Maybe Matilda: 7 Favorite Bedtime Picture Books

Thursday, June 18, 2015

7 Favorite Bedtime Picture Books

One of Jeff's fondest childhood memories with his mom was listening to her read to him before bed each night. They read dozens of books together over the years (he remembers Watership Down being his favorite, and his sweet, patient mother read it to him multiple times over the course of his childhood).

He was positive that she read to all 4 of the kids in the family from elementary school through high school . . . but he mentioned this to her recently and she informed him that no, all of his siblings outgrew their nightly reading in their preteen years, and Jeff was the only one who still wanted to be read to every single night, all the way through high school.

If that isn't the sweetest thing you've heard all day, I just don't know what else to tell you.

7 great bedtime stories to read to your kids

All that intro to say, I would love to make a tradition of reading to my kids before bed every night. I haven't done a great job of this so far--by the time bedtime rolls around, I'm usually so exhausted that I rush through the bedtime routine as quickly as possible. But for those nights when we do manage to squeeze a book in before I clock out, here are 7 of our favorite bedtime stories.

Goodnight Already! (Jory John & Benji Davies) 

Poor Bear is eager to get to bed and fall asleep, but his neighbor Duck keeps showing up in Bear's bedroom with questions to ask, activities he wants to do together, and games he's desperate to play. And by the time Bear convinces Duck to say goodnight already, he's so wound up that now he's the one who can't fall asleep. It's funny and sweet with adorable, simple illustrations. We love it.

Good Night, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)

I don't often read picture books without words (I feel kind of silly trying to make up captions on the spot), but this one is worth the extra effort. The tired zookeeper locks up the animals for the night, but a sneaky little gorilla steals his keys and lets the animals out of their cages. They all follow the zookeeper home to bed, and make themselves comfortable . . . right in the zookeeper's bed.

interrupting chicken
Interrupting Chicken (David Ezra Stein) 

It's bedtime for little Chicken, but he just can't keep himself from interrupting his dad's bedtime stories to add his own commentary. When he finally takes over to tell his own bedtime story, he finds himself interrupted by his snoring dad. Clever and funny (especially if you have a little interrupting chicken of your own).

there's a nightmare in my closet

Here's a perfect bedtime story for a kid who's scared to be left alone in their room at night. The boy in the story is terrified of the monster hiding in his closet . . . until he works up the courage to stand up to the monster, who is actually terrified of him. It's so lovable, plus empowering and encouraging to little readers.

sleep like a tiger
Sleep Like a Tiger (Mary Logue) 

This one's absolutely worth your time, even if just for the pictures--these are some of the most beautiful illustrations I've ever seen in a picture book. A lovely and imaginative look at how different animals go to sleep, as told to a very not sleepy little girl by her parents at bedtime. It's gorgeous and lyrical, and even makes me kind of tired.

what cried granny
What! Cried Granny (Kate Lum)

I won't lie to you, folks--this one wasn't my favorite. I wasn't terribly fond of the illustrations, and the story got a bit tedious for me. But I'm including it in this list because Forrest looooves it and thinks it is absolutely hilarious. A little boy arrives for a sleepover at his granny's house, where he finds that she doesn't have any of the things he needs to get ready for a bed (like a bed, a blanket, a teddy bear to cuddle, etc). And by the time Granny gets everything prepared for him, morning has arrived and her grandson never had to go to bed. I think it's a little annoying, but Forrest is its biggest fan.

A companion book to There's a Nightmare in my Closet, this one isn't strictly a bedtime story . . . but I think it makes for a great bedtime read anyway. This follows the same basic story line as Nightmare, but with a lot more spunk and attitude. The little boy in this book is frightened of doing the chores his parents assign to him, because of ever-present monsters that he's sure are waiting around every corner for him. So he signs up for karate class, and shows off his moves to scare them off. Another great one for nervous kids, and Forrest loved it--partly because of the goofy looking monsters, and partly because he recently started taking a karate class and can't get enough.

What are some of your favorite bedtime books?

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