In 2013, School Library Journal asked families: How many parents read bedtime stories to their kids? According to the poll, about “two-thirds of parents don’t read to their kids every night” (Bayliss, 2013).
Bedtime stories were a huge part of my elementary years. I loved it when my parents would come and read me a story before I drifted off to sleep. Those times not only sparked my imagination, but gave me valuable face time with my parents.
The heart behind Reckless was to give parents, grandparents, guardians, and foster parents the opportunity to connect with their kids through a fun adventure, Bible stories, challenging devotionals on kid level, and discussion questions that can be used throughout the day to continue the conversation.
But maybe you’re thinking: I’m not a very good bedtime storyteller. Well, here are 5 tips on how to be a better bedtime storyteller.
1. Read the story or chapter ahead of time.
Before you take that picture book, chapter book, or story into your child’s bedroom, read it ahead of time. It sounds so simple, but if you know the general direction of where the story is heading, it will help you heaps in telling the story more fluidly. If there are words that you don’t recognize or names you don’t know how to pronounce, a quick Google search for a definition or pronunciation will have you reading more like a pro.
2. Use voices for different characters.
Everyone can make a silly voice or two. Or maybe you can bust out a fun accent for a central character in the story. If you can, mix it up for every character in the story. Speak in a squeaky voice for a mouse or a deep voice for a moose. Give a British accent to the Grandpa, or a southern one to that quirky talking bird.
If you are totally stuck and think: “I just can’t do any voices!” then take a minute to search for Amy Walker on YouTube. She has hordes of videos that will teach you how to speak in an accent in seven minutes or less!
3. Speed up — slightly! — at the exciting parts.
Since you already read the story ahead of time (right, right?), you’ll know when an exciting part might be coming in the story. Speed up your reading just a pinch — not too much, or your kids won’t understand what you’re saying! Putting a little extra speed to an adventurous moment will make a story come alive for your kids.
4. Let your kids interact with the story.
Don’t just close the last page, say “Good Night!”, and rush out the door. Take a couple minutes to ask your child some questions about the story: What was their favorite part? Who was their favorite character? What did the characters learn in the story? If your child was telling the story, what would have happened at the end?
Talking about the story together will help your child process what they’ve heard and help them to relate the story to their own life.
5. Keep reading stories to your children — even when they’re “too old.”
Even if your kids are getting into their upper years of Grade School, take time to continue reading stories together as a family. Even older children love a good story — it’s all about which ones you choose. Ask your kids what book they would like to read together every night and let them be the ones to pick it out at the bookstore or library.
Reading to your child even as they get older will be something they soon won’t forget. It might just spur their love of reading and yours as well.
If you’re looking for a fun book to read to your kids, check out Reckless on Amazon.com!