I hate bedtime. I am not going to lie; it is really my least favorite time of the day. Part of it is that I do want to snuggle with my sweet three year old and smell his neck and tell him I love him. But he wiggles. And Plays. And Tells stories. FOR TWO HOURS. I have homework, chores, and a desire to maybe watch another episode of Once Upon A Time. Many nights I succumb to sleep before he does so we kind-of both win, I guess. Despite our trials, what I do love about bedtime is the stories, so here are our top three favorites.
When the World is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields and illustrated by Anna Currey. “When the world is ready for bed, the sky grows dark, the sun glows red.” So begins the bedtime routine of a lovely family of rabbits as they eat supper, tidy, bathe, and tuck into their beds. I like the part where they tidy up, finding puzzle pieces under the couch, but the sweetest part is when the three bunny siblings crawl under the covers and sleep under the shining evening star. The watercolors are beautiful and relaxing, and we love to have a book that tells the rhythm of the evening into night. We, of course, hoped that we could use the book as a pattern for J to get used to the evening routine. It worked to get him into a routine, but the routine fails to get him to sleep in a reasonable time frame. We love the story anyway and read it as often as we can, since it is one of very few books we bought brand new.
A few months ago, J started getting more and more scared in the night. Prayers help, but he needed one he could remember and relate to, so I brought home Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones. We found it at the library many months ago. Now that we have started reading it every night, J has memorized it quickly. Part of the ease of memorization comes from its rhythm and rhyme (which, I have found, three year olds LOVE: we read a lot of Dr. Seuss). Also, I think it is relatable for him, to thank God for things like milk and toys. It also has this lovely line: “Bless other children far and near and keep them safe and free from fear” combined with a picture of hundreds of children’s faces from around the world. J especially loves this picture, pointing out the ones with the funny hair. This book won a Caldecott Medal in 1945; the soft, sweet pictures are delightful. The Caldecott Medal is an annual award for art in children’s literature, presented by the Library Service to Children division of the American Library Association.
Finally, Can You See a Little Bear? by James Mayhew and illustrated by Jackie Morris. What initially drew me to this book is the beautiful fantasy land created by Jackie Morris. It is full of angel-fairies and hot air balloons, castles and a circus. The story follows a small polar bear as he wanders through the land, collecting a hat, and a toy, and seeing what there is to see. Finally though, the little bear’s parent comes and finds him and gathers him home for bed. The poem works by comparing the different animals: “Lions are yellow, peacocks are blue, can you see a little bear trying on a shoe?” J always likes to find the item in question, as well as the different animals. We have another book illustrated by Jackie Morris as well; I can spend a long time looking at the magical details in each watercolor painting. This artist inspires me to cover my walls with children’s book illustrations, although I have yet to start that project. “Cats like the sun, and owls like the moon, Good Night, Little Bear – hope to see you soon.”
Field, R. (1941) Prayer for a child. New York : Simon & Schuster
Mayhew, J. (2005) Can you see a little bear? London: Frances Lincon Children’s Books.
Shields, G. (2009) When the world is ready for bed. New York: Bloomsbury.