How to Memorize Children’s Stories for bedtime storytelling
We’ve all (well at least if you’re a parent I hope you have) read stories to our children before bedtime.
While these quiet moments with our kids are a great way to spend some quiet time together, sometimes the mad dash to find a storybook can take longer than reading the story!
While nothing will replace reading books to children, memorizing stories is a great way to put some spontaneous fun into their bedtime routine.
In addition, having a cache of stories in your memory is a great way to pass the time during long car trips, while stuck in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or any other place or situation which can be boring for young children.
Here, we’ll give you some tips and tricks to memorize stories and be able to recall them at a moment’s notice.
In addition, we’ll give you some ideas for books full of short and easy-to-remember tales that will delight children of all ages.
Some stories, such as those which contain rhymes or other lyrically written lines, can only be properly related word for word.
If you forget or leave out a line, the rhythm of the story is off, and a part of its magic is lost.
Thankfully, there’s a simple way to memorize stories such as these with a minimum of effort.
Start by choosing a single story to memorize.
Ideally it should be relatively short.
Starting small is always a better idea, since your mind won’t be overwhelmed.
Once you’ve chosen your story, simply read it through a few times.
Given the short length of most children’s’ stories, this shouldn’t take very long.
Now the real work begins.
Take the story line by line, just as it is written.
- Read each line to yourself.
- Now read it out loud.
- Last, shut your eyes and recite the line from memory.
These three steps are all you need to memorize stories!
It is this technique that I used to memorise my personal favourite book of poety ever: Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts. My Daughter and I love to recite Stingaling together and play tickle as the scorpion tries to make a sudden jump and sting her hard upon the rump.
Ahh so much fun!
Learning rhyming stories and poetry can be made easier because the rhyming words can help you keep going an remember the next line.
Beware though, get the wrong word and while it may rhyme, you may find yourself adrift and unable to work out what comes next. Something that I suffer from when trying to remember “The Anteater” from the same book.
While it takes a bit of time and effort, you’ll be amazed at just how easily this technique allows you to memorize children’s’ stories to delight your kids at bedtime or anytime!
Using the pictures to help you memorize the story
For stories that don’t rely so much on word-for-word rhyming, a much simpler method of memorization can be used.
In school, you may have been taught that picturing the things you’re trying to learn is a great memorization tool.
This principle is still true, and it’s even easier than you remember since most children’s’ books are full of pictures!
Our brains usually recall pictures and images much more easily than words, which is why this method is a time-honored technique for memorizing all types of information.
To memorize stories using this method, simply choose a book with a lot of pictures.
On each page, read the lines, and then look at the picture.
Find a way to connect the picture with the words, if there isn’t an obvious way.
In many cases, the picture on a certain page already corresponds with the words, so half the work is done for you!
Many people memorize children’s’ stories this way, since it’s a technique they’ve used before.
Its’ also one of the most effective techniques for memorizing just about anything, from stories to peoples’ names!
Once you’ve memorized a story in this manner, you’ll be able to recite the story simply by picturing the illustrations in your mind.
You may not remember every word, but for most stories, that’s perfectly fine.
Read yourself a bedtime story
You want to be able to recite stories for your children at bedtime, not yourself.
However, science shows that we remember things more quickly and accurately when we review them just before sleeping.
Since most children’s’ stories are so short, it’s easy to slip one or two into your bedtime routine.
There’s no intentional memorization required for this method. It works best with very simple books and stories, since you’re not using any devices or techniques.
Simply read the story before you go to bed. Read it a few times, if you like.
Doing this for about a week, reading each night, will allow the story to sink into your subconscious because it will be one of the last things your mind focused on while you were awake.
Let your brain relax to help you remember the lines
Relaxation by itself is not a memorization technique, but it will help any recall of the story.
If you stress out over not recalling a story word-for-word, your brain becomes nervous.
When your brain is stressed, it has trouble recalling even simple things (where are my car keys?).
On the other hand, when your mind is fully relaxed, you may surprise yourself by remembering tiny details you thought you’d forgotten.
Before you attempt any memorization technique, ensure that your environment is as peaceful as possible.
This means turning off your mobile, televisions and computers.
It also means finding time while the kids are at school or already asleep.
Once you can fully relax and focus on what you’re trying to memorize, your mind will absorb the information much more readily and recall it more quickly.
Make a commitment to yourself and to your kids to do this and make their story time amazing.
Picture yourself in the story
We’ve already talked about using visualization. However, if you’re still having trouble remembering a certain story, try to put yourself in the story.
Memorizing children’s’ stories is all about having fun and relating a captivating tale, so have fun with it!
Picture yourself as the princess, decked out in a ball gown and tiara, descending the castle steps to meet your prince.
See yourself wearing a heavy suit of armor, wielding a sword against the scaly, fire-breathing dragon.
The more outrageous the visual, the more it will stick in your head, and the easier memorizing stories will become!
Where to Start?
Since the easiest stories to remember are the simplest and those with the most visual interest, start with some colorful classics.
Little Golden Books contain all the fairy tales you heard as a child, accompanied by bright and colorful pictures to entertain your kids and help you commit the stories to memory.
If you want to start a mental library, consider Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or Fairy Tales (Illustrated) by Hans Christian Andersen. These are timeless stories, but be aware that some of the original fairy tales are a bit violent for small children.
Read them through and decide for yourself whether your child is ready for these stories.
Regardless of which method or which stories you use, remember to have fun!
Storytelling is a timeless way to bond with your kids.
Being able to recite stories from memory will quickly turn you into the fabled family storyteller, able to captivate and enchant children with tales of magic and happy endings…what could be better?