Editor’s Note: Please welcome our newest writer, Jenny! She will be providing reviews of children’s books and starts off with bedtime board books.
One of the best investments a modern father can make is building out your child’s library. Besides chewing and page-turning, reading to your newborn, infant, or toddler is one of the easiest things you can do to help with brain development. Books also provide a great way to introduce your kids to the concept of reading, emotion, and literacy. And when it comes to bedtime, reading can calm and soothe even a newborn. When kids are too young to express preference, it’s easy to read a different book each night before bed. As they get older, however, your kids will end up with favorites. And by favorites, we mean the same book three or more times in a row.
Here are a few bedtime board books that can stand up to being thrown around, abused, drooled on, and paged through by uncoordinated hands. And a bonus: repeatedly reading them won’t annoy you, Dad.
If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul (author) and David Walker (illustrator) is a charming bedtime board book that imagines how different animals would kiss goodnight. The adorable illustrations accompany a creative rhyming text that includes animals from all over the world. The examples include both “mama” and “papa” animals and refers to the baby animals by their correct names such as calf, joey, chick, and infant. While this is a longer book for young readers, it is easily abbreviated by skipping any number of pages (just let your kiddo try out their new page turning skills for an instant abbreviation).
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (author/illustrator) is a very short and delightful bedtime board book about several animals who appear to be rooming together on a cruise ship. The book follows these animals through their nighttime routine of bathing, putting on their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and exercising (though we aren’t quite sure who actually exercises before bed, especially after their bath). The simple illustrations and text will grab the attention infants and the silly details in the illustrations will continue to delight kiddos as they grow.
Night-Night, Little Pookie is another bedtime board book by Sandra Boynton. It tells the story of a playful piglet named “Pookie” as he and his mommy go through his bedtime routine. Pookie’s bedtime adventures included some of the more playful and endearing things toddlers are likely to do as part of the routine, such picking mismatched pajamas and playing peek-a-boo under the covers. While it is a more playful approach, it ends with a series of calming kisses goodnight.
Sheep Go to Sleep by Nancy E. Shaw (author) and Margot Apple (illustrator) is one of many sequels to Sheep in a Jeep. This bedtime board book follows five sheep who are too scared to sleep. Their faithful border collie helps each sheep with their specific bedtime need as you and your kiddo count how many sheep are asleep and how many more still need help. The sheep’s requests are simple and typical of what kids would ask for (a lullaby, a hug, a drink, etc). The calm rhyming text is more fleshed out than some of the other Sheep books but we have found that leads to a more calm read as kiddos don’t necessarily feel the need to verbally explain the story as you go.
Peek-a-Boo Moon from Paragon Books is part of their “Peek-and-Explore” series. The illustrations have the feel of an elegant country scrap-book and the text is brief. This bedtime board book takes the reader through several nighttime scenes with various woodland animals as they snuggle into their homes for the night. The peek-a-boo holes are cleverly placed to advance the book (there isn’t really a story) and less coordinated hands may like turning the pages using the animal cut-outs on the top. Crawlers and early walkers love the handle on the top that makes it easier for them to bring it to an adult for story time.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman is not, as one might assume, yet another take on “Goodnight Moon.” Instead, it is the story of a mischievous gorilla who helps all the animals escape from their cages so they can follow the zookeeper home to bed. This bedtime board book is told almost exclusively through the illustrations, with text being limited to “goodnight” and the various animal names. There are a lot of fun details in each illustration to keep infant eyes curious. And as your kiddo’s language skills develop, they’ll love telling you what’s happening in each picture.
Share your favorites
Let us know in the comments or on Facebook about some of your family favorites. You can also let us know if there are other reviews you’d like to see.