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Sharing bedtime stories with your child is an important night-time ritual for many parents. In fact, research has shown that children of parents who have bedtime stories show increased brain activity, particularly vocabulary and logic skills. Those skills will serve as the foundation for a better reader for the rest of their life. Bedtime stories also deepen your relationship with your kids and help to establish a bedtime routine (something every parent needs for their child). It’s also a time for both parents and children to wind down for the day.

Having said that, coming up with a bedtime story for your child EVERY night can be a little overwhelming. So what do you do when your child asks for a story and your mind goes blank? Here are some of my tips to get your creativity flowing!

1. Put your child in the story. Whether it’s princesses or superheroes (or superhero princesses), allowing your child the opportunity to be a part of the story you tell stretches their imagination and enhances their linguistic skills.

2. If you are reading a book, ask them, “What do you think happens next?” A plus for you, your child gives you a kick-start for coming up with the next part of your story—and a plus for them, they get to listen to the kind of story they want to hear!

3. Put your child in the storyteller’s seat by asking them to tell you their favorite story. Asking your child to retell a story back to you gives you (the master storyteller) a break. But it also allows them a chance to practice another important skill, memorization. Because children remember what they believe is important, allowing your child to tell the story they love gives you a front row seat into your child’s brain, and allows you to see what he or she values.

4. Take an old story and add a unique spin to it. This is the oldest trick in the book for storytellers of all kinds. Take an old story that everyone knows, like “Red Riding Hood,” and re-imagine it. What if Red Riding Hood could fly? Or what if she and the wolf became friends, instead of enemies?

The point of these suggestions is to make storytelling fun and interactive. Storytime should not be a tired old routine that you do because you have to. Storytime should be an important time for your child to relax and develop the skills that will serve them in their lifetime.

Do you tell your children bedtime stories? Let us hear them in the comments below!