The end of a busy day means rest, and (you hope) soundly sleeping grandchildren! Just like grandparents, though, grandchildren need time to unwind before they hit the sack properly. A bedtime story is your chance to brush away the excitement of the day, and to create an involving and relaxing atmosphere. It’s also one of the truly treasured times of the day, when grandparents and grandchildren can really share some quality time together.
You don’t have to make up your own bedtime stories of course. Plenty of grandkids have firm favourites already, classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, perfect gifts for grandchildren too. At some point, though, even the most obsessed grandson or granddaughter loses interest in his or her favourite tale, and wants something different…
Create the Right Atmosphere
Turn the lights down a little. This helps your grandson or granddaughter to start feeling comfortable and sleepy. It’ll also help you with the process of playacting and inventing, which you’re going to have to do to make your story believable and fun. If you can’t see your audience clearly, you won’t be put off. Plus, without so many visual distractions, your grandchild can more easily imagine the world you’re creating.
Get Your Grandchildren Involved
Some grandparents are young enough (or old enough!) to remember the hugely popular Choose Your Own Adventure books. These ingenious stories worked by letting the grandchild pick his or her own path through a tale.
When you’re telling your own bedtime stories, use the same approach. Start by asking your grandson or granddaughter what – or who – he or she would like to hear a story about. The more involved they are in the creative process, the more fun they’ll have.
As the story unfolds, you can keep their interest going by asking them what they think happens next. Use their input to take the story on the course they want it to run.
Keep It Simple
The best stories are the simplest ones. Keep yours centred on a single character, and give him or her something clear to do – even if it’s only to go into the kitchen and get a drink! Remember, your audience is made up of young grandchildren, for whom everyday household tasks still hold an air of mystery and adventure. Use familiar objects and places to personalise your story and you’ll hook them every time.
Think Like Your Grandchildren
No-one knows a grandson or granddaughter better than his or her grandma or granddad. Don’t worry about finding something interesting to talk about. What better central character for your story than your own grandchild – and what better way for him or her to star than by doing the things he or she already loves to do? The difference is, in the world of the story your grandson or granddaughter can fly, or breathe underwater, or do any of the cool stuff that grandkids love to pretend they can do.
The more you enjoy making up and telling bedtime stories, the more your grandchildren will enjoy it too. Just remember – for a sound night’s sleep, you don’t want a big climactic battle. Wind your story gently to an end, or make it into a serial.