Story time is the best time of the day. Whether we're snuggled up on the couch or cozy in our pjs before bed, reading stories with my little ones is one of my favorite things to do. Everyone has a favorite book they remember from their childhood, and every day, parents and kids are discovering new classics of their own. There are many fabulous children's books out there, some of which everyone knows about and others we would have never discovered had my son not simply pulled a random book off a library shelf. I created this blog to share some of these wonderful stories with you. Think of it as a year's worth of the best children's books around, since no day should be without a great story. In the end, I hope we'll all have discovered at least a few new titles that will have made their way onto our list of family favorites. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 168: Your own story

I have been thinking about writing this post for quite some time now, but wasn't sure whether it was really an appropriate one given the purpose of this blog.  The thing is, this isn't a review of an actual book... But it is a review of a story, and a very meaningful one, at that.

As you probably know, I began writing this blog to have a place to share some of our favorite children's books with friends, family, and anyone else out there who might be looking for fabulous stories to read with their kids.  My goal is to share a year's worth of books, since no day should be without a great story.  It was this last point that convinced me that it is perfectly legitimate to feature "Your own story" here on the blog.  We read lots of books in our house, and I have shared many of the ones we think are wonderful on here with all of you.  But the reality is, some of my children's favorite stories -- the ones they request night and night again -- are the ones my husband and I make up after we've turned off the light and are lying in bed next to them.  My mom and dad used to do the same for me, and I always wondered how they were able to make up such fun, silly stories off the top of their heads.  (My favorite was one about how my cat Harvey would go windsurfing.)  Now, of course, I know it's really not all that difficult, and I love seeing the look of anticipation and wonder on my children's faces as we tell them these stories.  The protagonists in our stories vary -- from our kids, to ourselves as kids, to our childhood pets -- and oftentimes, we simply make up new stories about our children's favorite literary characters.  I can't tell you how many Curious George and Thomas the Tank engine stories we've made up, but certainly enough to fill several anthologies.  Usually, my son will make up the title of the story he wants to hear, and then it's up to us to "write" the rest.  "This one is called... Curious George Goes to the Playground," or, "Thomas and the Fun Parade."  The only problem with doing this is that sometimes he gets so into the story, completing our sentences or saying what happens next (as he imagines it), that it doesn't actually help him fall asleep at all.  But that's okay.  There's tremendous value in encouraging our kids to use their imaginations, and modeling this kind of creativity for them is wonderful and important.

There are other types of stories you can tell, too.  My daughter likes to request ones about Buzz Lightyear and Woody or Wall-E.  These are especially great when we're tired and don't have the mental capacity to make up a brand new story, as we can just re-tell scenes from the movie.  Other times, we use our stories as a way to reinforce a lesson that our children learned that day or to help prepare them for something that is about to happen.  Or, if we really just want them to hurry up and fall asleep, we tell them a story that feels very calming, like about Curious George listening to all of the sounds of the night while he is falling asleep.

If you're feeling a little hesitant about making up stories, please don't.  It's really not as hard as you might think.  Base them on your own childhood experiences, or simply re-tell story lines from your child's favorite book or movie.  It's a great compromise when it's time to turn out the light but they really want one more story, too.  You don't have to be a Mo Willems or a Kevin Henkes or a Barbara Cooney to tell a great story.  The possibilities are endless, and all that really matters is that you and your child are snuggled up sharing some quality time together.


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