Do you know the benefits and importance of reading before bed? Research shows that it improves quality of sleep. In fact, reading together is one of the single most important things you can do to set your child up for academic success. Narrowing down our five favorite bedtime books was not an easy task. There are so many fantastic, sleepy books that my daughters and I read again and again. Here are our favorite books for bedtime reading!
Move over, Goodnight Moon! Make room for these outstanding bedtime books. (But not too far over…we still love you!)
A Hunting We Will Go, by Steven Kellogg
My daughters and I could read this book for bedtime every. single. night. and not get tired of it. Steven Kellog is my absolute favorite illustrator, and his wild imagination jumps off the pages and inspires endless ideas for adventures. The story will take you down a silly path with two children and their imaginary friends as you all go marching off to bed. Who knew bedtime could be so fun?! To get the full impact of the story you have to sing it. So get those vocal chords ready and watch your children fill with delight when you begin belting “a hunting we will go!”
The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton can do no wrong. My toddler, Darcy, can’t get enough of all her wacky books, but this one is our favorite to read before bed. Darcy even has it memorized! Plus, if you’re short on time but still want to read a quick story, (do it!) this one only takes about 60 seconds to read. The rhyming, rhythm, and the illustrations of a rocking boat will have you both yawning in no time.
The Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman
This is a very special book because each time we read it, Darcy asks about the night she was born. She was born in the middle of the night while the full moon smiled at her through the hospital window. She loves to hear those details and make the connection between her life and the book. “Mama, that’s me!” (Pointing to the little baby) “And the moon is just like OUR moon!” This precious story will make your little ones feel special as you “whisper their name”, “count their toes” and tell them about the wonderful, magical night they were born.
Night Night, Farm, by Roger Priddy
This is the book Darcy chose to read last night, and she asked me to read it three times. Each page shows different farm animals as they prepare for bed, and then there is a flap that shows the animals snuggled up in the barn or coop, fast asleep. Darcy loves to lift each flap and see the animals’ before and after illustration. While your children are helping you turn the pages, you can make it more interactive by asking them to make the sound each animal makes, or by talking to them about where each animal sleeps. See, the chickens are asleep in their coop. What sound does a chicken make? BONUS! The stars on the last page glow in the dark.
Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? By Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth
All parents will relate to the challenge that Big Bear faces while trying to help Little Bear go to sleep. Little Bear can’t sleep because it’s too dark, so Big Bear brings him every lantern from the cupboard. Nothing will calm Little Bear’s fear of the dark, except for one thing. You and your babies will love to snuggle up to this cozy book to find out how Big Bear finally gets Little Bear to sleep. My mom used to read me this story as a little girl and it still warms my heart every time I read it to my little girls.
What bedtime books will your children remember when they grow up? And what memories will they associate with that book? When I think about my mom reading to me, I remember her soft pink robe, the smell of her favorite soap (that she still uses!) and feeling like there was nowhere else in the world I’d rather be than snuggled up with my mom and siblings, reading a story. I also remember always saying, “one more story, mom?” Reading with your kids before bed makes them feel safe, ignites their imagination, aids in restorative sleep, and helps them to associate learning with love. What will your child remember?
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