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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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.


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.