Sleep ‘self help’ books: autobiographical evaluations and personal entanglements with reading professional advice books on young children’s sleep. An exploration of the journey through early parenting and managing sleep through two mothers-as-researchers perspectives.
Keywords:children’s sleep, autobiographical writing, reader response, mothering
This article reports on two researchers’ experiences of navigating children’s night-time sleep, in relation to reading best-selling parenting books, published by professionals in the UK in the last 20 years. We felt we were ‘getting it wrong’ where we so badly wanted to ‘get it right’ for our children, because they did not sleep like the books described: silent, solitary, separate and for 12 uninterrupted night-time hours. It was also not possible to ‘read’ the advice without owning our own positionality: in particular our classed, professional identities. Perhaps this is always the case in research, and we should ‘treat our bias as a resource’ as seminal life history work urges. We found we could not but take the advice personally, which tended to focus on behaviour-orientated strategies within the routines and rituals around night-time sleep. We harness an under-studied approach within Early Childhood research, Reader-Response theory, which argues reading is a transaction; the reader brings personal context to the text at the same time as gleaning information from it. Seeing reading as a transaction helps us understand how our identities feed into our reading: our readings shape, but also are shaped by our contexts.
Copyright (c) 2023 Lexie Scherer, Amanda Norman
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.