Nighttime can be scary for young children. The house creaks, branches tap, faraway footsteps sound close, and shadows come to life. But nighttime can, also, be a magical time. A time when stars shine, and the moon glows. Before we settle too deeply into short days and long nights and Halloween brings out the monsters, use these books to create a relaxing, gentle feeling around nighttime so that children look forward to the sun setting each night.
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd- In this wordless book, a small boy explores his world by the light of his flashlight. The illustrations only fully show what is in the beam of the flashlight giving the book a real feeling and creating a sense of discovery with each page. Read this one by flashlight, and then take a flashlight walk around your house or yard to explore. Or better yet, if your child is up to it, let them explore on their own!
Global Baby Bedtimes Board book by Maya Ajmera- A simple board book featuring images of babies from around the world sleeping in various places. Infants love the faces in this book, and older children can appreciate that people sleep in many different places and kinds of beds.
Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger- An extremely sweet and gentle story about Grandfather Twilight who brings the moon to the sky in the evening. It sets the tone for a relaxing and calm evening. Enjoy with a cup of chamomile tea and a teddy bear while you watch the moon rise with your child. Beautiful, soft watercolors help set the mood, and with minimal text it is perfect for the youngest children. One my children's favorites when they were young!
It Is the Wind by Ferida Wolff and James Ransome- A child listens to the sounds around him at night, and although they scare him, he tries to identify which each one really is. A wonderful book for helping child confront the sounds at night that scare them. Play the listening game at night in their room by trying to identify all the night sounds around you.
The Moon by Seymour Simon- Explore the science of the moon, as well as what causes its phases. Beautiful photographs illustrate each phase of the moon, and add dimension to the book. After reading it, spend a month tracking the moon and encourage your child to create a moon journal where they draw what each phase looks like and dictate to you something they observed about the moon that night. Once the journal is done, read it back to them! As an aside, they don't need to draw anything that looks exactly like what they are seeing. The purpose of this activity is to help them observe, to begin to understand symbolic thinking, and to link the written work with what we say or see.
The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon by Nancy Willard and David McPhail- Tired of being in the sky, the moon sneaks down to earth to find the perfect nightgown. Once she finds it, she falls asleep leaving the people of the world calling out for her light which makes her realize she is needed, but still once a month she takes a night off to sleep in her flannel nightgown.
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein- A young boy follows his cat out into the yard at night in anticipation of seeing something that the cat only hints at: "It's almost here." At the end, the two sit and watch as the sun rises. A reassuring book that day always follows night. Use it discuss the cycle of the day, as well as why there are no colors at night.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen- A father takes his daughter out on a cold, snowy evening to looking for owls. This book powerfully illustrates the connection between a father and his daughter, as well as being a wonderful adventure that will inspire you to go on your own nighttime adventure in the woods with your child.
Piggies by Don and Audrey Wood- Ten little piggies get ready from bed. They start out as muddy little piggies, get soapy, and give a kiss goodnight. A great bedtime read for infants through preschoolers who will enjoy the silliness!
Tell Me About Your Day Today by Mem Fox- As a child falls asleep, each of his stuffed animals tells about their day and how despite challenges, everything turned out alright. A great book for starting a conversation about how your days went, but how in the end everything was OK!
What's Under My Bed by James Stevenson- Two children visit their Grandpa where he reminisces about his nighttime fears as a child. As he names each scary sound or sight, they tell him what it really was. Similar to It Is the Wind, this is a very reassuring book that will help your child listen to sounds in the night and hear what is really there. This book is also perfect for having your child predict what will come next. After the Grandpa names his fear ask your child what they really think it is and then read how the grandchildren respond. Expand on this book further by making shadow pictures with your child.
As always, I hope you enjoy these books and feel free to comment on the blog, or with your favorite books about nighttime!
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