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Bedtime challenges are one thing that most families face from time to time. Reading books about anything that your family may be facing is such a great way to talk about it when emotions are calm. These books about bedtime challenges make me feel normal. I hope at least one may really help you too!
Looking for Sleepy by Maribeth Boelts is a perfect bedtime book. I really think it’s brilliant. It probably wouldn’t jump off the bookshelf to me while browsing at the book store. However, someone gave it to me and I’m happy it ended up in our hands. The book is about a little bear and his papa bear getting ready for bed. They go through their bedtime routine, starting by looking for sleepy hiding under toys, in the bath, in his PJs, in the bedtime stories, etc…
I love the dad in this book. I love how he’s patient and kind and the illustration on the page where they are reading in bed and his toddler’s hand is awkwardly on his head cracks me up. My favorite part though is that when the toddler asks Papa to stay a little longer while he falls asleep Papa does. I enjoy books about bedtime challenges that are reassuring and provide a sense of security for young children. This does that with ease. Awesome book!
I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed (Charlie and Lola)by Lauren Child is a story about Lola who will not go to bed easily. Charlie her older brother has been asked to help his parents and get her to bed and Lola makes him work for it. She is full of imaginative ways to stall the inevitable and Charlie plays along all the while trying to stay one step ahead of his little sister. Kids love Charlie and Lola because they are absurd and funny and if you can read it to them in a British accent it’s even funnier.
Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill is an absolutely fantastic story about a little girl who needs to count sheep to get to sleep but there is one big problem the sheep are too tired to jump. They promise her to find replacements but animal after animal is just not working out. I laughed out loud at many pages of this book ( especially the chickens) and my daughter loved it even if she didn’t get all the layers of humor. Very sweet book.
Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban is a classic. Frances and her very loving mom and dad are struggling with bedtime. She goes to bed but then keeps getting out of bed with reason after reason as to why she can’t sleep. The start of this story is really sweet and her parents were kind and gentle with her trying to alleviate her fears without fixing everything for her. As the evening wears on and her parents go to bed themselves their patience is tested.
Now I am not a fan of spanking and I have never spanked my kids so I had to explain to them what a spanking was and why Frances didn’t want one. I don’t think that you should avoid this book if you are ideologically against spanking. I think it’s a great opportunity to talk about different discipline techniques and a chance to talk about frustration and sleep when you aren’t frustrated because your kids can’t sleep.
Snowbaby Could Not Sleep by Kara LaReau is a sweet winter-themed story about a little Snowbaby that simply can not get to sleep. He counts snowflakes, his Snowmama gets him extra snow because he was too hot and still he can’t sleep. What finally gives him enough comfort is when his parents make him his very own Snowpuppy to snuggle all night long.
I like gentle books like this because as a child I had terrible nighttime anxiety and as a mom have always been very gentle at bedtime until I knew my kids felt secure enough to handle each new stage of nighttime independence. My toddler, who is 2, loves this book and other comforting books about bedtime challenges.
Mortimer (Classic Munsch) by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book. It’s not the calmest and is pretty funny so you may want to read this one before some more chill books. But it’s so cute I couldn’t leave it off my list. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, whether to a group of preschoolers or to my son. I have never had a child not sing along with Mortimer who is driving everyone bonkers by not going to sleep! Instead, he is singing and making noise and not even the police can stop him!
Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth doesn’t help. Instead, he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed. The illustration of Otto as a superhero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.
Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root is hilarious especially if you like me start the night in the bed with just your spouse and wake up with the whole family in your bed. The family in the book is asleep all in their own beds. As the night wears on, each child comes in. When the dog does, the bed simply can’t hold. My kids liked this book but I loved it. It spoke to me. Especially the bit about the dad sleeping through each child waking up and the mom welcoming them with open arms. That is our family exactly. You will all giggle at the funny sleeping positions too.
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea is such a great book for toddlers. Dinosaur is a tornado full of energy much like a 2-year-old and attacks each event in his day with serious gusto. When it’s time for bed, he roars through bath and toothbrushing. Then, he just roars like mad when it’s time for bed. Much like my little dinosaurs, he eventually gets sleepy. Unlike the rest of the day, bedtime wins and he falls asleep. My kids love all the Dinosaur Vs. books and I do too. They are fun, simple and if you can manage a loud gruff voice, it’s even more fun to read.
Whimsical books about bedtime challenges sometimes change the mood.
I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes is a story about a tiger who refuses to go to bed. His mom decides to let him stay up. Little tiger goes around to all his friends and asks them to play. Sadly, they are all getting ready for bed or already asleep. The jungle isn’t nearly as fun at night as he thought and it’s much colder too! He’s getting scared when he finds a new friend who takes him home just in time to fall asleep. My son liked this book and so did I. It addresses a child’s feeling of missing out on fun. It also explains the reality, which is that they aren’t missing out on anything at all.
Jake Stays Awake by Michael Wright made both my husband and I laugh hysterically. My son enjoyed the book but we loved it. It’s about a little boy who can’t sleep without his parents. But they don’t like sleeping with feet in their faces. Can you relate? We can, which is why we found this book so funny.
What I liked was that Jake wasn’t disciplined for wanting to sleep with his parents. They were just being honest that it wasn’t working anymore. They tried so many different places hoping a change of venue would help. My son loved the page where they slept in garbage cans. I loved that Jake looked about 12. It gave me hope that my son may sleep alone by puberty.
Do you have any favorite books about bedtime challenges?
We love Charlie and Lola! I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go To Sleep was our first of the series and it is adorable! My daughter can recite it word for word!