Bedtime Books for Kids


As the mother of a 3 year old boy who naps from 6-7:30pm and goes to bed around 11pm on a regular basis (please…someone tell me what I did to deserve this!?), bedtime is obviously a hot topic in my home. I was thrilled when Susan sent over her latest children’s book installment with the theme of ‘sleep’. I think I will be buying all of these books! Hopefully they will encourage my little guy to get some Zzzzzzzzs, so I can get some too…. Here are Susan’s latest recommendations:

For a parent, every extra second of sleep is vital. So it’s hard for me to remember my children’s point of view on the matter of bedtimes. While I’m longing for my cool, soft, wonderful pillow, their thoughts go more like this:

“I don’t care if it’s dark. That’s no reason for the day to stop! Why do I have to lie in my boring room? We could go to the park. I know you don’t really need to make those phone calls. Come on, I promise I won’t be grumpy. I promise! Wahhhhh!”

It’s been a while since Goodnight Moon has been able to work its magic for my family. A book about sleep, ironically, now has to be entertaining, too.

At least these books give my kids something to think about – quietly – after the lights go out.

Russell the Sheep, by Rob Scotton. Russell tries to find a way to fall asleep, from moving into different beds to counting stars and – you guessed it – sheep! The illustrations manage the rare feat of being both funny and beautiful. Older kids and parents will catch the more subtle humor, such as a sheep knitting a scarf from the sheep next to him. Younger children will understand the broader visual jokes, such as “That sheep is in his underwear!”

Topsy-Turvy Bedtime, by Joan Levine and Tony Auth. Even though the heroine’s name is hard to pronounce, my kids immediately understood this story – Arathusela gets to put her parents to bed for a change. Watching her cope with their whining and delaying tactics offer a great chance to laugh about bedtime routines. The end of the book, when Arathusela cuddles up with her parents, is cute without being too cloying.

No Nap, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Susan Meddaugh. A little girl won’t go down for her nap. The father (instead of the mother, which is a nice change) tries everything to get her to sleep, from loading her bed up with toys to lying down next to her. But guess who goes to sleep instead . . . .

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood and Don Wood. Published in 1984 (an antique!), this book follows the naptime adventures of a grandmother, a child, a dog, a cat, a mouse, and a flea. A biting flea! The drama comes from the subtle changes to the bedroom as everybody piles onto the bed. Kids can watch the flea move closer and see the sleepy blue of a rainy day brighten with yellow sunshine. At the end, everyone is awake and ridiculously happy.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

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