by Grace Benedick, Children’s Librarian
As a child, I loved the long summer days and the warm summer nights, but if there was one thing I really hated about summer, it was bedtime. I think we can all remember the childhood trial of trying to fall asleep before the sun had set—when it seemed the whole world was still wide awake. Fortunately, for all of you grown-ups with children undergoing that yearly trial, the library is full of wonderful bedtime stories to appease your wakeful children. In fact, over 200 titles will come up if you search our catalog for picture books about bedtime, so here’s a small selection of summery favorites to get you started:
Jonathan Bean’s debut picture book, At Night is all about one of those restless nights when sleep just won’t come. The story moves at a poetic, quiet pace, following a restless girl as she chases the night breeze up to her city roof. With her curious mother trailing behind, she takes her pillows and blankets upstairs to the rooftop terrace, where she can see the moon and feel the breeze, and better yet—fall asleep.
Goodnight Songs is a new book of lullabies by none other than Margaret Wise Brown, herself. Best known for the classic Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown wrote prolifically, and this new volume contains 9 songs never before published. It is a charming collection of nonsensical songs to lull little ones to sleep, each song accompanied by a lovely illustration from a different award-winning illustrator. The book also contains a CD with Tom Proutt and Emily Gary’s soft, folk-inspired recordings of the songs.
In A Good Night Walk, Elisha Cooper takes us for a stroll through the neighborhood to watch the world settle down for the night. We leave the house by daylight and see scampering squirrels and neighbors mowing their lawns, but when the moon comes up and we walk back home, the lawnmower is in its shed, and the squirrels are asleep in a tree. The whole neighborhood is turning in for the night, and it’s time for us to do the same. It makes me want to go on a bedtime walk, myself!
Lilli Carré takes us on altogether different sort of walk in Tippy and the Night Parade. Tippy wakes up every morning to a huge mess and a strange assortment of animals in her bedroom. When her mother expresses her dismay, Tippy replies, “All I remember is falling asleep!” “But maybe last night I walked out the door…” Tippy thinks to herself, as she falls asleep, and does indeed walk out the door. Come to the library and check out a copy of the Tippy and the Night Parade to see the silliness that ensues when Tippy goes for one of her nightly walks.
Then for the late nights that the kids get to stay up ‘til after dark, there’s Blackout by John Rocco. It’s about a summer night when everyone is too busy to play, but a power outage interrupts the family’s separate tasks and brings them together. Board games by flashlight, ice cream, stargazing and a whole block party ensues! But when the lights come back on, this family decides that time together is better than all the busy work. Another one for the late nights, Susan Gal’s Night Lights is a celebration of all the lights a child can find on a summer night. From fireflies to flashlights, to bedroom nightlights, the book traces a girl’s evening by naming all the lights she comes across as her night progresses toward (you guessed it!) bedtime.
If nothing else, bedtime stories give kids something to look forward to at the end of their day—not a bad tradeoff for missing that last hour of daylight. So, come to the library and stock up on stories for your summer nights!