Telling bedtime stories can also be a daunting task if you’re not used to invent and tell stories freely.
The good thing is, with a couple of little tips and some guidance, you can learn this skill and train to tell engaging stories. You’ve got the very best audience a storyteller can wish for: your own kids.
Today I’ll share three easy tips for the perfect bedtime story, so here we go.
Structure Your Story
Every story has a certain structure and follows specific rules to engage the audience, at the very core a simple story needs three storypoints: a beginning, a middle and an end.
Add one more storypoint in the middle, like a surprise twist, something dangerous that the characters have to overcome or a turn of events that changes the direction of the story — with these storypoints you’re ready and well equipped to build a great adventure.
Beginning (where do we start?)
Middle (what happens in the story?)
Turning Point (something unexpected happens / a problem occurs)
End (how does the story end?)
This is the part most people struggle with: how do I come up with a story? There are a couple of things you can do:
Think of a character. Any character. Preferably someone or something that your kids really enjoy — a knight, a pirate, a fairy or even take your own kid.
Think of a setting — where does this character live? In a castle, a boat, the woods or at home?
What problem occurs? A dragon besieges the castle, a treasure map in a bottle is discovered, the animals got sick or a huge cave troll appears in the garden and your kid decides to help him.
How can this problem be solved? The dragon was lonely and wanted to visit the people and not scare them, the treasure turns out to be a stranded person, the animals ate berries from a mysterious bush or your kid finds a new home for the cave troll.
These are just some really quick examples, but you get the idea. Frankly speaking: coming up with a story actually is the hardest part, but that’ also the part we’re going to help you out with!
Paint Pictures With Words
When you have the basic structure and the most important storypoints, it’s time to tell them in an engaging way that creates suspense and makes the children really care.
So it’s time to tell your kids what happens — but try to shake it up! Nothing just happens, it all has to be experienced.
When a character enters a building — what does it look like? Is it a big hall where you can barely see to the end or a tiny cave? Is it cold or warm, do you smell something? What can you hear? How does this character talk? Is he speaking very loud all the time or really quietly? Does he have an accent or mixes up some words?
Really focus on the details and let your kids join in — what do they hear? What do they see? What do they think happens next?
The great thing is that kids have crazy imagination skills and will be there to help you out, so explore the story together with them.
The most important part of bedtime stories is to have a great time with your kids. Remember how often you made a fool out of yourself and actually enjoyed it? Don’t hesitate to make mistakes, mix up some storypoints or forget what happens next — you’re not telling a story in a room full of people — these are your kids and they will help you out and share a laugh with you.
Be prepared to derail from the structure or a new character appears out of thin air because your children just thought of that — that’s the fun part of bedtime stories.
You’re not only watching or reading something together, you’re making it up along the way.
Enjoy your mistakes and embrace the unpredictability — you’ll never forget the great time you had together!