The Easiest Bedtime Story Ever

So last night I was trying to think of a way to help Jubilee (almost two years old now) chill out. See, bedtime has been a little rough this last week (ever since she started consistently climbing out of bed).

Last night I put Jubilee in bed and she immediately swung her leg up to climb out. I knew if I turned around to get a book, she'd be dangling from the rail in no time.

"Hey, did I ever tell you the story of Spot??!?" I don't remember if this was exactly how I started the story, but it was something like this. Including my best ever attention-all-preschoolers voice.  The voice worked so well, in fact, that Levi (age 4) popped his head in the room.

As I started telling the story of one of her favorite board books, I could see she was loving it. She knew this one. Levi came and settled himself down in the room to listen.

Shortest bedtime story ever. Easiest story ever! Do you know how many times I have read her favorite books to her? I've certainly lost count.

Retelling a favorite book was such a hit that I went on to tell several more. Levi counted and told me that I did six in all. (The number of stories he gets at night is important to him.) I honestly don't remember! I was just looking at the bookshelf and picking favorites that I knew would work. I had to reject favorite concept books (a counting book is a little less exciting without the items to count) but I still had a good handful. Here are the ones I remember retelling: Where's Spot by Eric Hill, Rocket Town by Bob Logan, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

I didn't tell the stories word-for-word, though I probably could have. Instead of aiming for accuracy, I was telling them quick and silly to distract Jubilee from her intention of climbing out of bed. I'm pretty sure my very hungry caterpillar ate some bananas, which is totally apocryphal.

Related: 5 Board Books that are Great for Groups also 6 Books to Give at Baby Showers

My storytelling was successful, and the baby-love soon settled down for the night. (After I kicked her brother out of the room, and sung a lot of favorite songs, and breathed calm breaths in hopes that she would be hypnotized by them). Let's not talk about how bedtime went tonight. Maybe I shoulda tried the same trick.

So, what do you think? Will you try this with your kids? Have you tried it already? Or maybe you've tried some other storytelling tricks? Leave a comment below.

Jacob says that he thinks this bedtime story hack would not have worked so well with Benjamin (age 6). I agree. He would have been very indignant and insisted on a REAL bedtime story. But for the preschool crowd? I highly recommend it!

Related: Benjamin helped me review Rocket Town when he was only three years old.

Also related: My e-book to help parents jump-start a storytelling habit with kids, Story Club, is undergoing another round of edits right now. So exciting! Visit the Story Club main page here.


  1. I did something like this recently with my daughter, who just turned five. Only in our case I told her the story of the Frozen movie (which she pretty much knows by heart). She's been asking for us to tell her stories sometimes lately, instead of reading, and I hit on Frozen one evening when I wasn't feeling very creative. Interestingly, my husband, who doesn't read nearly as much as I do, is MUCH better at making up stories.

    1. Funny! Reading and storytelling definitely use different skills though. :) I wonder how my 6-year old would react to a straight retelling of Frozen (or another movie).


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