If there were a modern Norman Rockwell “Bedtime” painting, I envision it as an image of a big bed, where the parents, kids, and pets snuggled together, trying to get a closer look at the pictures in the book mom or dad is “trying” to read.
Reading a bedtime stories is a wonderful, positive footnote to the day and can create some very special memories. Even kids who know how to read enjoy listening to you telling them a story.
Your voice is the perfect pairing with bedtime books! Thanks to technology, even if we can’t always be there in person to cuddle, it is still possible to share a story and a bonding moment.
- Buy two copies (or borrow yours from the library!) so you can make a story time date to read the story with a child/grandchild over a video chat.
- Make an audio recording. No matter device you have (desktop, laptop, mobile) you have or can add a free App for voice recording. Save the file and send via Dropbox (or similar) to your recipient’s parents.
With chapter books you can keep the gift going by creating a serial or “podcast.” Record a chapter at a time and add the recordings to Dropbox (or similar) on a preset schedule. Gifting a print copy allows them to follow along as you read, or, if they just can’t wait, pick up the book and read ahead.
Not a gift idea, but something helpful for parents who travel. When Bill traveled a lot, he would record himself reading one of Catherine’s current faves. That way, she and I could turn the pages as we listened to him read.
Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night by Dee Leone
| ages: infant to 5 |
The moon is rising, and the day is done. From page to page a poem helps us bid goodnight to the world outside – from fields and forest to ponds and the deep ocean. At journey’s end, after wishing for sweet dreams everywhere, we come inside, where a mother nestles her child and kisses them goodnight.
Absolutely fabulous. The poem is simple in its vocabulary and eloquent in creating that gentle rocking feel you want in a lullaby. Young children will love exploring the dark pages, and saying goodnight to creatures familiar and new.
Worth noting: This is on my list for new baby gift ideas.
But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer
| picture book, ages 2 to 6 |
When a bear knocks on the door, a young boy tells him to go home. He comes back the next day – with a friend – and the boy tells them to go home. Every time the bear tries to spend time with the boy, the boy sends him away. Then he stops coming. And the boy is happy. Or is he?
Yes, Mom and Dad will know what is going to happen; and your child will after the first time you read it. But they will still want to read it again. The story is sweet and perfect for bedtime. The sparse text allows readers to use the illustrations – which are exceptional! – to tell the story in their own way.
The Man Made of Stars by Land Wilson
| picture book, ages 2 to 9 |
When a young boy sees something flickering around the edge of the night sky, his grandmother says it is the man made of stars. The man goes to work every night with a bag and a lantern. So every night, the boy looks for the man and sometimes thinks he sees him. Then the man pulls the light out of his bag and throws it into the sky. The man says that when a person is nice to another person, a bit of kindness spills over and creates a star. They are everywhere and a part of everything.
Parent reviewer: An excellent message and gorgeous illustrations make a captivating, special book to share with children. My daughter (4) was fascinated by the pictures.
Hoot & Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie Helakoski
| picture book, ages 2 to 8 |
A storm is blowing and two eggs tumble from their nests. Mama Goose takes one egg back to her nest, and Mama Owl takes one to hers. Hmmm … Hoot has two yellow siblings. They like seeds, and they want to sleep at night. Hoot can’t sleep, so he takes a walk and finds other chicks out at night, just like him. Then Honk hatches from his egg. A mouse for dinner? Yuck!! How come they want to sleep? The sun is out. Shouldn’t we be in the water?
A fun story perfect for bedtime or anytime, really. The baby birds are SO-O-O cute. The story is simple yet effectively told. Toddlers will think the baby birds are adorable, and still be able to get the story about a gosling and owlet.
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear
| picture book, ages 2 to 8 |
Charles and Boggan set off to find a wish tree. Through the field, up hills and down, even across the icy pond. Along the way, Squirrel needs help getting nuts to his home, beaver with sticks to his lodge, and fox loading her burrow with berries. The day is almost done, and they still haven’t found the wish tree. The shadows are getting long and the snow is starting to fall. Will Charles find the wish tree?
What a lovely book for quiet times. Beautiful illustrations bring warmth and friendship to a story set in the snowy woods. Young readers will love exploring the illustrations to discover the magic in the images not described in the text. The ending gives the story a bit of a holiday feel, though it is a book that can be shared anytime.
Yes, you’re seeing this one again. It was in our Wordless Picture Books list. It is just that special.
Picking bedtime stories for older readers
We are H-U-G-E fans of continuing to read bedtime stories with kids who can read themselves. Spending a chapter or two together at the end of the day is a great way to reconnect over a shared experience.
Older listeners and readers know what they like in a book – adventure, fantasy, magic, mystery, humor – so it is better to find books that match those interests. You know what your reader likes, we’ll help you find it.
- Click this search of “bedtime” and then narrow the results by adding a genre and picking the age group that interests you.
- Use Read Alike lists to help you find books that are similar to titles you already know your readers love.
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