Children who regularly listen to bedtime stories can learn to be more attentive at school and use their imaginations to visualize language. When the brain is resting before sleep, positive messages have a better chance of sticking in kids’ minds to influence and comfort them throughout life.
Of all the ways and places that stories are told, bedtime stories are the most intimate. Books are great, but there is something special about parents telling stories directly from their heads. The story becomes a gift—a pearl of wisdom, tailored lovingly to fit the needs of the particular child. Parent and child share a bond through storytelling that won’t be forgotten.
Think you don’t know any bedtime stories? That is ridiculous. I bet you could tell five great stories right now. Simplify the plot of a book you loved as a kid. Even if you barely remember the story, you know how it made you feel. Drop yourself in as a character and start mixing it with real life experiences. (See, this is good for your brain too!)
But eventually you’ll want to have some stock stories. There are lots of ways to build your bedtime story repertoire. To get started, pull inspiration from folk and fairy tales. There are data bases, like the Joy of Story Listening, that will give you quick summaries. Think of these folktales as the skeletons of your bedtime stories. Add muscle and flesh with descriptions and asides that you know will get your child’s attention.
You can also make your own stories! Once you’ve learned and told a series of folktales, give it a try. Start with a character that has a problem. Throw in some friends and enemies for this character as they try to fix the problem. Try giving it a twist—maybe the character doesn’t get what he or she wants, but they gets what she needs. (Basing stories on Rolling Stones songs is obviously another great idea.)
Don’t forget that as kids get ready for bed, their brains are even more receptive than usual so save the scary stuff for some other time!
You can do it! You can’t go wrong. Telling a bedtime story to your kids is like performing for the most important (and forgiving!) audience in the world. Whether you turn out to be the next J.K. Rowling or just stumble through retellings of Aesop’s fables, your kids will love relaxing to your voice because you love them.
We hope you liked this Growing Tree Toys Let’s Play Post. For more on the Art of Storytelling, I highly recommend Effective Story Telling: A Manual for Beginners. While all of the images or posts may not be child-appropriate, there are a number of interesting pictures at the blog, A Journey Round My Skull that can serve as inspiration for great stories. “Bedtime Story” painting is by Mary G. Smith.