Bedtime can be a daunting time in a household with young kids. “Read me a story” is something you’ll hear at the twilight hours and for some parents that means grabbing a storybook and get reading. Others like to tell a story that they make up. Either way you prefer to share a bedtime story is cool with us and beneficial to your child.

If reading straight from a book is your style, then how you read is important. As you read, the words of the story will take form. Read with expression, pausing for punctuations, raising and lowering your voice based on the action, and you speed up or slow down to indicate any tension in the text. This type of engagement while reading is picked up by your child and will help them as they move on to more advanced books. Take time out during the book to share thoughts, talk about the pictures in the book or the characters so that you gain insight in to what your child is thinking.

If going rogue and making up your own story is the way you handle bedtime story hour, that is great too. The fun part of making up your own story is that you can engage your child in building the story. You can ask them “what should happen next.” Make your child’s favorite stuffed animal or toy the star of the show and incorporate an activity from the day as part of the storyline. By getting them involved, using relevant items in the plot and asking questions will help them to develop their imagination.

Either way – bedtime stories with a book or made up, how you deliver the story is important.  Here are some helpful tips to help you deliver a riveting tale.

Get into Character: Bedtime stories should be told in a relaxed atmosphere. Turn off all electronics. Dim the lights and tell your tale in different voices.

Read it Over…and Over: If you’re reading a book to your child, it is important to read the same story more than once. This will help with their language development and memory. As you re-read a book a few times your child will absorb the story’s details, and they will become more familiar with the words and patterns of speech.

Make it fun: If you’re making up your bedtime story, make it fun! Bedtime story hour is not about teaching and testing your child’s reading skills. It’s a time to enjoy and engage them in the moment. Focus on the book, the child and engage them in the story by asking questions about what they think about the story, the characters, and how it relates to them.

The best part of story time with your child is to connect with them. This is your time together. Don’t look at it as a chore and don’t cringe when the book they want you to read is the one you’ve already read 50 times. Enjoy the moment because it won’t last forever.