What are Bedtime Story Scripts?

Well, I'm not real sure. Here's my best short answer to that question: L1 bedtime storyasking guides for little kids.

(I'm sure someone has written about this somewhere. There is probably an entire field of study devoted to exactly what I'm trying to articulate here. Someone fill me in if you know about it please.)

When my son turned 3, I started attempting oral storytelling at bedtime. Before that, his mom and I went in and read him a book or two and sang him a song and that was that. But I knew that oral stories, without the visuals that books provide, would go a long way in building his imagination and language. The problem: I didn't really know many stories. And when I tried to tell him a story that I knew from my childhood reading, it just didn't flow. I wasn't able to do it with confidence. He wasn't into it (because I wasn't really into it). So I started improvising.

After a book or two, we'd turn out the lights and I'd start telling a story. It always started with the same line, "Once upon a time there was a ______." TPRS teachers get this. The buy-in is instant. It only took a couple nights of this before he started asking for a story.

For the first several weeks, the _____ was a "boy". And it was almost always one of his friends. I didn't plan these out ahead of time, but my training in improvisational storyasking as a world language teacher came to the rescue. I literally made the storyline up on the spot most nights. And when I look back, I realized how much more confidently and relaxed I may have been able to ask the story if I had had a rough script beforehand.

Of course, this brings up the central caveat of planning... sedation of spontaneaty. But, when we're telling stories to our kids right before bedtime, I think they are comforted by structure in the story. I think they want to believe that we know where the story is going. And at the same time, the engagement is higher where there is ownership in the story -- when it is co-created.

I know it wasn't easy for me. (And I wonder... If it wasn't easy for me, a school teacher who tries to engage over a hundred kids a day with stories, who IS it easy for?!). Storytime was really something mysterious for me; something seemingly unattainable. And I nearly let it slip by. Perhaps it was a lack of stories inherited by me from my parents. Or maybe I didn't start early enough with my son. I don't really know.

Although I leave Eben's room most nights after these storyasking sessions ready to fall asleep, I resist the temptation (cue my sleepy parent sad song) and write the good ones down before I forget. Now that Eben is almost five, however, he can usually refresh my memory about last night's story.

If you're not comfortable with bedtime stories as I wasn't, I think these scripts will help ease the learning curve, or the confusion, or the stress, or whatever may be the block. Or if this isn't the case, they might just give you some fresh ideas to keep doing what you're already doing.

My ultimate hope is that these scripts will make storytime more accessible for parents like me, and allow storytime to be participatory for the child. Stories can bring us and our children together in the shared creation of something great, something perhaps divine, albeit seemingly mundane. I welcome thoughts, questions and suggestions.


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