Now that school is back in session getting back in the routine to go to bed at an earlier time is important. After homework, independent reading, scripture study and family prayer have all been completed, there’s not much time left for bedside reading. However, bedtime reading is as valuable as homework as it helps bond child and parent. Here are some great picture books about, and for, bedtime. All of these books are good for ages four through eight.
Curious George’s 5-Minute Stories, by Margret and H. A. Rey, is the perfect storybook to read just before bedtime. This is an appropriate book to read when there’s not much time left before sleep. There are thirteen quick stories in this delightful book that includes “Curious George Says Thank You”, “Curious George Visits the Library” and “Curious George Blasts Off”.
Clifford’s Bedtime Story Box, published by Scholastic, is a boxed set of separate books that includes six stories about this famous giant red dog. The set includes “Clifford the Big Red Dog”: teaching the value of being a good friend, “Clifford’s Family”: teaching respect, and “Clifford Goes to School”: teaching how to believe in yourself.
The Green Bath, by Margaret Mahy, and brilliantly painted with hues of greens and yellows throughout by Steven Kellogg, is a story that celebrates the greatness of imagination! When the neighbor boy’s dad brings home a cool-looking speedboat, Sammy is teased when his dad just brings home an old green bathtub. Soon after the tub is hooked up, Sammy’s mother announces it’s time for a bath before Grandmother comes for a visit. It’s clear from the onset that this is no ordinary tub. There are expressive faces on the front and the clawed feet enable this amazing tub to move. Before Sammy knows it, the tub carries Sammy out to sea where he encounters a sea serpent, mermaids and pirates. If you save this book to read before the nighttime ritual of taking a bath prior to bed, you’ll find anxious bath-goers to quickly settle down for this inventive, entertaining book! And, be sure to catch the beginning and last end-pages.
Owly & Wormy: Bright Lights and Starry Nights!, by Andy Runton, is an almost completely wordless book, with the exception of rebuses and images, which help the listener participate in the storyline. Owly can’t see the stars from his leafy tree-top home so he ventures out on a camping trip with wormy. Problems ensue when he gets lost, but through bravery and friendship he’s able to enjoy this nighttime adventure. The illustrations are mostly deep blues and blacks helping portray the dark of night.
Good Night, Sleep Tight, by Mem Fox, and delightfully painted by Judy Horacek, is made for sleep-time. Fox writes with a genius undertone for new readers. She inevitably uses the important ingredients to encourage readers along the way. These simple uses for reading include: simple rhyme and repetition. Skinny Doug is tending two youngsters who beg him to tell them a quick story. So he tells them short nursery rhymes. Horacek’s use of bright primary colors and simple lines add to the story.
Cow Can’t Sleep, by Ken Baker, and digitally illustrated by Steve Gray, is a hilarious tale that concerns a poor cow who can’t seem to find comfort in the hay barn. So she ventures out to find a nice feathery bed only to discover it’s really a flock of ducks. From there, she falls into a well as she looks for a drink of water and when she covers herself in warm blankets, she’s actually covered in sheep. This cumulative tale is clever and delightful – after all, who hasn’t had a difficult time trying to go to sleep?
Nighty-Night Cooper, by Laura Numeroff, and nicely painted by Lynn Munsinger, is another clever story that centers on sleeplessness. Young Cooper is a very small kangaroo who desires that his Mama sing him a bedtime song. So she sings her own version about a pig who sails on a boat to the tune of “Rock-a-Bye Baby”. Then he asks for a song about mice which she sings to the tune of “The Farmer and the Dell”. The ending finds them both settling down to sleep, but not before he tells her that he loves her. By singing these inventive rhymes, you’ll surely work the sleep magic!
When Mermaids Sleep, by Ann Bonwill, and illustrated with full-page paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, will surely convince all to go to sleep. Full-page spreads demonstrate to little ones that even characters in fairy tales sleep. Faeries sleep curled in blossoms, pirates sleep against gunwales of their ship, even baby unicorns will sleep on carpeted forest floors. A rhyming, lyrical tale will surely cast a sleepy-tight net on the listener as demonstrated by the title creature
The Dark, by Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by this year’s Caldecott winner, Jon Klassen, helps youngsters deal with being afraid of the dark while in bed. Young Laszo is certainly afraid. Every morning Laszlo says “Hi, dark” as he peers down the stairs. He hopes that saying he knows that it’s down there, it won’t come up and bother him in his bed. The remedy of overcoming anxieties is dealt with nicely in this book. The pages are filled with black, and the rest of the pictures are done in gouache and digitally.
I Dare You Not to Yawn, by Helene Boudreau, and illustrated by hand-drawing with ink and then colored digitally by Serge Bloch, is a clever, funny story about helping you not be sent to bed just with one yawn. The boy pictured here is attempting not to let his mom see or it’s off to bed for him. It begins with “Yawns are sneaky. They can creep up on you when you least expect them.” The boy looks at his cat who suddenly yawns. He’s trying hard not to yawn, which plays off the difficulty of not yawning when observing others yawning. The pictures and text make for a delightfully “yawning” tale of going to bed.