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. 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?
1. 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.
2. If you are reading a book, ask them, “What do you think happens next?”
3. Put your child in the storyteller’s seat. Ask them to tell you their favorite story.
Asking your child to retell a story back to you gives you (the master storyteller) a break. In addition to allowing them to practice another important skill, memory. Because children (actually everyone) remembers what they believe is important, allowing your child to tell the story gives you a front row seat into what your child values.
4. Take an old story and add a unique spin to it.
This is an old trick that people ranging from writers to Disney use. Take an old story that everyone knows like “Red Riding Hood” and re-imagine it. What is Red Riding Hood could fly? What if Jack didn’t climb the beanstalk, choosing to take the elevator?
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.