School time brings about earlier bedtimes. The following books are mostly picture books, and each begs to be read out-loud. All but one are relatively short, making bedtime a warm cuddling time as well as a soothing time to settle down and drift off to sleep.
Baby, Sleepy Baby, by Atinuke and gorgeously painted in mixed media by Angela Brooksbank, is a simple ode to baby as parents and grandmother lull baby to sleep. The lyrical text reads with sprinkles of stars, moonlight and even the dark sky as each adult rocks baby to sleep. The open-page spread completely fills the page, and your heart, as love permeates throughout. Best for ages zero through three.
The Three Princes of Serendip: New Tellings of Old Tales for Everyone, told by Rodman Al Galidi and beautifully illustrated with extraordinary cut paper designs by Laura Watkinson, is a collection of folktales originating from the Middle East. These twenty tales have the essences of Aesop with much to learn in each. The one about the three princes is clever along with a moral at the end. These bedtime stories are best for ages six through eight.
The Red Canoe, by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, is a story that takes this precious canoe, rich with memories of its owner, through life’s adventures. A young boy receives this precious canoe and begins to take it on the lake for much enjoyment. When he grows up and leaves, the canoe is left in the boathouse, forgotten for many years. When another boy discovers what lies inside this shed, he is thrilled and restores it back to life. The beautiful, muted colors fill one side of the open page and the book is perfect for ages six through nine.
Have You Ever Seen A Flower?, by Shawn Harris, won the prestigious Caldecott Honor Award for this year. The colors are so striking they nearly jump off the page! It’s truly remarkable how each page captures and captivates your imagination and carries the essence and jubilance of the colors of flowers. The text is brief and adds nicely to the simple beauty of this spectacular book. Each open-page seems to amplify the brilliance and beauty of nature giving youngsters ways to color-up their dreams. All ages would enjoy this book.
Sashiko, by Barbara Ciletti and gorgeously illustrated with muted and beautiful colors by Maria Cristina Pritelli, celebrates the intricate textile of Japanese embroidery style. The origin of this type of stitching came about long ago during the Edo period meant to strengthen fishermen’s jackets to last longer. The exquisite artwork displayed in this book, along with the poetic imagery from the text, evokes the splendor of Japan. This thread will rise like the fish of summer/As they ride on waves that rise and curl. The ages best for this book is five through nine.
Moonlight Prance, by Serena Gingold Allen and the wondrous illustrations made with gouache and watercolor by Teagan White, is an interactive board book that displays a wheel to turn and tabs to pull. While little ones are sleeping, the animals come out to move and dance. Hues of purple and brown are set against the midnight sky filling each open page. The rhyming text is rich with alliteration. Hedgehogs hustle across dewy lawns. Raccoons rollick ‘till daylight dawns. Best for ages two through five.
The Wrong Fairy Tale: Cinderella and the Seven Dwarfs, by Tracey Turner and brightly illustrated by Summer Macon, is a fun and hilarious tale based on two traditional fairy tales. It begins with the seven dwarfs noticing a crashing sound in a house up the hill. When they arrive at the house, they find Cinderella distraught from breaking dishes she was washing. When they discover she needs a dress for the ball, they make her one. The story is intertwined with both tales with a humorous tone and text making it great fun to read out loud. There’s also Red Riding Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff by the same author and illustrator. Best for ages four through eight.
The Fog Catcher’s Daughter, by Marianne McShane and stunningly painted with serene watercolor by Alan Marks, is an imaginative story rich in storytelling and perfect for bedtime. It takes place in Ireland three fields from the sea, within reach of an enchanted isle where fairy folk live. Once a year Emily’s father embarks in his small boat to collect fog from around the island. When Emily discovers he left his magical charm needed for his protection of the fairies, she takes her smaller boat to ride the waves and locate him. There is a veiled aura of green country felt throughout the book due to the combination of the richness of the story and the misty illustrations. Good for ages five through nine.
You are Getting Sleepy, by Lori Alexander and brightly illustrated by Monica Mikai, is the perfect little board book for babies ages zero to three. The lyrical text and adorable baby pictures are sure to lull little ones to sleep. The bedtime routine begins with bath time, getting the jammies on ending with bed but with kisses all along the way.