterday and I accidentally wrote ‘multivitamin’ instead.’ We laughed at that for a long time. She cracks me up.

Books are an important part of my sister’s life too and for her wedding she put together little bag of treats for all the children. Each child had a book of their own, which meant I got the chance at dinner to read to some of the younger members of the family too.

reading to children

I’ve always been a big reader, and I appreciate how important it is to read regularly with your children. That’s not to say it has always been top of my list of ‘things I’d really like to do’ at the end of a busy day. Especially not when they’ve insisted on the same dull books over and over again, and although I’ve tried my best, (sort of), I’m not sure I’ve always been as enthusiastic as I should have been.

To me though, reading has always been as essential a part of their development as feeding them and washing them*; something that you just do. Even now, when Belle is 14, we still often read to each other at bedtime. Again, it’s often things that I remember from my childhood, books that are special to me and that I want to share. As she gets older, it feels like a lovely way for us to connect, away from everyday life.

Last week we read The Mystery of the Chinese Junk. The Hardy Boys are a slightly stupider version of Nancy Drew. Most of the time you feel like they solve mysteries more by luck than judgement, but it’s good fun, and much nicer for me than reading ‘Where’s Spot?’ 14 times in a row.

Hardy Boys Chinese Junk mystery

Reading with DisneyLife App

I think that’s one of the things that’s so nice about the books on the DisneyLife app. (Remember we’re DisneyLife ambassadors?) There are plenty of contemporary characters, but there are also all those much loved Disney characters from your own childhood. It feels almost like passing on a legacy, encouraging and sharing the enjoyment of something that you loved yourself as a child. Even the most reluctant of readers are going to get on board with Disney – you can’t help but love the characters.

DisneyLife App books

Books on DisneyLife are split into lots of different categories, so you can search by Disney character, alphabetically, or by reading stage, so you can choose something appropriate for the age of your child. Some of the books are simply books to read, others are audio, and some are read along. On the read along books, the words light up as they are spoken, which helps children make the connection between how the word sounds and how it looks written down.

DisneyLife App books

You may also discover Disney gems you never even knew existed. Browsing through the ‘storytellers & storyettes’ section, I was absolutely thrilled to discover Perri the squirrel. Have you ever heard of Perri? It was apparently a 1957 Disney film about a squirrel, that was produced as part of the ‘True Life Adventures’ documentary series. The Perri Storyteller features a collection of songs and stories, and was just charming. (Although a little scary when she meets some predators!)

DisneyLife App books

Sign up to the DisneyLife app now, on Android or iOs. Membership is just £9.99, with the first month free, and you get the best of Disney all in one place – new and classic films, short movies, TV, and of course the books. It’s brilliant for using at home, in the car, at sleepovers – anywhere really! (We’ve all been using it and I think Bee has got value for money already just in Jonas brothers.) I’m sure the next time Belle sees her cousins she’s going to enjoy reading them stories too. Mia is a big Princess fan.

Reading and confidence

My sister’s wedding actually prompted a very proud reading related moment, which showed just why it’s important to read with your children. Both Bee and Belle did readings at the ceremony – Bee had written a poem and Belle read out a story about two dinosaurs – and they were both fantastic. I know Belle at least was very nervous, but you couldn’t tell. They both looked so confident and grown-up, and they read beautifully. This confidence is a big part of what regularly reading as a family gives you.

Watching them reading and seeing how proud the rest of the family looked, I got the feeling that perhaps I ‘d not done such a bad job after all.

reading to children DisneyLife

  *Perhaps washing isn’t a good example, as I’ve never been good at keeping kids clean.




  1. 21 September, 2016 / 10:47 am

    We’re big readers in this house too and I think giving kids a love of reading is a huge gift. This is very apt actually as we started The Secret Garden last night – my favourite book as a child and now passed on to my 6 year old! The Disney app looks brilliant – going to have a look at this for Frog. x

    • Jo Middleton
      21 September, 2016 / 11:18 am

      I loved that book as a child Molly! I started reading it to Belle a little while ago but she found my Yorkshire accents too hilarious!

  2. 21 September, 2016 / 1:48 pm

    I agree with what you’re saying about the importance of reading to/with children – I read to my nephew a LOT as I’m determined for him to engage with books! After reading this I think I’ll invest in the DisneyLife app too!

  3. 21 September, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    Books are so important! I’m definitely going to give DisneyLife a go as often my children want to listen to more books than time allows – this sounds like it’d be great for them to listen to together while they’re dropping off to sleep.

  4. 21 September, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    How lovely that your girls got to read at their auntie’s wedding. We love reading together as a family, but it kind of tailed off a bit with later bedtimes during the summer. Time to get back to it, because it’s such a lovely time to connect for us all. Must check out that Disney app, Levi would love it! x

  5. 21 September, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    I’m not usually a big Disney fan but I’ll have to have a look.

    We read a lot – although I’m embarrassed to admit we only joined the library this week as I’m on mat leave and earnings have dropped!

  6. 22 September, 2016 / 10:46 pm

    I love books and thankfully both children seem to have inherited that love. I like that they can read through the app too. It would be great if you’re on holiday and don’t want to take loads of books with you.

  7. 23 September, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    we’re all big book lovers here too, the app sounds fab – Baya would love it!

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