Settling young ones down after a full day of play can be challenging. And now with school right around the corner, getting back in the “bedtime on time” schedule can be difficult. So check out these great picture books to help lull those youngsters off to dreamland. All books are great for ages three to eight.

N_the_Rain_TrainThe Rain Train, by Elena De Roo, and beautifully painted by Brian Lovelock, takes a boy on a train ride through the night. The watercolors of deep blue hues fill the pages as the text keeps an onomonopia rhythm with the “Clackety-clack” and the rhyming such as “Shackety-shack” throughout. The ending finds the boy dreaming. The front pages set the tone with the train in the moonlight and the end pages shows dawn in the same scene.

Franklin‘s Big Dreams, by David Teague, and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, is an unusual story about a boy who suddenly is awakened by someone with a sledgehammer. Soon a track is laid and a train comes barreling through and then quickly disappears. There are more interruptions on future nights when the boy finally figures out how to become part of this exciting adventure. Watch for small hints in the pictures of the future dreams.

N_ChampionThe World Champion of Staying Awake, by Sean Taylor, and painted by Jimmy Liao, has a nice blend of getting ready for bed, and fantasy, when Stella must put her three favorite stuffed animals to bed. They claim to be champions for not falling asleep. So she tells each a story full of imagination as they begin to drift off to sleep. The full-page pictures illustrating her stories are rich and different from the rest of the book helping to differentiate when she’s in her bedroom and when the stories are taking place. Don’t forget to check out the front and end pages.

Hide and Squeak, by Heather Vogel Frederick, and illustrated by C. F. Payne, is a delightful display of playfulness of father and son as baby mouse is running and jumping all over the house while daddy chases him in hopes of going to bed. The bond is strong between these two and it’s obvious the joy both experience during this nighttime routine.  The paintings of acrylic, pen and colored pencils are a perfect blend.

N_pajamapiratesPajama Pirates, by Andrew Kramer, and illustrated by Leslie Lammle, will take young dreamers on an adventure on to the high seas where pirates try to overtake the bed-turned-boat. But, alas, the three shipmates and their trusted dog turn the mast into a ghost frightening the skullduggery pirates away. The simple rhyming text and the swashbuckler bedmates make for an adventure perfect for dreamland.

N_MoonDreamsMoon Dreams, by Ruth Martin, and digitally created illustrations by Olivier Latyk, has young Luna loving to watch the moon as she drifts off to sleep. But she wonders where the moon goes in the day. This brings about a creative adventure in her dreams as she imagines what the moon is up to. This would make a nice going-to-bed story.

Itsy Mitsy Runs Away, by Elanna Allen, is the perfect story for those children who really dislike going to bed. Itsy Mitsy falls into this category and finally decides to run away where there is no bedtime. As she begins to pack, her dad gives her suggestions of what to pack and before you know it, she’s packed her entire house which includes her dad.  The minimal color with much white as background gives a cartoonish effect and adds to the great humor in this alluring story!

Big Brothers Don’t Take Naps, by Louis Borden, and full page illustrations by Emma Dodd, is a great book celebrating the middle child. Nick follows his older brother, James, in all that he does. But James doesn’t have to take naps. He tells Nick that big brothers don’t have to. So when a new baby sister comes along, Nick finds he’s a big brother now.

N_WhydoIhaveWhy Do I Have to Make My Bed? or a History of Messy Rooms, by Wade Bradford, and illustrated by combining Photoshop and watercolors by Johanna Van Der Sterre, deals with the dreaded chore all kids have to do: make their beds. This clever book takes a brief look back in time where kids of different ages have to do their chores, such as a girl back in 1801 has drawn the water from the well and already picked up her marbles and rag doll. So she asks her mother, “Land’s sakes, Ma, why do I have to make my bed?” It seems to be the eternal dilemma!

Cuddle Up, Goodnight, by Katie Cleminson, is a nice way to demonstrate to youngsters the activities of a day and then how, near the end of this day, there’s reason for being exhausted and being ready to fall asleep. The boy in this story is accompanied with animals helping him and vice-a-versa. This simple rhyming text lays out an active and rich day and then at night it’s time to cuddle up and read a good book.

bedtime-for-bear189A Bedtime for Bear, by Bonny Becker, and illustrated with watercolor and gouache by Kady MacDonald Denton, is a tale of two unlikely friends: a tiny mouse and a bear.  Similar to previous stories of these two companions, both of the friends find a solution to their bedtime problem.