At 8 months old, Little Bean does not require too much creativity from her mama when it comes to bedtime reading. All I’m needed for is to lift the flaps of Hide and Seek Pig and she’s happy.
As she gets older though I’d really like to be able to make up and tell her my own stories for bedtime.
When I was little, a friend of our family always used to tell us kids the most wonderful made-up tales. Despite the age range between his three boys and my brother and I, he still managed to tell us tales that were mesmerising to all of us, no matter how old we were. He would do deep scary cackles for the villains, leave cliffhangers and finish most often with a satisfying ‘happily ever after’. His imagination was unbelievable and he could convince us of just about anything.
For instance, one Christmas Eve, even when we were at an age where we'd long figured out Santa Claus was merely an excuse for the dads to get an extra bit of whisky and mince pie, he took us outside and, pointing at the sky, showed us lights that could not have been mistaken for anything other than a sleigh pulled by reindeer. To this day, we (very much now grown-up kids) discuss this and wonder what that really was up ahead.
A few special people are just born with an incredible imagination and amazing gift for storytelling. I don’t think many people will beat this father’s storytelling abilities, but if you think you have it in you to come up with an unbeatable children’s tale, fabulous publisher Chicken House together with The Times is running a writing competition.
To get you started, here are some top tips from publisher Barry Cunningham.