Thursday, March 26, 2015

Top 5 Bedtime Books Every Young Child Needs

Stories have always been a part of our bedtime routine, since even before Boo was born. I read to him every night for years, while rocking and nursing him, or while cuddling with him in his big boy bed. Eventually he started reading some of those stories to me, and now he reads himself for a half hour or so each night after I tuck him in. Some nights he'll be into a chapter book and get carried away, so I'll find him still reading an hour or more later. But it's difficult to be too angry with him for that.

Including stories as part of his routine from the beginning helped with establishing his sleep routine and signalling to him when it was time for bed. It also helped lay a solid foundation for his learning to read later on. As you read to your small child, follow along the words with your finger so they can see the letters that make the sounds and help them to make the connection between those printed symbols and the words they hear. As they get older you can encourage them to "read" familiar words like "cat" or "play." And if they memorise a story after hearing it over and over, you can encourage them to repeat it back to you while looking at the words on the pages - this will help them forge those connections between letters and sounds.

We're read masses of books over the years, but here are our top 5 bedtime specific stories. Ones that we enjoyed so much together and know that you will too! If you are looking to start a library for your little one, or as a gift for a friend, these would be a great place to start.

Good Night, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

Let's just get this one out of the way right at the start. Every child should have a copy of this classic on their book shelf. "Goodnight room, and goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon." Simple rhymes and silliness as a young boy avoids settling down to sleep. I bet your little one will start adding to the list of good nights once you close the cover!

The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton

Thank goodness Sandra Boynton wrote a bedtime book! I love everything she's ever done, and this is no exception. The animals go through their bedtime routine, brushing teeth and getting into their pajamas, and exercising. (Wait! What?) Boynton's signature fun rhymes will both entertain and lull your child to rest. The pace of the story naturally slows to the end, as the moon rises and the ocean waves "rock, and rock, and rock" the animals to sleep. This was a great story to read in the rocking chair! (Also check out her Pajama Time.)

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

I actually love this entire series. Awesome for the dino lovers, each book addresses a question of social skills or behaviour (playing with friends, eating their food, etc.) in an entertaining way. Do dinos jump on the bed? Do they mope and whine? No, of course they don't! A series of "bad" examples are presented, and in the end we learn the proper way to behave. Along the way, each dinosaur pictured is identified with their name written somewhere in the image. The text is rhymed and the illustrations entertaining. Boo loved this one, both learning the dino names and laughing at their antics. It ends with kisses and hugs goodnight, just as your night will.

If Animals Kissed Good Night, by Ann Whitford Paul

Pure poetry. This book is exquisitely illustrated and beautifully written. We learn all about how a series of animal parents and children - moms, dads, sons, daughters - would kiss goodnight, if indeed animals did kiss goodnight. A refrain of sorts runs through the book, exploring how sloth and her cub would kiss goodnight. Suffice it to say, it takes a long, slothful time, and the author keeps coming back to them to see how they are getting on. The writing flows beautifully in a lulling rhythm to ease your own little one to sleep. I particularly like that both moms and dads are represented here. And I would love to have framed prints of many of the illustrations. It's luscious!

I Love You, Little One, by Nancy Tafuri

I read this pretty much every night for months before I could get through it without choking up. A series of adorable baby animals ask, "Do you love me, Mama?" And each Mama answers in beautiful, lyrical prose just how much she does indeed love her little one, "forever, and ever and always." Each answer relates to the environment or habits of the animal, so you can create learning moments too if you wish. The last entry is a small child (carefully non-gendered), being tucked into bed. And Mama's answer gets me every time. This is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book, with a lovely, reassuring message for all children.

How about you? Do you have any favourite bedtime books I haven't mentioned here?

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but it does include affiliate links, and I will receive compensation from for any purchases made after clicking through.

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