I remember their voices most of all. And the way they read to me. The feeling of the covers over a littler me. The soft glow of light as the pages turned. Storytelling has always been part of my life and the holidays were the star on top of the tree when it came to stories. My parents always read to me. They helped me learn to believe in worlds and characters that only existed in my mind.
Parents have used nightly stories over the generations as teaching methods, preventative warnings, entertainment, and downright PLEASEGOTOSLEEPIHAVESOMUCHCLEANINGANDWORKTODO rituals. Simple rock drawings became puppets became scrolls became books and so on. As these methods evolved, so did our imaginations. Every storyline and character grew in their potential. Interactive books, like the one Target just put out free for the holidays, gave us inspiration for where stories could go and take us. These tales have woven themselves into our own narratives. They’ve become traditions.
Now, as the father of two boys of my own, I read to them every night. The stories are diverse, and sometimes we go off-script into improvised worlds that would never have been written. With two boys, fart sounds seem to be much more prevalent than ever. But the underlying goal is to make stories a part of theirs, especially during the holidays, so they can make magic for their kids. In fact, sometimes I have my 6- and 4-year-old alternately “read” to me. Heck, if they could tuck me in, I’d really appreciate it. I’m sleepy.
I read to them all the time. Wintery words, hearth-light whispers in a variety of ways. It’s not just books or spoken words anymore. It can be screens with simple interactive drawings that persuade them to extend the plot, or apps that let you control the character’s destiny. Target, for example, just put out a really fun, free, epic winter adventure voiced by Neil Patrick Harris. The coolest part is you can have it read to you, or you can read it yourself. With interactive touchscreen experiences and really funny animations, the storybook lets you scale up the experience no matter how old you are, which as an overgrown, overenthusiastic boy myself is a real treat.
One year over Christmas break, we traveled to my grandparents house in upstate New York. We arrived and the whole place was overwhelmed with white powder. Growing up on the West coast, snow was a total novelty so my eyes grew large at the possibilities. Would Santa be able to visit us that night? Were his reindeer going to be cold? Our annual tradition of reading stories together had set my mind on fire with ‘what if’ questions. We went to bed only to be awoken a few hours later. My mother roused us with the news that something was happening. We ran from the bedroom to the living room to see presents under the tree with the sounds of hoofsteps on the roof. Ash was falling from within the chimney. The magic, the tale was made real. This was only made possible by all those late nights talking about magic and mythology.
These kinds of stories develop my kids’ love of the holidays and all sorts of creative possibilities. Interactive books provide fertile soil, too. So, read on, parents. Read often. Read out loud. Act it out. Or let a professional read to you. And watch what happens to real life when a fictional life takes root in your kids’ minds.
Go check out our partner in crime,Target, and their free storybook today with your kids, relatives or pets. They’ll enjoy it. Even the licorice sea monster seems like a great guy in this tale.
Happy Holidays, adventurers! Go explore the story inside you.