Like most people, I suppose, I’m a little ambivalent about New Year’s resolutions.
I like the idea of starting fresh, re-focusing on my goals, shedding a few pounds off the old dad bod, etc. But I also know that feeling of discouragement I get when I inevitably set the bar too high and fall flat on my face into the February fizzle.
And while nothing’s really changed about my stance toward New Year’s resolutions generally in 2019, the excitement and enthusiasm I feel for A Thousand & One Goodnights got me thinking about how I’d like to approach bedtime stories this year.
Over the Christmas break I came up with 5 New Year’s resolutions for bedtime stories specifically.
1. Focus on meta-stories.
This year I really want to focus on asking my kids more about their interpretations of the stories we’re reading.
It’s easy to talk about what’s literally happening in a story, but I’m always surprised when I discover what my daughter is thinking about parts of the story that are less explicit.
For example, sometimes I’ll ask her what she thinks a certain character is feeling or thinking, and her responses are fascinating (okay, and sometimes totally boring or nonsensical).
2. Visit the library more often.
We have a great little library a few minutes away from our house and I would really like to make it a point to visit more often.
As a kid, I spent a lot of unstructured time in libraries which I suspect, somehow, lead to a pretty positive relationship with books and literature and stories. I’d love for my daughters to—in their own way—get to experience libraries as well.
It’s one thing to read a book or listen to stories, but there’s something pretty special about being literally surrounded by them.
Also, buying every interesting children’s book I come across gets prohibitively expensive, even if we go the used route.
3. Get more involved in other bedtime story communities.
My favorite part of launching A Thousand & One Goodnights was to hear about everybody’s stories about their own favorite books and bedtime stories or the ones they’re enjoying with their own kids.
And while this whole project is an attempt to build more community around our shared experience of bedtime stories, I’d like to be more proactive about seeking out other communities and people as well and sharing stories.
Maybe it means looking for other websites or communities online or in social media, or maybe it’s as simple as emailing friends and family directly about their favorite children’s book growing up.
I don’t know how this is going to unfold exactly, but I do know that bedtimes stories are, almost by definition, a team sport, and I’d like to be more active in that aspect of them.
4. Get more creative with my textless books.
And while I’ve definitely taken advantage of this fact to get through a book and onto bedtime a little faster than usual after a long day, these narratively open-ended books are also a real opportunity for some creative bedtime story experiences.
For example, I had the idea that I should try and create wildly different narratives for the same story each time we read it. And then start to encourage my daughters to try the same thing.
As Ben and I talked about in our podcast episode about Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, one of the most valuable lessons a child can learn about books and stories is that they don’t have to be handled like fine china. You can—both literally and narratively—tear them up, play around with them, look at them from different angles and perspectives, etc. And I think these textless books provide a unique opportunity for that.
5. Experiment more with co-reading
Sometimes my daughter will stop me mid-story and ask/command my wife to take over.
As an adult reader, this usually feels frustrating because it breaks the flow. BUT… It could also be a neat way to play around with how we read our bedtime stories.
One direction to take this that we’ve done a little bit already is for all of us to assume reading duties for a different character in the book (this seems to work well for Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood for some reason).
So we can continue doing that, but I’d also like to think of new ways to bring more than one reader into a single book. Stay tuned…
How about you?
What about you, dear reader? Any ideas for New Year’s bedtime stories resolutions? Let us all know in the comments below!