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

Lexie Scherer, Amanda Norman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages21
    JournalEuropean Journal of Life Writing
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023


    • children’s sleep
    • autobiographical writing
    • reader response
    • mothering

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