Benefits of a Bedtime Story
A bedtime story gives your child something to look forward to at night. It can also be a part of the time your child needs to relax and wind down (as suggested in a previous blog). However, there are other benefits to telling abedtime story.
Make sure your child has had that last drink of water, used the restroom, and is tucked in and comfortable before you begin the story. Lower the lights to create a restful atmosphere. Read to your child in a clear yet soft tone to help induce sleepiness.
The amount of time you spend reading at bedtime will vary, but a good rule of thumb is twenty minutes. It is best to stick with stories no more than six to twelve pages long. The younger the child, the shorter and less complicated the story should be.
Picking a Story
The first thing you have to consider when telling your child a bedtime story is that is has to have an age-appropriate plot. Also, keep in mind that some stories may be too scary for very young children. It is best to choose a story with a happy ending; you are trying to relax your child, not stress them out.
You can either make up your own stories or read children’s books. Whichever your choose, make the story interesting by giving the characters different made-up voices. Add sound effects where appropriate.
Making Up Your Own Story
If you are making up the story, let them contribute if they wish. Make the characters and situations familiar to the child. Use voices and sounds. Make sure you are descriptive, describing colors, sounds, and the emotions the characters are experiencing.
Your story could involve characters participating in activities the child enjoys, or give the characters personalities your child will recognize. Have your characters deal with age-appropriate real life situations; making decisions about right and wrong, suffering consequences, and overcoming problems can teach valuable life lessons.
Reading a Book
The choice of a book can be yours, or you can provide a few books from which your child may choose. You can also visit the library and let your child choose books that you can read together each night.
If you have a toddler, choose books with bright colors and large font. Once your child starts learning to read, use your finger to follow the words and show what you are reading. They may wish to help, especially if the book is their favorite, oft-repeated story.
You can ask your child’s teacher for suggested books to read; this also reinforces their school learning. When your child gets older, if they choose a longer book to read, break the reading up into one or two chapters each night. Eventually, they will be ready to read on their own.
At some point, your child will have a favorite book or story they want told or read repeatedly. Be patient. They will eventually get tired of hearing the same story. You can also suggest a new story every other night, to add some variety.
Part of a good bedtime routine is telling a bedtime story. A nightly bedtime story can be a fun and anticipated ritual and a special time of sharing. Whether you choose to read a book or create your own story, finish before your child falls asleep. If you your child drifting off to sleep, quickly end your story time.
Make nighttime story telling a regular routine and you will create a life-long reader.