I have fond memories of my parents and grandparents reading Christmas stories to me when I was a child. From gentle storybooks depicting the Nativity to ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’ by Clement C Moore, I loved them all. As I got older I enjoyed Dr Seuss’ ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ and especially ‘Yes, Viriginia, There is a Santa Claus’. Story time was also a big part of the holidays when my son was growing up, and he still remembers the stories we shared.
I was really sad to learn that a survey carried out by YouGov in the UK revealed that the amount of time families commit to reading stories over the holidays is lapsing. Only a tiny margin of the one thousand parents and grandparents with children under six surveyed read to their children during the festive season.
In response to this, Disney has created helpful tips and tricks via the Winnie the Pooh Storytelling Academy on how to put children at ease at bedtime, whether in their home or at a grandparents’ house this Christmas. The tips are offered by the Disney Winnie the Pooh Storytelling Academy Panel made up of celebrity mum and presenter, Zoe Ball, child psychologist Emma Kenny, and Disney’s Justine Finch.
I firmly believe story time is a wonderful way to create happy memories and strengthen family bonds. Here are some tips from the Panel on how to make it even more fun.
Storytelling during sleepovers at grandparents’ house
Maintain a familiar bedtime routine in order to put children at ease whilst away from their usual home comforts. A bedtime routine has always been about creating a safe, warm and enjoyable haven. Make sure that children are in their comfiest pajamas and understand that it’s wind-down time before going to bed.
Set the festive scene for story time and make it cosy and inviting, a toasty fire by the Christmas tree is guaranteed to set the Christmas mood just right!
Ask grandchildren to write their own story about their Christmas holidays with their grandparents which they can re-read when they return home.
Storytelling in the child’s home
Use the festive season to strengthen relationships with grandchildren. Having a regular time slot each day when you sit down together and share a story is a fantastic way of spending quality time.
When visiting their home over the holidays, make a conscious effort to fit in to the children’s bedtime routine and follow story time patterns to maintain consistency and put children at ease.
If children are shy it’s a good idea to get parents involved for the first few festive tales to put children at ease until story time with grandparents becomes second nature.
Inject a bit of fun and expression into the narrative; this is a great way to keep children engaged. Think about ways to incorporate expression into the stories you are reading, whether it is through funny voices for different characters, animated facial expressions like looking frightened or excited and include lots of gestures.
If you can’t be together over the holidays, try storytelling from afar
Embrace modern technology to bridge the geographical divide. If it is impossible to be with your family this Christmas, storytelling can still be done over the phone or through video messaging – stories can still be dramatised just as effectively on the phone and it’s a great novelty for any child to see their family on screen!
Storybook apps are also a great way to allow parents and grandparents to record their voice reading the seasonal story, enabling children to listen to them, even if they are in a different time zone and unable to come to the phone .
No matter where you are this Christmas, be sure to remember to include story time in the day’s routine, so this relaxing and enjoyable family time can become a wonderful part of your holiday traditions.
The Disney Winnie the Pooh Storytelling Academy is a valuable online resource with tips and tricks for anyone who feels they need a bit of help with story time, helping to make it more fun for adults and children alike.
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