Your little one is fresh from the bath, tucked into her pyjamas and cuddling up for a bedtime story (or two, or three!). All of those fun, active books you enjoy reading during the day are wonderful, but not so great when you want your child to settle down for sleep. Bedtime is a quiet, calming time and there are plenty of bedtime-themed books on the market to reflect this.
Independent bookshop owner Paul Macdonald says most bedtime books are designed to relax your little one and prepare her for sleep. “Many soothe rather than hype the child up,” he says. “Books like Good Night Me by Andrew Daddo and Time For Bed by Mem Fox have quieter colour palettes, lyrical language and a gentleness about them.” But while bedtime books may calm an energetic tot, you don’t necessarily have to stick to this formula. “It really depends on the child,” says Paul. “With my own children I didn’t make the distinction between night and day books. I just read them books they enjoyed. It’s better to find out what your child likes and work with that.”
If they love humour, he says, there are books like Pants by Giles Andreae. If they like sound, the Hairy Maclary books by Lynley Dodd are great read-alouds. “Some children enjoy finding things in illustrations or touch-and-feel books.”
Paul says what children are ultimately soothed by is re-reading a book again and again… and again. “A key element with children’s books is that kids do have their favourites,” he says. “I think familiarity for some kids at night-time is really nice and that, in itself, is relaxing.”
It’s also about time spent together. “What children love about storytime is the time and the routine of reading with a parent,” says Paul. “I think you can worry about picking the right book, and yes, it’s great to try to find the best ones to suit your child but really, at the end of the day, it’s the quality time you spend together that’s the key.”