Restful stories to put kids to sleep

Books - March 2005


Judy Belanger


Reading to children at bedtime is a relaxing way to get them to calm down after a busy day. What is the bedtime routine in your house? Often children want just a little more playtime before putting things away and beginning to settle down. Dreams and imagination are included in this month’s selections. Two of the stories this month are based on nursery rhymes. Whatever your routine, I hope you enjoy these bedtime stories.

THE GOING TO BED BOOK, by Sandra Boynton, Little Simon, $9.99; ages 2 and up.

The sun is setting, so all the animals on the boat have to get ready for bed. They run downstairs to take a bath, put on pajamas and brush their teeth. After they climb into bed, the water rocks them to sleep. This simple board book helps the very young establish a positive evening bedtime routine.

TEDDY BEAR, TEDDY BEAR, by Public Domain, illustrated by Timothy Bush, Greenwillow Books, $14.99; ages 2 and up.

The little boy in the story is walking home from school with his mother. Teddy bear is in his back pack. The bear leans over to smell a flower and falls to the ground. When they arrive home, Mom realizes the bear is missing. The bear has an interesting adventure finding his way home. Be sure to include the traditional nursery rhyme after reading this version, as well as the motions that can be found on the last page of the book.

MY BIG BOY BED, written by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Maggie Smith, Clarion Books, $15; ages 2 and up.

Donny has a brand new bed, complete with new sheets and quilt. His first test is bouncing on the new bed. He finds he has room for his teddy bear, blankie, cat, toy hippo and book. Best of all, he can climb out of his bed by himself. He is surprised to learn that Mom and Dad know when he does that and they tell him to get back in bed. He especially likes to climb out of his bed to say good night to his new baby brother in his crib.

THE MAGIC BED, by John Burningham, Alfred A. Knopf, $16.95; ages 3 and up.

Georgie is ready to move out of his crib and into a big bed. Georgie’s Granny suggests that Frank take him shopping. Much to Granny’s disappointment, they go to a second-hand shop to find a bed. But this is not just any old bed, the man at the shop has told them, it is a magic bed that allows whoever sleeps there to travel, simply by uttering the magic word. When Georgie and Frank clean up the bed, they can’t read the word to make the bed travel. After a few nights, Georgie figures it out and embarks on the most imaginative trips—including travels that allow him to see pirates and ride a dolphin. When the family goes on vacation, Granny sends the bed to the junk yard and replaces it with a new one. Georgie goes to the junk yard to jump on his bed. If children learn the magic word, who knows what kind of travels they might have? This would be an interesting story to use with children to help explain dreams.

BEDTIME! written by Christine Anderson, illustrated by Steven Salerno, Philomel Books, $14.99; ages 3 and up.

Mom tells Melanie that it’s time for bed, but she isn’t ready. She’s is too busy building a tower with her blocks. Why is it that children are always their busiest when it is time for bed? Mom lets Melanie continue playing, just this once. Since it is bed time, Mom takes Bart, the dog, to get ready for bed. What fun the dog has getting his bath, having his hair brushed, putting on his pajamas and getting a good-night kiss from Daddy. Melanie realizes what she is missing and hurries to bed so she will be in time to hear her favorite part of the bedtime story.

HUSH: A FANTASY IN VERSE, by Dominic Catalano, Gingham Dog Press, $14.95; ages 3-8.

In the middle of the night, a little girl wakes and calls for her daddy. He says, “Hush I’ll give you a mockingbird.” But only the beginning of the story is similar to the familiar lullaby. From there, Daddy mentions many journeys, including a trip around the world and to outer space. The little girl protests several times, but her dad keeps telling her “hush” and continues on. She finally asks Daddy to listen to her because when she woke up all she really wanted was a hug. Now continue the story with a telling of the original lullaby. STAR BLANKET, by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Erica Magnus, Boyds Mills Press, $15.95; ages 4 and up.

Whenever Daddy puts Laura to bed she asks him to tell her the same story about her very-used star blanket. The blanket is dark blue with 41 white stars and a satin border. Her daddy received the blanket from his grandmother on the day his younger sister was baptized. Instead of a blanket, her dad would have rather had a pair of Hopalong Cassidy boots. He finally was able to recognize the significance of the blanket, as each star represented a member of his family. Dad still enjoys going through the list of his relatives, and by the time he is finished, Laura is sound asleep. I enjoyed the nostalgia in this story but I found the generational perspective confusing and think it works best if grandparents were reading this story. They would have fun talking about family members, Hopalong Cassidy, DeSoto cars and soda fountains, all of which are mentioned in this book. 

Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.

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