“Bedtime Teaching,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 70–71
Everyone loves a story. Chances are, if you sit on the edge of a child’s bed or pull up a chair outside the bedroom door and begin with “Once upon a time … ,” you’ll have their immediate attention. Many kinds of stories can be told as you settle children for the night.
Family stories: Tell about your own childhood and what you learned while growing up. Share stories of ancestors recorded in family histories and journals.
Fun stories: At our house Daddy has a favorite story he makes up about a Frisbee. He adds a new adventure each time he tells it. Mommy has a fun story she made up about a boy named Arthur and his mishaps with bubble gum. The story always includes a place where children can choose the names of Arthur’s friends who get gum balls.
Inspirational stories: Retell stories from sacrament meeting, clarifying and simplifying when necessary. Listen during Sunday School, priesthood, or Relief Society meetings for stories that can be simplified and then shared with your children. Conference talks and Church magazines are also wonderful sources of stories that build faith and remind us that our Father in Heaven loves and is mindful of His children.
Scripture stories: Tell stories from the standard works. Children love to hear about Noah and the ark or Daniel in the lions’ den. Don’t leave the telling of such stories only to videocassettes or picture books. Let your children hear them from you, along with a simple testimony.
Situational stories: Children who don’t sit still long enough to listen to a lesson will often become engrossed in a story. Think of a difficult situation your child may be encountering. Then create a character with a different name who must face a similar problem. Ask the child, “What should Jimmy do?” Discuss various options and tell what happens to Jimmy when he makes different choices.
When telling stories, be sure to emphasize whether they are truth or fiction. Children trust what you say and believe what you tell them, so always be completely honest with them. Then, when it’s time to turn out the light, you might follow your stories with a quiet lullaby, hymn, or Primary song. Children will feel your love as you quietly teach them at bedtime.—Marlene Ellingson, Southern Estates Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball Stake