Telling a bedtime story is not as difficult as it first seems. Adult expectations of a story about a toy, or an insect, or even an inanimate object far outweigh those of a child whose imagination can support even the flimsiest of themes. The key is to relate it back to the child.
The best stories are based around those toys that sit regularly on the bed, occasionally get dragged to the car, and often are the special guests at picnics on the grass. They are the ones with the missing eye, chocolate-stained belly button, and dirty feet. But they are also the really loved ones and always have a name.
Start with setting the scene: it could be your child's bedroom, a hiding spot, a favourite place they like to visit, a shop, a restaurant, theme park, or major attraction. Alternatively, it could be on board a plane, a boat, a train, or in a car, if that's somewhere your child enjoys being.
Then apply to the toy or toys' lives, something special your child likes to do. Make it out to be a secret - that the toys don't want any children to find out they are toys that can come to life. It could be an activity such as painting or reading a book, or it could be an outing such going on a picnic, to a restaurant, or shopping. The picnic story though, does tend to have a lot of success as it's very flexible.
Finally, end the story with the toys being interrupted by your child or children and having to pretend to go back to their normal selves - quiet stuffed animals, soft toys, or figurines. Commenting on the mess or trail left behind, such as "Mummy couldn't understand how an apple and a chunk of bread ended up under the desk" and following it with, "but they toys did and smiled secretly to themselves!" will give it a more realistic feel.
It is important to convey the mystery of the whole situation - and if you do it enthusiastically, you will witness the most beautiful expression of wonder on your child's face.
The best part of this story is that if told well the first time, it will be requested again and again, so it becomes less a case of "making it up" than of actually remembering what you said the day, week, or month before. And, like most bedtime stories, it doesn't have to be very long either.
Just as in Toy Story the movie, you can make your child's toys come to life too - and provide them with a truly unique toy story before bed.