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Friday, August 5, 2011

Bedtime stories...

One of my favorite moments of the day has always been reading stories aloud to my kids at bedtime.  I have fond memories of my parents reading to me before bed when I was a young girl, and I've gladly carried on that tradition in my own family. 

We read books together at other times of the day, too, but there's just something extra special about snuggling under the covers in your pajamas, and reading a book before drifting off to dreamland.  I will miss that togetherness at bedtime when my youngest, Ben, is old enough that he'd rather read to himself.  (Though Nick, now 12, typically reads to himself, he does occasionally join Benjamin and me at bedtime, if we're reading a book he's interested in.  At 15, Emmalie just reads her own books.)

Though we have now moved on to reading mostly chapter books at bedtime, our family has several picture books that we still get out and read sometimes.  Of course, bedtime stories can cover a wide range of subjects, depending on the interests of the readers.  Sometimes, though, it's fun to read bedtime stories that are about going to bed.

The following are some of our family's favorites. With the exception of Bear Snores On, which was published in 2002 when Emm was eight, these are books that I've read countless times to all three of my kiddos when they were little.  I think I could recite most of them by heart!

Goodnight Moon, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, 1947... This classic book has been loved by generations of children and parents.  I like the little bunny's ritual of saying goodnight to his surroundings, and my kids always found it fun to look for the tiny mouse on each of the colored illustrations.

Goodnight, Gorilla, written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann, 1996... Not surprisingly, this book has always been a particular favorite of Nick's (zookeeper-wannabe).  This book is so well-loved that I was unable to take a picture of the cover -- it no longer exists!  There are very few words in this book, but the illustrations themselves tell the hilarious story of a clever gorilla and a very tired zookeeper.  This book always puts a smile on my face!

Go to Bed, Fred, written by Alison Inches and illustrated by Lauren Attinello, 1996... When we bought this book, it came with its own Fred puppet, which we still have around here somewhere.  The book is fun all on its own, however -- our family has always enjoyed the silly little rhymes as Fred goes through his bedtime routine.

Just Go to Bed, written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer, 1983...  Every parent knows the trials that bedtime can bring, when kids would rather stay up and play instead of going to sleep.  In this funny book, Little Critter tries really hard to keep playing while his father tries just as hard to get him to bed.  My kids and I still laugh when we get near the end of the book and the frustrated father yells, "Just go to bed!"  Yep, been there, done that.

Just a Nap, also written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer, 1989... Not wanting to go to sleep must run in the family.  Though this book is about nap time, rather than bedtime, it is similar to Just Go to Bed.  (They are different enough that I believe both books are worth reading, however.)  In this amusing story, Little Critter's sister and their mother struggle to get through nap time -- something else our family is familiar with!

Ten, Nine, Eight, written and illustrated by Molly Bang, 1983... This book gently counts down to bedtime.  The colorful illustrations of the little girl and her daddy are fun to look at -- there is even a small mystery running through the pictures, with a missing shoe that shows up later, in an unexpected place.  I remember my kids being so excited to point it out whenever we turned to that page!

Time for Bed, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jane Dyer, 1993...  This is a quiet rhyming book with sweet illustrations of baby animals with their mothers, perfect for reading to little ones at bedtime.

Bear Snores On, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman, 2002... This book, with its fun pictures and text, always makes our family giggle.  Bear's friends seek shelter from a storm, ending up in his lair and partying while Bear sleeps through it all!

Hush, Hush, It's Sleepytime, written by Peggy Parish and illustrated by Mel Crawford, 1968... I remember my own parents reading this book to me!  This is another soft, gentle book that makes you want to whisper when reading it aloud.  Animals on a farm (and then, finally, the farmer's children) all settle down for the long night ahead. 

Bedtime for Frances, written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Garth Williams, 1960... This book is my very favorite one about bedtime. :)  My parents used to read this to me, as well, and I requested it often!  This story is for children who are old enough to sit through something a little longer than than the other books mentioned above. 

Frances the badger does not want to go to bed.  She's not very tired, and she keeps scaring herself with her vivid imagination, something that many kids can relate to -- I know I could!  The best part this book, in my opinion, is the look on Frances's father's face when she wakes him up to tell him her curtain is moving mysteriously.  I laugh out loud every time I see that expression!  I'm sure I've had that look on my own face a time or two.

Have you read any (or all?) of these books?  If so, what did you think of them?  What are your family's favorite bedtime stories?

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