Beyond helping children gain basic literacy skills, reading can be a huge piece of building warm and loving family bonds. From babies to preschoolers, reading builds family connections and sets routines. And one of the most useful book traditions with children is bedtime reading. Taking time every single night to read a book helps your child settle their busy brain and relax into a blissful sleep.
To get great book ideas, we conducted a very informal survey to find out which books have made a lasting impression on Hoosier families.
Here are the top book picks:
- Good Night Moon – Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Illustrated by Clement Hurd
This wonderful book about a mother rabbit putting her baby down to sleep was hands down the winner in our informal poll. Everyone loves how the words flow and lilt as everything in the room is told “good night.” Good Night Moon is a timeless treasure!
- Llama Llama Red Pajama – Written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney
A cute story from the Llama Llama series came is also beloved. Mother Llama puts her baby down to bed but Baby llama still needs her – a dance familiar to anyone who has managed the long haul of toddler bedtimes. The rhyming words and soothing repetition make this one a got-to bedtime book.
- Guess How Much I Love You – Written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram
Rabbits are popular characters for sleepy children’s’ books — maybe because they are so cute and cozy — and this very sweet book provides a lovely touch point at the end of a day. A parent rabbit and fluffy baby tell each other, over and over and over, how much they love one another in increasingly meaningful ways. Many moms and dads like to repeat the sweet messages to their own little ones as they read.
- Good Night Owl – Written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
When a strange noise disturbs Owl’s rest, he has to investigate! This beautifully illustrated book is as popular at baby showers as it is at bedtimes. The 2016 book recently won a Geisel Honor Books Award from the American Library Association. So, it’s both family and librarian-approved.
- Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train — Both written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Have a little one obsessed with vehicles of all kinds? These books, written in poetic and colorful language, offer the perfect way to wind down for kids who love anything on wheels. Indeed, as these books show, sometimes we need to make sure large machinery is properly put to bed as we help our little ones head to dream land.
- The Going to Bed Book – Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
This book is short and sweet, perfect for babies and young toddlers. And it introduces the math concept of opposites like big and small. The sing-song story follows silly animals as they go through bedtime routines. From brushing teeth to being rocked to sleep, the calming, rhyming story is perfect for bedtime.
- It’s Time to Sleep, My Love – Written by Eric Metaxas and illustrated by Nancy Tillman
From the illustrator of the popular On the Night You Were Born, you can expect the same beautiful illustrations and heartfelt message. This is another lovely selection if your little one loves cuddly time. It also nurtures bonds, giving your family a great opportunity to relax and share how much you love one another.
- Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey – Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
This bedtime book comes in both board book and standard story book printings. And either way, it offers beautiful illustrations of boys, girls and fanciful creatures who carry these little dreamers to fantasy locations. Light on text, but heavy on dreamscapes, each page offers a chance to talk and notice the illustrations together.
We hope you and your little ones enjoy these books. Our dream is that everyone in your home can get good night’s sleep! (It can definitely be difficult in these early years. But we also hear that it gets easier. Families can dream, right?)
We’d love to hear your suggestions too! Please feel free to share your family’s favorites in the comments below.
Cover image by Flickr user Lars Plougmann, Creative Commons license.