Wrapping up the day by reading to your children near a reading light doesn’t just create a comforting ritual, it also boosts their grasp of language, lowers their stress levels, improves their ability to learn, and gives them a positive memory of reading, which can turn them into readers when they get older. But what books are the best? These five titles—some classic, some newer—will settle your little ones down and get their eyelids drooping.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: This book has been around for more than 60 years and has become the classic nighttime book. The premise is simple: Go around a room and say goodnight to everything you see—a picture, some socks, kittens, and, yes, the moon. The rhythm of the words will lull anyone to sleep.
I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt: Do you think your children ask a lot of questions? They have nothing on the little boy in this story. It starts out with a mom putting her son to sleep, and turns into a series of increasingly silly questions about if his mom would still love him if he were transformed into things like a big scary ape or super stinky skunk. The answer, every time, is: of course she would.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen: Your child already knows how humans say goodnight, but what about a triceratops or a Tyrannosaurus rex? This funny read gives some important insight into the bedtime behaviors of these huge reptiles.
Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton: This story follows a flock of sheep that turn in for the night. One of them, a very-awake Russell, just can’t seem to fall asleep. He tries things like making it darker, cooling himself down, replacing his pillow, and more. At the end of the book, finally, he falls asleep—just as all the other sheep are waking up!
If Animals Kissed Good Night, by Ann Whitford Paul: One page describes how a giraffe mom and her baby kiss each other goodnight (with necks stretched way up towards the sky) while another how a mommy peacock and her baby do it (by spreading their tails wide and dancing around the room). Every species has its own secret way of kissing goodnight, and you can end the reading by giving your kid your own special kiss.