What makes a perfect bedtime story?

Written By: Barnali Sarkar

What do kids love most in a story? And who can answer this question better than all of us? The best critics of course — Children Themselves!

In 2015, a survey conducted by Butlins in the UK revealed some startling facts about what kids find endearing in a story. The research involved 2,000 children and parents as reading stories, particularly bedtime stories can arguably be tagged as the most powerful and engaging family ritual! After all, one simply doesn’t read to kids but also Reads With Them.

August and September bagged the crown for being the most stressful months as one-fifth of the parents (i.e., 19%) said that ‘back to school’ is the hardest time of the year when it comes to getting children to get back to a routine after the carefree summer break and drift off to sleep. But among all the tried and tested tools for getting kids to fall asleep such as using sleep gadgets, the good old bedtime story won hands down as around 51% of parents relied on storytime to help their children nod off.

So, do parents find it easy to simply read a bedtime story and enjoy every little moment? According to the survey, it is quite a challenging experience for parents as well.

  • 1 in 10 parents think that their storytelling abilities are not up to the mark and want help
  • 1 in 20 parents worry that their child gets bored during storytime
  • 1 in 8 parents consider their child’s bedtime as the most stressful part of their day
  • Around 36% of parents suffer from guilt pangs if they don’t read to their children

And when the children were asked what they think makes a perfect bedtime story and what are their expectations from the storyteller, a completely new story emerged. The children put maximum emphasis on the narration of a story! Around 56% of children opined that the most entertaining story was one where a storyteller assumed different voices to represent each character while approximately 25% of children expected the story to be acted out for them. 

Next, 1,000 children participating in the survey were asked to co-write the ideal bedtime story. Surprisingly, fantasy, including elements of magic and friendship or adventure seemed to find favor with them over a mushy romance. The children enumerated the following ingredients for a perfect bedtime story:

  • Ideal Length: Approximately 8 minutes
  • Setting/Backdrop & Cast: Must include a mythical castle, and a dragon, a princess, a wizard, and a fairy replete with a magic wand
  • Must-Have Components: Build up to an anti-climax where the primary protagonist is in danger leading to the climax where he/she wins against all odds or defeats his/her nemesis, and the story ends on a happy note. Or moments that define friendship
  • What should the Primary Protagonist be Armed With: A magic wand, cellphone, lightsaber, Xbox, or Dr. Who’s classic Sonic Screwdriver.

Bedtime stories could be the perfect stress reliever and bring an end-of-day closure on a calm and relaxing note. I always let myself build the momentum by working on my intonation and changing the rhythm and timbre as a story progresses to hold the attention of little ones. As the subconscious mind continues to process the feelings and images presented in the stories, it enables children to let go of the day and face a new one with positive energy.


The repertoire of bedtime stories presented by StoryMoment leads to a more aware participation in the story. There is no hero or villain in our stories, just the challenges we all face dressed up as a fairy tale. Kids visualize the events in the story and ponder over the choices made by the characters in a calm yet thought-provoking story environment. Most importantly, it ignites their imagination and creativity and opens the doors to a world of acceptance and compassion to self and others. If read on a regular basis, it is like a practice.

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