For many children, the bedtime routine is simply not complete without a story before they drift off to slumberland. But oftentimes kids plead for “just one more book” and an inevitable battle ensues. Then there are the requests for a glass of water and a trip to the bathroom. And just when you think they’ve finally settled down and quiet time is imminent, you hear little feet scurrying around. If this scenario sounds familiar, you may want to pick up one of these bedtime books that are aimed at kids ages 2 to 5 but which may also help parents put their little ones to bed in record time.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight (Scholastic Books, $19.99) by Jane Yolen
When this storybook first appeared in 2000, it quickly earned the title of a modern classic. Yolen uses short, melodic verse to describe the wacky ways dinosaurs react when their human parents come to tuck them in. From full-blown tantrums to shouts for more stories, the exasperated parents face the nearly impossible challenge of putting a dinosaur to bed. Children will giggle at the sight of enormous dinosaurs trying to fit into tiny beds and being scolded by parents 10 times smaller. The book appeals enormously to preschoolers who are often fascinated by the grandeur of dinosaurs. Hopefully, when children see the dinosaurs performing their antics, it might give them an opportunity to reflect on their own behaviour. And when one dinosaur actually goes to bed in loving compliance, they might even be inspired to do the same.
Go To Bed Monster (Harcourt, $21.95) by Natasha Wing
One night, Lucy wakes up and decides it would be more fun to draw than go back to sleep. So she pulls out her crayons and paper and lets her creativity take over. The result is a goofy-looking monster that suddenly jumps off the page. Like Lucy, this monster doesn’t want to go to bed either. Unfortunately, Lucy is getting tired and would like to sleep but the monster wants to keep on playing. She has to use some imaginative tricks to get the monster settled under the blankets. The story’s simple plot helps kids understand what it’s like to face a small being who refuses to go to sleep. By the time Lucy gets the monster to bed, she can barely keep her eyes open. Hopefully, by the end of the book, your little ones will be feeling the same.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late (Hyperion, $18.99) by Mo Willems
This is the second book in Mo Willems’ popular and hysterically-funny Pigeon series, where the narrator puts the reader in charge of a willful and persistent bird. In this book, the narrator asks the reader to make sure that Pigeon doesn’t stay up late, even as the bird tries to convince you otherwise. The reader is torn between the narrator’s clear instructions and Pigeon’s big pleading eyes, which are difficult to resist. Pigeon makes excuse after excuse about why he shouldn’t go to bed, insisting that he is not tired, even as he yawns and his eyelids droop. This book allows toddlers to assume the role of caretaker, which is sure to generate some giggles from both parents and children. Even if done in a humourous and light tone, Willems gives kids an early lesson in empathy that will help them better understand how their behaviour affects others.
Jibberwillies at Night (photo above – Scholastic, $18.99) by Rachel Vail
With some kids, bedtime is a challenge because they are afraid of the night, with its darkness and shadows. Author Rachel Vail addresses this scenario in Jibberwillies at Night, which tells the story of Katie, a little girl whose happy feelings get chased away at night by mischievous gremlins called Jibberwillies. Lying in bed, she tries her best to think about her favourite things so she can forget about these scary little creatures, but soon she is calling for her mother. Thankfully, Katie’s mom has a tried and tested solution for getting rid of Jibberwillies: catch them in a bucket and throw them away. Together, Katie and her mom rid her room of all its spooky shadows. Vail shows kids and parents that the same powers of imagination that brought fears to life can also be used to get rid of them. It’s a powerful and useful lesson.