How to Elevate Your Bedtime Stories

January 13, 2022

Let’s be real: Coming up with bedtime stories night after night is no easy task. How do you keep it fresh and interesting? And big yikes, what if your kids are yawning from boredom rather than sleep?

Luckily, there are plenty of tips you can use to create engaging, exciting stories. That’s good news, because bedtime stories inspire imagination, creativity and outside-the-box thinking in your kiddos. And while those things are crucial, the most prized aspect of bedtime stories is the bond between parent and child.

These are special moments, and a chance to create lasting memories that they’ll carry forever.

Okay, so let’s get to the good stuff — like how to deliver those memorable epic sagas when you’re exhausted!

“The bedtime story is a genius invention. A tiny gift of wonder before you fall asleep.” ~Carolyn Watson Dubisch


Remember the basics

It’s important to remember that every good story has a few basic elements, so here’s a quick refresher:

  • A beginning, middle and end
  • A setting with sensory details
  • Conflict + resolution
  • A hero + a villain


Use your child as a guide

What does your kid love? From princesses to dragons and fire trucks, cater to their interests before anything else. 

If your child loves firetrucks, tell a heroic story about how a fire truck saved the day. Get creative with their curiosity, and you’ll see a spark of recognition and excitement.


Put your child center stage

That’s right — make your child the main character in the story you tell. 

What’s more exciting than being the hero that saves the day? The princess that slays the dragon? Putting them in the center of the action will engage them even further and have them ready to see how it ends. Even better, insert their pet or beloved favorite toy as their trusty sidekick. 

No yawns here. Your child will make it to the end. 


Use different voices for your characters

There’s nothing kids love more than seeing you get goofy. Don’t have stage fright, because they’re going to love your voices no matter how silly they are!

Use lots of animation and a different voice for each character, and if you can, bring those recurring characters back once in a while. You’ll be surprised by what your child retains as you’re telling a story, and they’ll be delighted by return characters and longer storytelling journeys. 

Pull from your own stories

Consider the things that have happened in your own crazy interesting lifetime. Maybe it’s something from your own childhood, or maybe it’s a wild story that happened to a friend or relative. Either way, your little ones will be mind-blown that the adults they know were ever really children!


Embrace prompts

If you’re feeling drained and less than creative, don’t hesitate to reach for some storytelling prompts. 

A Google search will lead you to exciting prompts to help jazz up your nightly stories. They include adventures, quests, teachable lessons, and so much more. Here are just a few ideas we love from Story Tyke:

  • The pet hamster accidentally drinks some weird stuff and grows to become an evil fuzzball. Now you have to figure out how to return him to a hamster without getting eaten.
  • Kids travel through a forest playing a game but encounter an abandoned pirate ship and find treasures inside.
  • Someone jumps in their swimming pool on a normal summery day, but they are on the shore of a deserted island when they come up for air. They discover magical things on the island and have to figure out how to get back home.


Want more creative family bonding?

Columbia Art Center is home to a number of classes and workshops to nurture your family’s creativity and connection. Art is something we can all share to help release stress and spark joy. Plus, having an outlet for expression encourages even more creative inspiration (cough cough, like your epic bedtime story skills!). Learn more here.

For more family-friendly tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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