Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Books Before Bed

Getting three kids to sleep can take a while (sometimes 90 minutes when I am doing it solo), especially because I am kind of a softie when it comes to pleas of "one more book" or "one more chapter."  Without boring you with the details of our household's various bedtime rituals, I wanted to share the bedtime books being enjoyed in each child's bedroom this week.

The ritual begins with my lovely daughter, on the cusp of turning four.  Earlier this winter, she was obsessed with Bridget's Beret, an adorable children's book by Tom Lichtenheld -- this story of a young artist captured the heart of my little artist.  Last week, she punished me with repeated requests for Angelina Ballerina The Shining Star Trophy.  This week, we brought our two Little Critter anthologies up to her room.  We're both enjoying revisiting these old favorites.  Mercer Mayer's beautiful and clever illustrations, his sense of humor, and his candid but ultimately positive depiction of childhood appeals to little critters and their parents.

Tip:  Collections that include multiple children's books inside one cover make great gifts and make it easier to decide on "just one more" book at bedtime.

My middle guy, age five, is supposed to read me a couple of stories as one part of his bedtime routine.  We try to read from the Superkids stories that are part of his school's reading program.  I love Superkids, but he is not always feeling it (to say the least) so we are trying to move his reading practice time to earlier in the day.  I got out of the habit of reading chapter books to him at bedtime because I'd had a little too much Junie B. (which had been his choice for a while -- I am not anti-Junie B., mind you, just was needing a break).  When my oldest was in kindergarten, I read him all of the Beverly Clearly books that featured Henry Huggins, Ramona, and Beezus.
We're reading my copy from the 80s!

So, my middle guy and I are halfway through Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary.  I cannot say enough good things about this book for little boys.  The book was originally published in 1950 (the same year my parents were born), and there are (enjoyable) lessons to be learned from childhood in an earlier era. Can Henry have a dog?  Sure, but he has to take complete responsibility for Ribsy and use his own money for his license, flea collar, food, and dog bowl.  (Side note:  Henry also walks to the butcher on his own to buy horse meat for Ribsy).  Can Henry care for thousands of guppies in his bedroom?  Sure, but he'll learn about research and responsibility as he does it.  How about when Henry is tossing football with his neighbor Scooter and accidentally throws Scooter's football inside a passing car?  The football is gone.  Scooter wants a replacement.  It costs almost $14 (which must have been a fortune in 1950).  I can see my 2014 self saying to my son, "It's okay, it's only $14.  We can replace it.  Don't stress about it."  And by "we," I would mean "me."  Henry does not go straight to his parents with this issue.  He takes stock of his funds and brainstorms how he will pay for a new football.   When his neighbor gives him a chance to dig night crawlers for fishing bait and agrees to pay him ONE CENT per worm, Henry literally digs in and finds enough worms to buy the new football.  When he is still digging worms past dark, his parents join him at the public park (where he's been alone with his dog Ribsy -- different era) and help him finish the job.  They help him help himself.  Lessons here for my son and for me!  
 I will be forever charmed by Louis Darling's illustration of Mrs. Huggins,
the proper 1950's housewife, digging for night crawlers!

Last stop on the bedtime express is my oldest, eight years old and a READER!  As he waits for me to make my way to his room, he reads.  When I arrive, he tells me about what he has read and sometimes I give him a little more reading time as I read my own book on my phone.  He received a Roald Dahl box set for Christmas and just inhaled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Along with Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, which we read together last year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my most beloved childhood books that I never owned.  I regularly checked it out of our little school library.  What a joy to see him enjoy this book!  Plus, I finally have an appreciative audience for my Veruca Salt impression.  The Gene Wilder version of the movie, 40th anniversary edition, is on sale at Target for four bucks this week.  We are looking forward to a movie night this weekend.

Our days are busy, our house is messy, and there is always plenty I need and want to do downstairs, but I never regret time spent with my kids on books before bed.  

What are the current and/or all-time favorite books before bed in your house?  Please share!

1 comment:

  1. I am really bad about reading at bedtime...really bad. My oldest learned to read early and we never had to work at it...but I really should spend more time with her. And my Megan could definitely benefit from more of me reading and her reading. That being said...I've been enjoying the Humphrey books about the hamster in the classroom. From what I can tell after 2 books, seems to teach that there is more to a kid than just their school behavior.