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Bedtime stories, now more than ever



Some helpful hints for telling captivating, bonding stories

Some helpful hints for telling captivating, bonding stories


When our twenty-two-year-old son was tiny – babyhood through about fourth grade – his mother and I shared stories with him every night (and often during the day). She and I traded off, taking full advantage of a household featuring two present parents, something neither she nor I had as children. Among many other books, she read him the entire Harry Potter series; I read him several less well-known series and quite a few standalone tales. I also made up stories, often enlisting his help for the details. One of those stories I actually eventually turned into a book.

Even though I already knew it, it’s nice to know that, according to Paul L. Underwood at the New York Timeswe did good. As our recently college-graduate filmmaker son is home during the pandemic, in the same house in which we introduced the magic and power of storytelling, I feel grateful we established deep, unshakable bonds via this timeless practice. As much in the world seems uncertain, I take sustenance from that knowledge.

READ MORE: Create a bedtime routine for your child

If any young parent ever asks me for advice, I rarely feel as confident suggesting something as I do regarding the sharing of bedtime stories. With those, you can’t go wrong. Apparently, science backs me up.

Underwood’s article offers helpful storytelling suggestions, culled from experts and professional storytellers. Although he stresses their extreme importance, he focuses not on books, but on oral storytelling. According to the article: “Storytelling and reading work best in tandem to help children develop language and story comprehension, just as you want your child eating a balanced meal.”

Regarding storytelling, first and foremost are the three P’s: pitch, pacing, and pausing. Varying the sound of the voice, speeding up, slowing down, and taking time to insert breaks in the action. What becomes clear is how much children will innately fill in details when given an opportunity. Underwood suggests Aesop’s fables, or even a story from your own childhood, because apparently, it’s normal for children to have no concept that their parents were once children.

Here’s to the telling of bedtime stories, no matter what the world is doing outside.



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