Dada Blogs: How to Tell Star Wars Bedtime Stories

Today you get to hear from Mike (Dada to the kids) as he elaborates on the highly entertaining Star Wars bedtime stories he tells our kids every night!

star wars kids

One thing that Emma, Johnny, and Lily all have in common is that they love Star Wars—which is really fun for me, since I really love Star Wars too. The story has fascinated four generations of my family and has inspired hours and hours of drawing, Legos, and play in our house.

Like most parents, we have had some difficulty in getting our kids to go to bed. But, now they are doing much better, and we have a bit of a routine. After MaryAnne plays the guitar and sings to them, I’ve been telling them a bedtime story out in the hall between the two bedrooms. They aren’t content anymore with our collection of children’s stories; they want me to create stories on-demand, ideally with themselves as the main protagonists. I feel for those cartoonists who have to try to come up with a funny storyline every day for the newspaper. It is sometimes difficult to come up with fresh, interesting stories right on the spot. But, it is made so much easier with a little help from our Star Wars friends. Here’s my strategy:

  1. I spend a few minutes during the day, or right before the story, thinking about the things the kids are worried, anxious, or excited about (such as going to the dentist)—or some skill or attribute that they need to develop (like sharing, understanding what are choking hazards, cleaning up, taking care of younger siblings, or being brave). Then, I work it into the story.
  2. The story does not have to be complex  or rely on the various literary devices you find in Shakespeare or Dickens. To impress our 7, 5, and 3 year-olds, I just need to make it surprising, funny, and memorable. This is amazingly easy to do if you simply inject Yoda, Darth Vader, or Storm Troopers into ordinary situations. Lily likes the story where she was playing hide-and-go-seek, and hid under a picnic table only to find Yoda hiding from George Lucas. Emma likes the story where she shared a churro with Yoda at Costco. Johnny likes the one where he was drawing Yoda and AT-AT Walkers, and Emma and Lily jumped into his drawing (kind of like C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
  3. The most important rule when using Star Wars characters in bedtime stories is that they are not bad guys. You can use whatever character you want, even Darth Vader or the Emperor known for hideous atrocities, but they cannot be evil. They can make bad choices (like not cleaning up their mess or being grumpy), but they can’t be scary. Otherwise, the kids won’t sleep.
  4. Well, “no bad guys” is probably the only rule. There is quite a bit of leeway otherwise. It’s just fine for Padme and Vader to take their kids Leia and Luke to Disneyland. It’s okay for Jango Fett to go Trick-or-Treating with Luke Skywalker—though, Johnny suggested that I probably meant Boba Fett.
  5. Bonus points are obtained for speaking like the characters. I found, in high school during the re-release of Star Wars, that I can do a pretty good Yoda voice, not too far off from that of Frank Oz. It takes a little practice to rearrange word orderings to make a convincing Yoda, but it is not hard. My vocal skills have not really expanded beyond Yoda. I’m trying to work on my C-3PO and Chewbacca—on my own in the car on the way to work, since I don’t think it’s at a point where I’m comfortable enough to test it on my kids yet.
  6. Feel free to add characters as necessary. The kids really enjoyed the invention of Yoda’s wife Yoma, and their four kids: Yoemma, Yojohn, Yolily, and Yoanna. (Of course, the Jedi Order prohibits marriage, but the rules can be bent for bedtime stories.)
  7. Kids like recurring themes. So, a few things happen often in these stories. Baby Anna spits up (for example, on a Storm Trooper when he picks her up). Baby Anna says “Ga ga goo goo” in response to a serious question from Darth Vader or the like. That always makes the kids crack up.
  8. All stories end with the kids going to sleep in their beds. I often get a little bit absorbed in the story, and go on and on, but it is pretty easy to wrap it up with a run-on sentence like “the three kids decided to return home from the Dagobah system because it was getting late, and so they jumped in the Millennium Falcon, zoomed back to Earth, crawled into their beds, and went to sleep.” At the end, Lily adds, “just like us.”

After I started telling my kids these stories, MaryAnne’s sister pointed me to Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown. It isn’t a story book, but it’s a collection of absolutely hilarious comics, and the kids enjoyed it just as much as me. The follow on story, Vader’s Little Princess is available on pre-order from Amazon and will be coming out on April 23.

baby yoda drawing 6yo

 

Are there Star Wars fans in your house?

Comments

  1. Aubrey @ Montessori Mischief says

    We aren’t SW fanatics, but my husband does tell original bedtime stories…sometimes IP to three a night! I admire it so much, and I think it is hugely beneficial for the kids!

  2. Gramma says

    How wonderful that the grandkiddies are the newest generation enjoying all things Star Wars! Love the creative ways of inventing stories that involve the family members interacting with the Star Wars characters.

  3. says

    Mike, your kids are so lucky! I believe storytelling is fantastic for kids, and yet it tends to be neglected by parents. I have told made-up stories to 5-year-olds and met up with them again as 25-year-olds who reminded me of the adventure starring themselves. Those stories make powerful memories and lasting family connections too.

    I loved all your tips, but the one that resonated with me the most was Number 7. Running gags are pure gold in storytelling sessions – hilarious, but also comfortingly familiar, if that makes sense? I try to have certain phrases the kids anticipate and join in with – perhaps a spell that makes the carpet fly, or something a character says before he leaps into action. Goes down a treat!

  4. says

    My boys are, Princess not so much.

    I used to do a similar thing only the boys were knight and Princess was of course a Princess, and I told all sorts of brave adventures for the kids, rescuing pegasus, a gryphon, getting magical swords. It was a huge hit. I need to bring those stories back out now.

  5. says

    Awesome! We have a long running episodic story about a magic valley full of girls who mysteriously end up there and immediately become princesses. It started when Rebecca was 3 and is sort of still limping along occasionally. I’m not allowed to tell anything scary, and no traumatic emotional conflict, so I’ve gotten a bit bored, I’ve already introduced every mythological creature I can think of, and the princesses have built vacation castles, ropes courses and tree-houses in all the corners of the princess-dom. I think I will have to branch into smaller Bernstein Bears-esq problem-resolution stories, that sounds like a good idea to work in their issues, thanks!

  6. says

    I love this post! It’s not Star Wars and it’s not at bedtime but my husband does a similar type of story telling with our girls as main characters and incorporating favorite books and shows – they love it. I think it’s wonderful that you have passed your love of Star Wars on to your children and that Baby Anna spits up on storm troopers.

  7. says

    GREAT POST!
    WE ARE A STAR WARS LOVING FAMILY TOO!
    I have a few who may be over the top star war fans…we won’t mention names…like LUKE!
    But it has been fun…I laugh because Mark, gets to do the story telling too…he is going to love to read these tips!

  8. says

    I love these tips – Mike is an amazingly creative Dad. Even though we are fans of the original (or the only one, if you ask my husband!) trilogy, Anna hasn’t watched it yet. She read some of the easy reader books (I think), but she doesn’t seem particularly fascinated with this Universe or with the story line in general.

    • says

      Our kids have seen very small clips of both trilogies, but most of their knowledge comes from books, which Johnny and Emma both really enjoy. Lily is mostly interested in R2D2.

  9. says

    Love the pictures! I hadn’t thought of telling stories with my kids as lead characters. Will have to give it some thought! Great tips from Mike – I especially enjoyed hearing about Yoda’s family and injecting Yoda, Darth Vader, or Storm Troopers into ordinary situations. :)

  10. Y says

    So adorable!! I love the addition of Yoma and family. You both have such terrific and creative ways to enrich your kids’ daily lives. :)

    Ben does the best Chewbacca voice (RRRrrrrr), but I have a hunch trying to tell bedtime stories in Chewbacca won’t quite work out the same way… it’s probably a good thing Mike has the Yoda voice down.

    Love, Y&B

  11. Roxann C. says

    Thank you!!!!! What a perfect post for us! I am so ashamed every time one of my three children asks me to make up a bedtime story and I am unsuccessful. I have never heard a made up story in my life. Tragic! I have tried and failed miserably but now I have new hope! And could you have picked any better premise than Star Wars for teaching children life lessons? I think not! My kids are finally old enough to be interested in Star Wars and it has kind of taken over. You are so kind to share this super fun and helpful post. And God bless your wife for her guitar sharing as well. Your children are blessed. Great job and congratulations!

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