Dragons, fairies, princesses, wizards and Lightsabers make the perfect bedtime story

Research also found that a quarter of children expect the story to be acted out

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The Independent Culture

One thousand children have "co-written" the ideal story, with a friendship considered more important than a romantic relationship and the hero using a magic wand.

New research said the best possible nighttime story has traditional characters including princesses and dragons and is 8.6 minutes long.

According to 2,000 children and parents surveyed, a dragon, a princess, a wizard and a fairy, with a mythical castle as backdrop and a scary moment overcome by the hero, is the right combination for dropping off.

Also popular was the presence of a Light Saber, an Xbox or Dr Who's Sonic Screwdriver.

The research cannot quite account for the surrealist and globally best-selling stories of children's authors such as Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl. None feature princesses or magic and are often darkly humorous.

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The research, commissioned by Butlins, comes amid what is apparently the most stressful months for parents - August and September - when children will struggle to adjust to going back to school after the holidays.

The study also showed that 1 in 10 parents worry their storytelling abilities is not up to scratch - with one in 10 feeling inadequate and five per cent concerned their children are bored.

 

The research also found that a quarter of children expect the story to be acted out, according to the research.

Sound effects, different voices and a happy ending are essential, leading the research to provide parents with a step-by-step breakdown on how to "warm up" the story and build up towards its exciting moments.

Alex Charalambous, who put the formula together, said a steady bedtime routine was a good idea for after the holidays.

“As the research shows, the familiarity of a classic tale draws children in and the happy ending makes for a pleasant night’s sleep," he said.

He added that story boxes - a shoebox placed on its side and decorated with scenery and with finger puppets - allowed parents more freedom to experiment with the story.

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