Thursday, March 29, 2012

Picture Books: Favorite Bedtime Stories of 2011

Many families cherish the tradition of bedtime reading.   I love books that help children transition into sleepytown.  These books soothe with images and words that portray youngsters settling for the night, no matter how much they want to resist.   In 2011, there were many new bedtime stories published.  With so many to chose from, here are my favorites to help you narrow down your search for the next new favorite book for your family bedtime routine. 

Farmyard Beat (by Lindsey Craig)
This bubbly text is sure to engage young listeners.  Using each of the animals on the farm and a sound, it follows this pattern:   

Chicks can’t sleep.
Chicks can’t sleep.
Chicks can’t sleep
‘cause they got that beat!

Peep! Peep!  Peep-peep-peep!
Peep! Peep!  Peep-peep-peep!
All that peeping wakes up…

A new animal is introduced on the next page, offering the opportunity for children to predict which one it is.   In the end, even Farmer Sue catches the beat and joins the animals in their dance until …. “they fall in a heap!  Asleep.”  Marc Brown has created lively illustrations of the animals dancing using hand-painted papers and a collage technique using mostly primary shapes.  I love this book because it has a catchy repetitive verse that invites children to read along.  It uses rhyme and onomatopoeia, two early reading skills to discuss.   The text is simple and repetitive enough that early readers can practice with it.

Goodnight,Goodnight, Construction Site (by Sherri Duskey Rinker)  
This selection will be especially popular with little boys who are the most frequent fans of all things trucks.  On the big construction site, the tough trucks—dump truck, excavator, crane truck, cement mixer, bull dozer—are busy all day.  As the day comes to a close, they quiet down one by one. Artist Tom Lichtenheld contrasts the night and day activities using lots of primary colors in various shades.  The trucks are personified with facial features and depicted with bedtime objects, such as a blanket and a teddy bear. The rhyming text begins dynamically but gradually shifts to more peaceful imagery for each truck:    

Spinning, churning all day long,
Cement Mixer sings his whirly song.
Now (yawn!) he’s weary
And so dizzy, for the fun that keeps him busy.

With one last spin, he pours the load.
He’s ready now to leave the road.
He takes a bath, gets shiny-bright,
Pulls up his chute, turns off his light.

He cuts his engine, slows his drum.
And dreams sweet dreams of twirly fun.

Each episode concludes with “Shh…goodnight, [name of vehicle], goodnight.”  The closings use bedtime language like “curls up in bed,” “takes a bath,” and “dims lights.”  Once the construction site is “tucked in tight,” the light is off and the final goodnights are said.  It’s a perfect way to end story time!

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: A Lullaby (by Jane Yolen)   
Little monsters run, stumble, hip-hop, and slither around after school while playing outside with others. When they return to their cave home, they eat and bathe.  Prayers are said and then off to bed.  The little monster toss, turn, and bounce instead.  A melody of noises follows—growl, gurgle, burp, grrrr, snarl, and snarf—representing the action in the pictures before they finally are lulled off to sleep despite protests of the contrary.  

Kelly Murphy, the illustrator, depicts with humor and whimsy the sparse but fun text, providing a perfect opportunity for children to guess what is happening when the monsters snarf or gurgle.  This lullaby is an amusing way to finish off any day.

Chicks Run Wild (by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen)    
The chicks are all tucked in their beds.  Momma hen kisses each one, but when she leaves…”those chicks run wild!” A rhyming quatrain describes each of their escapades, such as this one:   

They count ONE, TWO, THREE, and FOUR!
Then do cartwheels on the floor.
When they somersault and leap,
someone sees they’re not asleep.

Mama catches them each time and instructs them to go to bed.  Then, she tries a different approach once she realizes the chicks still have some energy they need to burn.  She asks, “Where is Mama’s invitation?”  Baffled at first by this shift in events, they all join in a bedtime romp until the chicks tire out and beg to go to bed.   After tucking them in and kissing them good-night, she leaves to have her own “wild” time (which is an ironic twist).   The pictures by Ward Jenkins are spirited and vivid.  The chicks are just plain adorable!  Children will be drawn to the characters and brisk text.  

This post is linked up with Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is a Word.


  1. These all sound very cute! We'll have to try some of them and see if they help induce sleep. :)

  2. I definitely think we need the construction site book!

  3. I haven't read any of these books- but they all look fantastic for different reasons. Chicks Run Wild and Creepy Monsters Sleepy Monsters both are books I want to check out soon. Thanks for sharing!



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