Instead of covering the well-known and beloved picture books—like Good Night Moon and Where the Wild Things Are—, I focused on lesser known favorites. Each selection is about the bedtime ritual. These books are a soothing and peaceful way to settle young children down for the night. They are wonderful ideas for Christmas or birthday gifts. They are the perfect addition to any home library.
Pajama Time! (ages birth-4) by Sandra Boynton
As the moon comes up and it gets late, it is time to celebrate bedtime because: It’s Pajama Time! Animals put on their pajamas—whether they are old or new, red or blue. They celebrate by dancing in a line, no matter what their pajamas look like—stripey, polka dot, or the ugliest ever seen. Finally, all the animals hop into bed and turn out the light, so they can have a party in their dreams. This board book is a wonderful first night time reader with amusing illustrations and rhythmic text that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers will enjoy.
Little Quack’s Bedtime (ages birth-5) by Lauren Thompson
Mama Duck is putting Little Quack and his four siblings to bed for the night, but they are having difficulty getting settled. First, they see flashing in the dark, but Mama Duck reveals to them that the lights are only fireflies as she reminds them it is sleepy time. Widdle shuts her eyes and goes to sleep. The four remaining ducklings hear a “Whooo!” noise. Again, Mama Duck assures her little ducklings it is nothing to fear; it is just an owl. This pattern continues until Little Quack asks, “Why, oh, why is the night so dark?” Little Quack learns it is so the stars can shine their twinkling lights. Calmly, Little Quack shuts his eyes and goes to sleep. Young children will be reassured that the sights and sounds of the night are nothing to fear. They will love the adorable ducklings and vivid illustrations!
Tuck Me In! (ages 2-5) by Dean Hacohen & Sherry Scharschmidt
The stars are out, so the big question is: Who needs to be tucked in? Various baby animals—pig, zebra, elephant, alligator, hedgehog, and peacock—say, “I Do.” The reader turns a half page which becomes a colorful blanket that covers up and tucks in the animal. The format continues by wishing each animal baby good night. Then, the same question is posed each time, “Who else needs to be tucked in?” Finally, it shifts to ask the listening child if he needs to be tucked in.
It is nighttime on the farm and in the forest. Each little animal snuggles up in a cozy place with a parent who asks, "How many kisses do you want tonight?" The baby animals lightheartedly, respond with a number one to ten (in ascending order). A father asks his little girl princess and a mother inquires of her little boy knight how many kiss they want tonight. The final question to the listener is, “How many kisses do YOU want tonight?”
Shhhhh! Everybody’s Sleeping (ages 3-6) by Julie Markes
Various community helpers are seen sleeping—teacher, librarian, doctor, fireman, postman, and so forth. The narrative assures the young child that everything is done, and all is safe. Even the president is sleeping, and he has the most important job of all! It is time to go to sleep now, just like the sun. The listener is told, “Good night, sleep tight, my sweet little one.” The final picture is a small child sleeping with his stuffed rabbit.
How Do You Say Good Night? (ages 3-7) by Raina Moore
This soothing tale illustrates the numerous ways to say good night. The animal characters are individually asked how they say “good night” which is followed by a rhyming poetic tercet. Loving parents help their children get ready for bed with hugs, kisses, story time, bath time, and tucking in. Comforting images of soft pillows, comfy pajamas, and warm bath water fill the pages. Finally, the narrative shifts to a little girl being tucked in to bed by her mother who kisses her cheek and turns off the light.
Going to Sleep on the Farm (ages 3-9) by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
This book inspired me to research and to list these lesser known bedtime gems. I love to read it to my children at night. It begins with a boy playing with his plastic animals as he dad looks on. The boy asks, “How does a cow go to sleep—tell me how? How does a cow go to sleep?” The father answers, “A cow lies down in the soft, sweet hay, in a cozy barn at the end of the day. And that’s how a cow goes to sleep—Moo-moo.” This same pattern is followed as the boy asks about the other farm animals. The illustrations switch between a real animal settle down for the night and the boy playing and talking with his father. The closing images are of the father carrying the boy to bed, the finally, the boy going to sleep.
The Dreamtime Fairies (ages 4-7) by Jane Simmons
Lucy loves to tell stories. Each night, she falls asleep telling Bear stories. Her little brother Jamie, though, sees things in the shadows at bedtime, so he tosses and turns. One night Lucy tells Jamie that Bear can’t sleep eitherthey need to find the Dreamtime Fairies. Together they imaginatively travel across the ocean, through the jungle, and eventually, into the shadows where they dance and play with the Fairies. Lucy’s story teaches him that there is no need to be afraid of the shadows because that is where the Dreamtime Fairies fly.
Time to Say Good Night (ages 4-8) by Sally Lloyd Jones
For those who love the illustrations (and characters) in the Bear series by Karma Wilson, you will enjoy this bedtime lullaby illustrated by the same author, Jane Chapman. Forest animals—bunnies, birds, squirrels, bears, deer, and mice—are each told to settle down for the night and go to sleep. Then, there are 2 two-page spreads of the animals snuggled up together with their families. The animal parents then ask, “What about YOU, sleepyhead? Guess whose turn it is for bed?” The listener is told no more dances or chat; no more wanting this and that. It is time to go so sleep.