Darkness falls early during the long winter months. Here are some great picture books perfect to help settle little ones down to sleep. All of these books are good for ages three to eight.

N ChampionThe World Champion of Staying Awake, by Sean Taylor, and painted with vivid beautiful water-colors by Jimmy Liao, is wonderfully executed in using many tactics to get children to sleep. Stella is a youngster who is not about to go to sleep until she can get her three cherished toys to bed who tell her each is the world champion of staying awake. She proceeds to tell the most creative stories to settle each down. Each rhythmic tale is surrounded by colorful creations made up by Stella. By the end, there’s only one left awake: Stella. And remember to check out the clever front and back end pages.

Farmyard Beat, by Lindsey Craig, and ingeniously illustrated by Marc Brown, is a most clever story in both rhyme and pictures. “Chicks can’t sleep. / Chicks can’t sleep. / Chicks can’t sleep cause they got that beat!” And they begin to peep peep and peep. All that peeping wakes up: Sheep. It becomes quite a ruckus with all these animals feeling the beat. However, “they all fall in a heap! Asleep!”, until morning when a rooster wakes them with “that beat!” The illustrations are all hand-painted into basic geometric shapes and there is texture and color from top to bottom on every page!

N LittleStarTwinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, by Jerry Pinkney, is a most creative venture for this renowned artist / author. He takes this simple nursery song and magically recreates a wondrous adventure that a forest chipmunk takes in search for that special star. Many of these gorgeous full-spread pictures evoke the forest habitats of life where Pinkney lives. Many of these water colored paintings of the little chipmunk’s adventures are wordless, which invites the listener to participate. Be sure to read the inspiration of the story in the Author’s Note found at the back.

Good Night, World, by Willa Perlman, and illustrated with colors that fill both pages by Carolyn Fisher, is a gracious reflection of a child’s appreciation of all the earth’s gifts as he gets ready for sleep. The swirls of waves, the patterns of leaves and fluctuations of color and rhyme create an appraisal of all God has given us. Check out the many ways to say good night in different languages found at the back of the book.

N your-moon-my-moonYour Moon, My Moon, by Patricia Maclachlan, and illustrated with a wonderful combination of watercolor and collage by Bryan Collier, celebrates the bond between grandparent and child even though both are far apart. The story is based on the author’s grandchild who lives in Africa and the lyrical words express the great love of her absent grandchild. The collage, combined with watercolor, gives texture and life to each full page spread.

Moo, Moo, Brown Cow, Have You Any Milk?, by Phillis Gershator, and painted with a folk-art rendition by Giselle Potter, takes the first two lines of the classic nursery rhyme, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and continues this rhythmic pattern by having a youngster asking “Does wool make a blanket for my bed?” All of the animals rhymed here help the young boy get ready for bed. And then, so do they. This delightful story would actually be a perfect emergent reader with the predictable text repeating throughout. The colorful pictures fill the open-spread pages.

N DreamDream Away, by Julia Durango and Katie Belle Trupiano, and painted on cloth with brilliant quixotic oil by Robert Goldstrom, takes a boy and his dad on a dream voyage as the boy falls asleep while being read to by his father. The ship, portrayed as a folded paper soldier hat, glides into the cloudy moonlit night where animals become constellations and the moon is attached to a string and guides father and son on their rhyming adventure. This story should set sail into a dreamland of delight as the boy and the moon both show sleep at the end.

N CharlotteJaneBattlesCharlotte Jane Battles Bedtime, by Myra Wolfe, and painted with watercolor and digitally enhanced with texture by Maria Monescillo, showcases a young girl who refuses to go to sleep. She just has too many adventures to experience and likes “to get all the juice out of my days!” As the day gets later and later, she ends up not going to sleep and discovers how tired she is the next day. Her attitude changes and she decides her dreams can continue her adventures through the night. The pictures showcase Charlotte Jane as a pirate and many of the pictures have strategic small colorful illustrations on a white background. But the full-spread pictures reflect her adventures the best. This kid-pleasing adventure just might convince your youngster that bedtime is actually a continuum of their day’s activities!