Category Archives: bedtime

Margaret Wise Brown was a Champion for Reading to Children

Goodnight Moon“Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown, may be the most recognizable children’s bedtime book in America. With its bold green, red, blue, and yellow illustrations by Clement Hurd, the whimsical story has seen many children to sleep. More than 14 million copies of the book have been sold since it was published in 1947.

The book begins, “In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of … the cow jumping over the moon.” This isn’t a story with a plot, but instead is the description of a bedtime ritual told through the eyes of a child, written by a woman who never really grew up herself.

Margaret Wise Brown was born in New York City in 1910 and died in 1952 at only 42 years old from complications from a surgical procedure. Brown never married or had children of her own but lived a life full of a magical reality.

She acted like a character in her own storybook: She spent her first earnings as an author on an entire flower cart full of flowers. In a Paris hotel, she brought giant orange trees and live birds into her room. On the island of Vinalhaven, Maine, she had a house she called “The Only House” where she kept a nightstand outside with a mirror nailed to a tree and stored eggs and butter in her well. Once she gave an illustrator two puppies to use as models but the pups licked off all the paint on the newly created paper illustrations!

There were times of frustration, but Brown wrote prolifically, with over 100 children’s books published in her lifetime. Many stories she would dream and then quickly write down in the mornings. Among her most well known books are “The Runaway Bunny” (1942), “Little Fur Family” (1946),“The Color Kittens” (1949), and “Big Red Barn” (1956). She wrote an additional 70 manuscripts, which went unpublished.

“Brownie,” as she was known to friends, had a gift for understanding a child’s thoughts and concerns and wrote about the common place with child-like wonder. She loved to create rhythm in her stories by using rhyming words and repeating word patterns. She often builds anticipation by leaving off the last word of a sentence so you have to turn the page to find out how it ends.

Margaret Wise Brown was a champion for reading to children. In her own words, “[A book] can jog [a child] with the unexpected and comfort him with the familiar, lift him for a few minutes from his own problems of shoelaces that won’t tie, and busy parents and mysterious clock time, into the world of a bug or a bear or a bee or a boy living in the timeless world of a story.”

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Make Read-Aloud Part of Your Child’s Bedtime Routine

The cooler nights of autumn are perfect for reading in a warm cozy bed with your children. After they have changed into nightclothes, brushed teeth, picked out stuffed animal friends, and are tucked into bed, share books with them and enjoy some one-on-one time together. Make books a regular part of your children’s bedtime routine and they may even look forward to going to bed.

For young children choose picture books that are soothing and put them in the mood for sleep. There are many stories that tell about a busy day that leads to a slowing down and a “good night.” There are books that talk about the bedtime routine. And there are humorous books about trying to get to sleep. Snuggle up and enjoy some stories together every bedtime! Here are some books to try:


“When Mama Come Home Tonight” by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Jane Dyer. A rhyming book with the rhythm of a lullaby, this story is soft and gentle. A toddler thinks of all the wonderful things that happen with mama when she comes home from work after a busy day.

“Good Night Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann. This is an almost wordless book that stars a little gorilla at a zoo. When the zookeeper is closing up the zoo, he doesn’t realize that a little gorilla is opening all the animals’ cages as soon as the zookeeper tells each animal “good night.”

“Snoozers: 7 Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids” and “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton are both in board book format for the youngest listeners. Short, humorous stories with Boynton animal characters will become family favorites.

“Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo” by Kevin Lewis, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk. The story begins with the sun rising and ends when it sets. During the sun’s arc in the sky, a little train is bustling up and down mountains and through tunnels. He finally winds down to a slow pace and rests at the end of the day.

“Kiss Good Night” by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram. Mrs. Bear put Sam to bed but the wind and rain outside keeps him awake. Does Sam need a cup of milk, a hug, or a book? What can help him get to sleep?

Saturday, September 28, 6:30-7pm, listen to bedtime stories read aloud by Family Reading Partnership executive director, Brigid Hubberman, at the Tompkins County Public Library, for the library’s Read-a-thon. Books will be read aloud starting at 6am until midnight as a fundraiser for TCPL. Learn more and donate to a reader at:

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September 26, 2013 · 11:03 am

Bedtime is Better with Books

There are many excuses your youngster can come up with for not going to bed. Thirsty, too dark, worried about monsters, too many wiggles, the wrong pajamas, or just not tired (or so your child may think!). No wonder so many children’s books end with a good night scene. Winding down and finally sleeping is something all parents are trying to encourage, for a well-rested child the next day and for parents to have some quiet time of their own.

Consistent routines help make bedtime easier. An hour before “lights out,” intentionally do quieter activities with your child. Then go through the same steps each night to help your child prepare for sleep. Maybe brush teeth, change into PJs, pick out a stuffed animal friend to bring to bed, and definitely read books!

Reading a few books at bedtime can ease the transition from play to sleep and give you and your child some “snuggle time” together. Try some books of these books about bedtime and send me the titles of your family’s bedtime favorites at:

“Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney covers all the possible reasons that your own little llama won’t go to bed. When it becomes a loud “llama-drama,” mama steps in and reassures her child that it’s going to be all right. Young children will love the real-life concerns about going to bed and the comforting resolution by the mom.

“Shadow Night” by Kay Charao. A boy is frightened of the shadows in his room until his parents show him how to make hand shadows. His dad tells a story using all the animals his hands can make like spiders, snail, birds, and finally a boy shadow monster!

“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed” by Helen Cooper. A boy is trying to go to sleep during the summer, but it’s still light outside when it’s bedtime. It’s hard to sleep! He goes on an imaginary journey in his toy car, past all the toys in his room, which have become large and interactive. His toy train, stuffed lion, and model castle are all life-sized and as fun as an amusement park. Finally, after his toyland adventure, he falls off to sleep.

“The Squeaky Door” retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, pictures by Mary Newell DePalma. This is a very funny story about a boy staying overnight at his grandma’s house.  Grandma has a surprise for her grandson. On this visit he gets to sleep in the big brass bed all by himself! But, it is a little scary in the big bed, in the dark, with a squeaky door. Grandma tries to comfort him with the cat, the dog, and more animals–until the bed breaks!

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Filed under bedtime, children's books, family reading