[This is the latest in an occasional series by Beth Melo, a Southborough mom who loves to read to her kids. In this installment, Beth shares recommendations for books that are a perfect choice for bedtime reading. This post was originally published on the Southborough Library website, and has been reposted here with permission. For more of Beth’s book recommendations, click here.]
Mommy’s ready to sleep. Why aren’t you?
It’s easy for bedtime to keep slipping later in the summer. The sun is out late and everyone is trying to make the most of summer vacation. Then back to school time hits and suddenly parents have trouble getting their kids to bed at a reasonable hour. With that in mind, I’m thinking about the books that are well suited for settling down young children into sweet dreams.
For children who like to employ delay tactics, these books offer Excuse Busters:
- Sleepyhead by Karma Wilson deals with the popular refrain among bed-avoiding children, “just one more” (book, hug, glass of water, etc.).
- Mo Willem’s Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late is another fun one that deals with delay tactics. Having your child emphatically refuse the pigeon’s popular and creative excuses makes it hard for them to try using them after. On the other hand, the child’s excited participation isn’t great for settling to sleep. So it may be best to use this only when there is time to follow with a sleepier book.
I know some children can be terrified of the dark or being alone. I don’t have experience with that and am not sure how much books help. My children were a little anxious about being alone in the dark at some stages. These books are good for children with mild bedtime anxieties.
- Night’s Nice by Barbara and Ed Emberly is a sweet book about happy things that night brings. It’s a nice book for any child that is nervous in the dark.
- Marc just couldn’t sleep by Gabriela Keselman is a cute story about nighttime fears. The boys fears and his mother’s attempts to alleviate them are increasingly ridiculous. Finally, the boy is simply too exhausted to be afraid.
- Wanda’s Monster by Eilleen Spinelli is a fun spin on the monster in the closet. Here, when Wanda’s parents fail to convince her that there is no monster in her closet, her grandmother confides the “truth”. There is a monster temporarily living in her closet. She convinces Wanda to feel sorry for the lonely monster forced to live in an uncomfortable closet. Out of compassion, Wanda befriends and helps her monster.
- Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt is a fun way to poke fun of fear of the dark. The Squirrel’s worst nightmares all seem to come true, until we learn that the fearsome shapes in the night are shadows of harmless things.
Another type of book I enjoy at bedtime is one that encourages us to reflect on the day and look forward to the next:
- Amy Schwartz looks at the lives of young toddlers in A Glorious Day and What James Likes Best.
- What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins is a detailed account of life in the day of a young school girl.
- Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb is a cute story about a bear recounting his day with his mother.
For easing children into a sleepy state, I like books that are a little repetitive. That doesn’t mean they are monotonous. Books that use refrains or ongoing themes have a rhythmic quality that is nice for settling down. Some books good for getting sleepy:
- Margaret Wise Brown has great ones for bedtime, especially for toddlers or beginning preschool. There’s obviously her famous Good Night Moon and The Runaway Bunny. But she was a prolific author with more than 30 other titles in the Southborough Library collection. In general, the stories aren’t exciting but her words have a calming repetitiveness. Some examples are The Noisy Book, The Quiet Noisy Book, The Diggers, Sheep Don’t Count Sheep, The Important Book, Little Donkey Close Your Eyes, and Two Little Trains.
- Boys who like automobiles should enjoy these goodnight books – Good Night Engines by Denise Dowling Mortensen and Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights by Janice Milusich. Both of these center around cars and trucks that are preparing to rest for the night. Good Night Engines is a quick read. Off Go Their Engines has more detail about what the vehicles did during the day.
- Tick-Tock, Drip-Drop! by Nicola Moon is an amusing story about a rabbit irritated by nighttime noises and his exasperated roommate who keeps getting up to fix the problems.
- When Papa Snores by Melinda Long is an amusing exaggeration of the noises snorers make.
- The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathman is a pretend memory of the time your child rescued a pack of adventurous babies as they made their way through the woods.
These bedtime stories are simply fun:
- Tiger Can’t Sleep by S.J. Fore is about a boy who can’t sleep because the tiger in his closet (friendly, not scary) is too restless and noisy. Using a goofy voice for the tiger helps get giggles out of my son.
- Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand has changed the bedtime routine in our house. When Mitchell is reluctant to head to bed, his father becomes the car to take him there. The fun is in seeing how Mitchell has almost total control of his car, even at the risk of crashing.
- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson is a classic. It’s a creative goodnight walk through the pictures that the young boy draws. It ends right where it should, with Harold drawing up his covers and going to sleep.
I hope these books help make bedtime reading fun and successful. As always, if you have any questions for me, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any additional suggestions for other parents, you can post a comment below.