In case you somehow missed the most important holiday of the year, Happy (belated) National Book Lover's Day! This special day is celebrated annually on August 9th. Although I scoured the Internet looking for some sort of history behind the holiday, I found nada. So much for the whys and wherefores of National Book Lover's Day. Oh well. I've never needed an officially-sanctioned reason to read, have you?
The folks over at Casper—a sleep startup that has created one perfect mattress—believe that bedtime is the best time. They also realize how much better it is to rely on stories to help ease you into sleep rather than doing something lame and ineffective like counting sheep. They've even got a hotline that reads bedtime stories to the listener! To share the bedtime story love (and because they just know how to party), the folks at Casper are celebrating National Book Lover's Day all week long. Fun! They asked me to participate by writing up a little somethin' about bedtime stories I love to read. How could I resist?
It's been a *little* while since I've had a bedtime story read to me by my mother, but not very long (last night) since I read one. I know the point of spinning tales before bed is to help children drift off to sleep. There are many wonderful picture books that do just that with their soft rhythms, whimsical illustrations, and affirming morals. I love gentle stories like Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd; The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood; I'll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw), but the books I never tire of reading to my kids are more of the "wild rumpus" variety. My favorites offer upbeat tempos, exciting adventures, and lines that make listeners squeal with delighted laughter. Although these kinds of stories tend to perk kids up rather than slow them down, they remain the best kind, in my humble, bedtime story-loving opinion.
Because my oldest child is 16 and my youngest only 6, I can tell you which nighttime tales have endured in our household. The following five have been enjoyed by all four of my children as well as their book-obsessed mother:
1. The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss—These zany books have stood the test of time, not just at my house, but throughout the world.
2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault—There was a time when I knew this one by heart. I'd recite it when my toddlers were restless in the car as well as at their bedtime. It's a fun book that teaches the alphabet while making kids smile with its lively cadence.
3. We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen—Not only is this one a joy to read, but it captures kids' imaginations with its dream-like illustrations and dramatic adventure story.
4. Click Clack Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin—This book is hilarious. 'Nuf said.
5. Anything written or illustrated by Eric Carle—My kids have all loved listening to Carle classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (by Bill Martin, Jr.); and The Mixed-Up Chameleon. More recently, my youngest's favorites are: 10 Little Rubber Ducks; Dream Snow; and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.
Reading to your children is essential, not just for their intellectual development, but also for their emotional well-being. Is there a time when young kids feel more loved than when they're cocooned in their beds, receiving the direct attention of a busy parent, who has paused for a moment to read a favorite story? I don't think so. No matter how ridiculous you feel tripping over your tongue reading a nonsensical Dr. Seuss story, creating silly voices to amuse your pint-sized audience, or half-snoozing through yet another recitation of The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, do it anyway. These precious moments won't last forever; cherish them while you can.
So, what are your favorite bedtime stories? Which books did your parents/grandparents read to you? Which do you enjoy with your own children/grandchildren?
Also, be sure to check out more great recommendations on the Casper mattress Twitter page!
(Book images from Barnes & Noble; bedtime story painting by Gary Daly)
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