It may be a difficult time of the year to get your youngsters to go to bed.  There’s many fun things to do and it’s still light outside.  However, there are ways to help them relax and get ready for bed and sleep.  Here are some great picture books about, and for, sleep – for ages two through seven. 

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Car, by Kate Dopirak, is a delightful take-off from the familiar rhyming song.  A bright red car does not want to go to sleep.  So instead, he drives to different locations saying goodnight to other vehicles along the way.  The little car has large round eyes and a happy smile all of the way through the story making this a sweet adventure.  A pale blue palate is used throughout for the background color making all vehicles pop out with color. The illustrations were made with hand-printed linoleum blocks and then digitally collaged. The rhyming text will most likely make the reader desire to sing the entire book!  

Sleepy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard, is not ready to go to bed.  “His wings wanted to flap. His legs wanted to run. All of him wanted to play.”  Each of the other animals are settling down to sleep in their own way.  They try to help him by giving advice but he just wants to play.  The story is fun and funny and would be perfect for reading at bedtime.  The vibrant illustrations were done with digital media and practically jump off the pages.

 Lemur Dreamer, by Courtney Dicmas, will take you for quite an extraordinary adventure.  Louis the Lemur sleepwalks.  The rest of his friends lead ordinary lives and sleep without any undo excitement.  But after the problems he causes with his sleep walking his friends decide to follow him and ascertain where he goes.  What they discover, and the solutions they come up with, will have giggles galore.  The captivating pictures cover the double pages and just might allure your little one to sleep.

William’s Winter Nap, by Linda Ashman, and with illustrations beautifully painted with pencils, charcoal, ink and photoshop by Chuck Groenink, hails back to the familiar Ukrainian folk tale called “The Mitten”.  William is ready to go to bed when a small squirrel shows up at his door asking if he can stay.  Just as they are snuggling down in bed a little larger porcupine asks to stay.  Each time they settle down, a knock comes at the door and each time a larger animal shows up.  The ending has a bit of a surprise when a very large animal shows up. The rhyming text and beautiful pictures make this a perfect bedtime story.

Pancakes in Pajamas, by Frank Asch, has baby bear exclaim that wearing pajamas and having pancakes for breakfast is perfectly fun.  So he says “I wish we could stay in our pajamas and eat pancakes all day long!”  So that is just what they do.  They end up reading and resting and just enjoying each other.  In fact, this was so fun, the entire town catches on.  Before long the entire town catches the spirit and even celebrates with a parade.  The story is simple with few sentences on each page.  Many of the pictures are extended on the double page and painted with vibrant colors.

Will Sheep Sleep, by Hilary Leung, is the first board book in a wonderful planned series.  Sheep is very tired.  He has had a busy day and now he needs to go to sleep.  As he attempts to get ready for bed, he continually finds extensions of fun activities to add to his nightly bedtime chores.  As he brushes his teeth with his alligator friend they both participate in an activity of toothbrush sword playing.  The antics of both sheep and friends are hilarious.  The woodgrain texture is woven throughout the background of every page and the colors of these adorable characters  are vivid and bright.

Windows, by Julia Denos, and beautifully painted with watercolor, ink, letterpress and digital collage by E. B. Goodale, begins with a boy and his dog going outside for a walk at dusk as the city is shutting down and begins to go to sleep.  He peers at the windows “as the lights turn on inside: a neighborhood of paper lanterns”.  The double-page scenes are glorious in color and detail as you see lights from inside become bright through the dimming sunlight.  The sparse text is rich with eloquence and elegance describing each scene the boy observes. This is a beautiful soliloquy to life.

Three Little Monkeys, by Quentin Blake, and wonderfully painted by Emma Chichester Clark, is a humorous read-out-loud that will have children chuckling.  Hilda is fortunate to have three unique pet-monkeys.  These pets are also pests.  Each time she leaves them, they become bored and that’s when they become quite mischievous.  One time they get into her knitting and when she returns, the yarn is all over the floor tied in knots.  Another time when she left, they got into the toilet paper which ended up all over the floor.  They were covered from head to toe in shampoo.  But she finds she loves them unconditionally when she discovers something at bedtime. Great fun.