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Telling Stories to Your Kids, Part Two
By: Odds Bodkin

In my first article, I spoke about the Five Imaginations and how, once you’ve become comfortable with them and learned how to use them, they can help you learn to tell stories to your kids at bedtime.

That’s all well and good, you say, but what do I tell stories about? I don’t have any ideas. I’m not a writer or a storyteller.

Maybe so. I’ll try to help you become a storyteller at the very least. Remember, these don’t have to be profound stories. They don’t have to be epics. Just the fact that you yourself are telling them to your child will make them glorious. As for ideas, here’s an easy way to find some. Try looking around your child’s room, right where you are, since bedtime is a great time to nurture the bond of imagination and joy with your child.

What do you see? What patterns are on the bedclothes? What toys are scattered on the floor? What would it be like if the bed magically floated up and became a magic bed--one that could take your child on adventures?

I’ll follow a sample train of imaginative thought using what I hope are reasonable examples of things in an American kid’s room, and offer a few directions to take.

First of all, use your child’s name as the protagonist of the story. At least try this out. Some children adore this approach, while others would rather have somebody else experience the thrills. Let’s assume for this example that your child, Anyone, who is four and a half years old, lights up when Mommy or Daddy begins the story like this:

"Once, on a dreamy night, just before bedtime, Anyone was in her bed, all comfy and ready to go to sleep. Just as she closed her eyes, though, she heard a tiny voice."

At this point, look around the room and choose which toy or image or stuffed bear or whatever you’d like to use for this story. This character will become "the guide" or the "magical helper" in your story (the classic fairytale works best if somewhere along the line, a magical helper appears). Let’s say you choose a stuffed bear for the guide, and the stuffed bear’s name is Clooney (or, ask your child to name the character; by asking questions of your child, you can bring her into the creative process and keep the story comfortable for her).

Back to the story.

The tiny voice was Clooney. Clooney had never said anything to Anyone before, but tonight was a magical night all right.

Clooney whispered: "Try the bed.’" (At this point your child might conceive a sudden wish to hold Clooney and move the toy along with the story you’re telling, or else you yourself might do it.)

"What do you mean, try the bed?" asked Anyone.

Clooney answered: "The button is under your pillow. It’s a soft button. You’ll have to feel around for it."

(At this point, expect your child’s hand to start searching around under the pillow.)

"That’s it!" said Clooney. "You found it!"

All at once, Anyone’s bed began to gently float up from the floor. Anyone crawled to the edge and looked down. Sure enough, she was floating.

"Use your pillow to steer," suggested Clooney. (Your child will probably hold the pillow like a steering wheel and turn it. Watch your child’s actions. If she steers to the right, follow that.)

Anyone’s bed began to turn to the right. Oops! It bumped gently into the wall.

Clooney said, "You’d better open the wall, if you want to go anywhere."

"How do I open the wall?" asked Anyone.

"Oh, that’s easy," replied Clooney. "Squeeze your pillow. There’s another soft button inside."

Anyone squeezed her pillow and all at once, just like a garage door, up lifted the wall of her room. Up went the dresser. Up went the closet. Up went the posters. And there, twinkling outside, Anyone saw the starry night. A warm breeze that smelled like roses blew in.

"Are you ready to go?" asked Clooney.

"Where are we going?" asked Anyone.

"Anywhere you’d like," answered Clooney.

(To direct the story at this point, ask your child where she’d like to go. If no answer is forthcoming, figure out where you’d like to go. Let’s say on tonight’s voyage we’re going to the beach).

"I want to go to the beach!" said Anyone.

"All right, " said Clooney. "Tilt your pillow forward, and off we’ll go!"

Anyone steered her magic bed right out through the open wall, into the stars and the rosy breeze. Trees and cars passed below. The bedclothes began to flutter.

"Not too fast," said Clooney. "Beds don’t come with seat belts."

Anyone tilted her pillow back just a little and they sailed along, high above the world. Up above, the moon shone.

(Perhaps at this point, your child might express a wish to go to the moon instead of the beach. If so, go to the moon. Abandon all notions of actual space travel, no air in space, all that reality, and let the bed fly swiftly to the moon. Remember, young children see the world in a simple, semi-magical manner, so just about anything they suggest is doable in a simple bedtime story.)

Who do Anyone and Clooney meet on the moon?

When do they fly back?

There are thousands of possible directions to take, as you can see. As a parent, you are the best "director" of any story’s contents, since you know your child.

In a children’s story, anything can come to life. Even the moon can smile and say hello if you like.

Once parents begin this process with their kids, certain characters often become favorites. They return, night after night, with fresh adventures. Often your child will want to hear the same story, over and over. If that’s the case, try to remember what you told her the night before.

If you can’t, the chances are pretty good that your child will, probably better than you.

Author Information:
Name: Odds Bodkin
The contents expressed in any article on are solely the opinion of author.

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