Let’s Read Three: Children’s Picture Books for Bedtime

Welcome to Friday! And welcome to an exciting new series that I’m going to start until I run out of ideas. Being very fond of lists, especially for books, I think it high time that I make some short lists for reading books together. “Together” as in with someone else if you feel so inclined, but more especially “together” as in books that fit well when read in combination.

So let’s begin combo number one: three picture books to read aloud for bedtime, most especially for babies and toddlers.

The main factor in this series, is of course my blog name. When people hear about or first encounter this blog, sometimes they get it immediately. But most of the time they either don’t care enough to wonder or they end up asking what’s up with the name. In short, it is a generally common practice to read to your kids before bed. And a lot of parents find it helpful to limit the number of books and crack down on stalling, at least with the books. Three is a number that comes up a lot, at least in my experience, and I happen to be particularly fond of that number for no reason that I can explain. So three books a night is a good idea and something I encourage. Three books also work well in a number of circumstances: naptime, storytime, quick reading break, etc…. And so begins my Let’s Read Three series!

In the future, these posts will be short, quick summaries of the three books and why I put them together. I hope they are fun, but I also hope they are helpful. I’ve been formulating this series for a while and as I prepared to post it this week, I was also struck and challenged by a couple of articles which appeared recently. First off is this one in the New York Times called “I’m Tired of Reading Out Loud to My Son, O.K.?” While I sympathize with the mom and her tired state at the end of the day, I also felt frustrated at the books that she mentioned disdaining. Instead of sorting out my own reasons why, I would much rather point you to the other article which was posted as a response to this one. Jules said it all very eloquently in her Kirkus post, “Reading Aloud.” One of her question really struck me: “How can those of us who write about new children’s books better get the word out to parents, especially those looking for read-alouds?” This series is a part of my tackling that issue. I’m not an expert at combining books, nor is it always necessary; but I do think reading books that compliment each other in some way can make the experience much more enjoyable and rewarding (even if you end up reading them together often).

This was an easy one for me to start with, considering these are a current nighttime routine in our home. It took a bit to find this sweet spot, but if I get a say in the three books, this is it.

1. Counting Kisses by Karen Katz, 2001

It starts with ten kisses on the baby’s toes and works its way to one last kiss on the “sleepy, dreamy head.” Rhymes, bright colors, and bold illustrations make this one flow smoothly and enjoyably. Only thing that may get tiresome is the obligatory kisses that go with each number!

2. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, 1994

I’m pretty sure this book is considered a classic to many. It is a bit of genius. Very few words, all consisting of “Goodnight [something],” are combined with several wordless pages. Many details are repeated to be searched out on each page and the hilarity is hard to miss at any age.

3. Time For Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer, 1993

This book is gold for settling down to bed. Mem Fox’s rhymes are soothing with light repeats and lovely phrasing. Add Jane Dyer’s sweet animal illustrations of parent and child to the mix and the fodder for good dreams is quickly piled up.

I love this combination as they are all actually bedtime books, but they each tackle it differently. Silliness and humor lead to calming down and settling in. Rhymes are also lovely for drifting off and are easily worked in to your normal refrain even if that sweet book wasn’t in the mix. Pleasant dreams to all with our first three books mix. Let me know if you try them or if you have your own nighttime book routine.

One thought on “Let’s Read Three: Children’s Picture Books for Bedtime

  1. Thanks! This is so interesting! I read aloud for me as much as for my kids to be honest, and when I know a new book is ordered online I LOVE when I hear the thump in the hallway and know the postman has dropped it in the letterbox. Having said that, I am very tired some evenings, and have been known to skip pages, so can’t get too preachy about that article – but still – how can she not enjoy it? I suppose there is a lot of pressure out there, maybe that’s the problem? Anyways, nice blog!


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