How to Bring More Joy to Bedtime Stories

OK, Moms.  Let’s talk truth about bedtime stories.  This is the time that everyone says is supposed to be cozy and cuddly and comforting. This is the time when kids are supposed to wind down and relax, gently drifting off to sleep as you whisper the final words of the book, right?

bedtime stories

So, what happens when your precious little one is jumping up and down on the bed while you try to read the words on the page despite the bumps and jars?  What happens when you are at the end of your rope and you just cannot fathom reading Goodnight Moon one more time without pulling your hair out?  We’ve all been there, tired mama.  You are not alone.

Yes, sometimes bedtime stories are perfect, idyllic almost, with smiles and whispers and gently drooping eyelids.  But on some nights, real life strikes, and it’s just not like that.  I have some book suggestions for you that will help you weather those nights.  These books should become standbys at your house.   Some are sweet.  Others are cute.  Most are funny.  All will bring a smile to your face on weary, patience-straining nights (or at least get you through without screaming).  🙂

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For the Youngest Kids (0-3)

Scroll further for titles recommended for kids older than three plus a bonus related post!  Stormee the Ostrich Gets the Hic-hiccups

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak

This book is sweet.  It goes through all the ways you love your child…their happy side, their mad side, their silly side, their sad side.  Kids love the silliness that is infused in the story.  The simple, rhyming declaration of love will soften your heart on even the most stressful of evenings.  

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

This book is a classic and it is fun to read!  The repeating phrases are hard to read without chanting or singing.  The book is full of a family’s action-packed journey.  As they go on a bear hunt, they encounter all sorts of obstacles.  You and your child will enjoy the drama and fun sound to the book.

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton

Children will enjoy the rhyming verses and rhythmic sound to the story.  The book shows a parent dog telling a puppy all the ways that he/she is loved.  The message is sweet and sure to warm your heart.  The words are fun to read aloud.  This book is sure to be a hit!

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney

Hugs of all kinds are the topic of this silly, rhyming book.  Kids enjoy the silly examples of hugs, from giant bear hugs to slimy fish hugs.  You will get a smile from the sweet message and imaginative humor.  This book is a sure win for even the most draining of nights.

I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

This book may have a humorous title, and there definitely is some humor in it, but the message of the story is about unconditional love.  The book shows a boy asking his mother questions over and over, about whether or not she will love him even if he is something scary or stinky or gross…a skunk, a swamp creature, etc.  Kids will love the humorous examples; your heart may be warmed by the message that a mother lover her child no matter what.


For the Older Kids

Press Here by Herve Tullet

I struggled with which category to place this in because I think both younger and older kids will enjoy it!  This book takes a different approach to storytelling; it involved the reader right from the beginning!  Readers press dots, tilt pages, shake the book, etc.  As this is done, the dots seem to magically change!  They grow, shrink, multiply, you name it!  Kids and adults love the imaginative adventure this book provides!

Little Critter Books by Mercer Mayer

OK…so this is a series of books.  I could not pick just one!  Some of my family’s favorites include I Just Forgot, Just a Mess, and Just Go To Bed, but you truly cannot go wrong with any of the books in this series.  The main character (whatever type of animal he may be!) is cute and lovable and kids will relate to his struggles.  Parents will enjoy the humor and messages of the books.  Bonus…your child can search for the mouse on each page!

Pigeon Books by Mo Willems

Again, this is a series of books.  All of the titles are great!  My family personally likes Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.  The pigeon in these stories is humorous because his actions often resemble the actions of young children.  These actions will make children grin in recognition and you chuckle in understanding.  You will enjoy reading these books multiple times!

If You Give… Series by Laura Joffe Numeroff

The stories in this series are great because they are circular in nature.  An animal is given something (like a cookie in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie).  This action leads to another (then he will want a…) and another and another, eventually leading back to the initial action.  Even after children recognize that, they will enjoy trying to anticipate how one action leads to another.  Humor and cuteness abound in these stories.  They can be read multiple times with enjoyment!

Diary of a… Series by Doreen Cronin

Why not stick with the series theme?  These Diary of a… books are both smart and funny.  They encourage children to see the world with a new perspective.  My family enjoys Diary of a Worm, a story about the everyday life of a worm…going to school, doing homework, even arguing with his sister.  Cleverness and humor infuse the entire book!

May all of your bedtime stories be full of sweet cuddles, hushed whispers, and drooping eyelids!  But…for the rest of the nights, may this list give you the power to make it through!

Best of luck, tired mama.  While we all strive for perfect bedtimes, please know that you are not alone when it is just not happening.

Related Post: Stormee the Ostrich Gets the Hic-hiccups


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