Anyone who has ever shared a bedtime story with a child knows exactly how special this time can be. Those quiet moments before you send your beloved little ones drifting into dreamland provide an opportunity to spark their imaginations and end their day in a loving way. Anytime I visit my brother and sister-in-law during the evening, I make sure to stay until my niece's bedtime so that I can have the privilege of reading her a story in my softest, sweetest voice as her beautiful little eyes start to flutter and close. Even during the day, children often crave a few calm minutes spent with a stack of books. Here are some suggestions if you're in the mood for a sleepy story.
The Books-Night Boy by Anne Laurel Carter
-When the World Is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields
-Dream Hop by Julie Durango
-Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep by Elaine Greenstein
-Rise the Moon by Eileen Spinelli
-So Sleepy Story by Uri Shulevitz
When I used these books for my preschool storytime, I started by gathering the children around me and asking them to raise their hand if they liked to sleep (which everyone did, including myself and the teachers, because really who doesn't love a good night's sleep?). I told them the great thing about sleeping is that we can have all kinds of adventures in our dreams. I then proceeded to "give them a dream" by asking all the children to close their eyes and pretend they were asleep. I told stories of trekking through the desert, chasing lizards into caves, running from tigers in the jungle, and falling from a tall, icy mountain all to land safely back in a soft bed. This exercise really held their attention and geared them up for the stories which followed.
-Night Boy is a fun picture book with rhyming text and bold illustrations. A little boy named Night spends his evening playing with his sister, Day. Look for the names of actual constellations throughout the story.
-When the World Is Ready for Bed is a calm little tale about a bunny family and their bedtime routine. The pictures are cute, and the story is pleasant. This one would be great to read aloud in a soft voice to sleepy little ears.
-Dream Hop was probably the class favorite out of this lot. This book follows a young boy's dreams on a particularly exciting night. To switch dreams, he simply says "Dream Hop!". Have kids say this phrase with you to engage them in the story.
-Dreaming: A Countdown to Sleep combines counting skills and soft, peaceful illustrations for a perfect bedtime story.
-Rise the Moon was one of my personal favorites from this group. The text flows beautifully, and I was absolutely enchanted by the illustrations. This would be a great book for teaching children to embrace the magic of nighttime rather than fear it.
-So Sleepy Story is a book about inanimate household objects that slowly come to life and start dancing to the music of the night while everyone sleeps. After the dishes and furniture boogie into the night, eventually they fall quiet and rest as well.
-Sing a lullaby.
-Allow children to tell about an interesting dream they had.
-Read a nonfiction book about the sleeping patterns of animals.
-If it is nighttime, look out the window and do some stargazing.
-Craft a mobile or a dream catcher to hang above your bed. If you don't know how to make a dream catcher and you'd like to give it a try, I might as well point you in the direction of this new dream catcher kit in my Etsy shop!
Sweet dreams and happy reading, my friends!