The Going To Bed Book (Little Simon)
Written & Illustrated by Sandra Boynton
For ages: 2-5
The first books a child likely receives are thick, sturdy board books designed to stand up to teething toddlers and grasping hands. The Going To Bed Book is a bedtime routine delivered as a rhyming story for our littlest ones. Boynton’s illustrations are expressive and straightforward, with animal characters going about the steps of preparing for bed. We see them taking a bath, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, etc. The Going To Bed Book would make an excellent first bedtime book for any child. It will help reinforce the routine we work to instill in our children while giving them a sweetly written story before nodding off for the night.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Chronicle Books)
Written by Sandra Duskey Rinker
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
For ages: 3-5
If you have truck-loving kids in your life, this is the perfect bedtime read. Using the framework of the classic Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Construction Site sees the anthropomorphic vehicles working hard during the day and settling down when night falls. We get to see Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Bulldozer, Excavator, and Dump Truck in action, doing their assigned tasks and told in a sing-songy rhyme. Many big vocabulary words can easily be defined using the welcoming Cars-like illustrations. There’s even that nice bit of diversity via pronouns where trucks are both male and female, making sure not to leave out little girls and nb children who love big rigs.
Interrupting Chicken (Candlewick)
Written & Illustrated by David Ezra Klein
For ages: 4-7
As a teacher, I definitely experienced my share of interruptions. It’s inevitable with young children because their excitement to share their thoughts can overwhelm them. However, it is vital to help children learn the positive aspects of listening to their peers and the adults around them. Father Chicken reads a fairy tale to his little one but gets interrupted by the child, who quickly tells the rest of the story. This is handled very tenderly and with a lot of humor, providing an adult reader with wonderful moments to pretend to be their own little chicken. I don’t think the book will cure chronic interruptions, but it can help remind children of the importance of listening for enjoyment.
Once Upon a Cloud (Dial Books)
Written & Illustrated by Claire Keane
For ages: 4-7
Claire Keane worked for Disney in their animation department and brings that vibrant, lively style to her debut children’s book. Little Celeste can’t stop thinking about what gift she should get for her mother. At bedtime, the Wind blows her bed into the sky like a boat, where she meets all the celestial bodies and contemplates different presents. The Stars, shown as young women in twirling skirts, coronate Celeste with a crown and sparkly shoes. The Moon, a white-beared old man, shares his many stories. The Sun, a blazing queen in the sky, shares tea with the little girl. For any of your princess/glitter-loving kiddos, Once Upon a Cloud will make a perfect bedtime read that they will want to hear repeatedly. Keane’s illustrations will be sure to pull them in from the cover.
The Wrong Side of the Bed (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
Written by Lisa Bakos
Illustrated by Anna Raff
For ages: 4-7
Lucy wakes up with tangled hair and rumpled pajamas. It only gets worse from there. As Lucy prepares for and lives through the day, she keeps encountering animals that seem to get in the way. There’s the prickly porcupine living in her bed, a bear who smears her with syrup, an elephant attempting to ride on her bike’s handlebars, and a hippo stretching out all the tutus at ballet practice. The text is centered around a growing refrain (think of “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly”) and adds each new animal intrusion into the rhyme. This is one of those immensely silly books with wonderful illustrations from Raff that bring the comical animal characters to life.
It’s Only Stanley (Dial Books)
Written & Illustrated by Jon Agee
For ages: 5-8
There’s a lot of noise happening downstairs at the Wimbledon household one night. With each sound, a family member wakes up Walter, the father, to investigate. And every time he finds the family dog Stanley up to something. At first, the dog is cooking in the kitchen, but that’s followed by him making repairs to the drains and eventually an old television. The biggest surprise comes when Stanley turns the entire house into a rocket ship headed for the moon. Jon Agee’s art here is incredibly classic, recalling the work of iconic children’s author P.D. Eastman (Are You My Mother?). Agee’s sense of humor will appeal to children who love books whose silliness builds, like Amelia Bedelia. It’s Only Stanley feels like one of those books that have been around forever and fit right in with any home or classroom library.
Snoozefest (Dial Books)
Written by Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Kristyna Litten
For ages: 5-8
This is my absolute favorite book on this list. Snoozefest is an annual sleeping festival similar to Bonnaroo or Coachella. Snuggleford Cuddlebun is a sloth and champion sleeper and is excited to attend her first Snoozefest. We explore the event through her eyes as she experiences the band Nocturnal Nesters who play lullabies. You can feast on warm milk & honey and even purchase designer PJs from Diane von Firstinbed. This is the kind of book that appeals to kids & adults through wonderfully expressive illustrations and clever puns. Snoozefest comes with my highest possible recommendation and if you only buy one of these, make it this book for sure!