Sharing bedtime stories with your child is an important nighttime ritual for many parents. In fact, research has shown that children of parents who tell bedtime stories show increased brain activity, particularly in vocabulary and logic skills. Those skills will serve as the foundation for making them a better reader for the rest of their lives.

But trust me…I know that coming up with a bedtime story for your child EVERY night can be a little overwhelming. You can only read the same books so many times before your child gets bored. You can only talk about the same characters (princesses and superheroes) for so long. So what do you do when your child asks for a story and your mind goes blank?

Put your child in the story. Whether it’s princesses or superheroes (or superhero princesses), allowing your child the opportunity to be in the story stretches their thinking muscles and enhances their linguistic skills. It also gives the chance to develop and enhance another muscle, their imagination.

Put your child in the storyteller’s seat. Asking your child to retell a story back to you gives you (the master storyteller) a break. It also allows them to practice another important skill—memory. Because children remember what they believe is important, allowing your child to tell the story gives you a front row seat into what your child values.

Take an old  story and add a unique spin to it. This is an old trick that storytellers have always used. Take an old story that everyone knows like “Red Riding Hood” and reimagine it. What if Red Riding Hood could fly? What if Jack didn’t climb the beanstalk, and chose to take the elevator instead?

Storytelling should always be fun and interactive. Put these tips to use, and you’ll become a bedtime hero! And don’t forget to let me know how your stories turned out in the comments.