Because a Great Book Is an Excuse for a Cuddle at Bedtime

Eliza Clark
January 29, 2009

We love reading with our little ones at any old time of day -- morning, noon or night. But especially at nighttime. And as the darkness falls earlier every evening with winter's approach, we appreciate our cuddles with bath-scented, pajama-clad children and our favorite bedtime stories all the more.

Here are some of the best books we know to send our darlings off into slumber:

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle. Any pint-sized fan of Eric Carle's work will immediately recognize the gentle-faced moon of this book, and any parent of said pint-sized fan will immediately recognize the pleas of a little one to bring her the moon. From this familiar territory, Mr. Carle makes wonderful use of a couple of fold-out pages to tell the story of a dad who tries to reach up and pluck the moon for his daughter. Along the way he teaches a bit about the waxing and waning of the moon and a lot about the love of a parent, which as you know never wanes at all.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. This bedtime favorite is as beautiful a love poem as has ever been written. The story's imaginary game of hide-and-seek between a little bunny and his mother appeals to children's dreams of running away and even stronger desire always to be found. Its gentle tempo and dream-like images have sent countless little ones off to sleep with the lulling assurance that their very own mother bunny will be there no matter where they go, and whenever they awake.

Time for Bed by Mem Fox. You won't find a lovelier bedtime book than this one. Truly, you won't. Jane Dyer's naturalistic watercolors of mother animals snuggling their little ones to sleep are simply gorgeous: she even makes a mother snake look cuddly. In simple rhymes, the mother animals all repeat the mantra: time for bed, time to sleep. If this darling book doesn't get that message across, we can't imagine what will.

Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long. We're usually a bit wary of attempts to improve on childhood classics, but Sylvia Long's new lyrics for this beautiful song stand on their own. Rather than promising "a diamond ring," these verses offer to show a child the wonders of the natural world (a shooting star) and the comforts of home (a teddy bear, a quilt). Your child will love hearing you sing, and looking at the delicate illustrations. And when the lights are out, and she asks for one more song, you'll be glad to have learned this one.

Wynken, Blynken, & Nod by Eugene Field. We adore Johanna Westerman's dreamy illustrations of this classic and loveliest of lovely bedtime poems. You'll want it to be the last book you read every night as your children sail off into a sleepy "sea of dew."

And for more sleepy stories, see these Savvy Books & Toys suggestions.

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