Here’s a typical night at our house lately: it’s five minutes to bedtime and everyone is losing their minds.
Sometimes they are tearing through the house squealing with glee and at other times laying on the floor competing for the most epic tantrum of all time. Either way, it is clear that we are too tired to function, but too wound up to actually lay down and start the process of going to sleep.
Transitions are hard. For toddlers, they are doubly hard and so in our house we have a little stash of books which we have found to have almost magical properties. We use them only on nights like these, to aid with transitions when we seem stuck in one place and unable to get to the other. The children know these are special books and will quiet down when they see them.
Edith Hope Fein
This book is number one on my list right now simply because I just discovered it this year and I love it. Every time I open it, it makes me want to sleep. The illustrations are breathtaking. I actually sing the words of this one and my husband has fallen asleep on more than one occasion while we read this one to the kids. I am telling you. THIS BOOK has some sort of magic, I’m sure of it.
That’s When I’m Happy
The very first book I bought my daughter was this one. It’s just so sweet. The little bear in the book is reflecting on how happy the things in his life make him. Spending time with his family and cuddling in mama and daddy’s bed are on the list but also smaller things like leaves or the special bag he gathers them in, or kicking a soccer ball. I love that it reminds me of the simple hearts of children, and to calm and quiet my own heart to match their pace.
Cub’s Big World
This book is beautifully illustrated, simple and sweet and your emergent readers may be actually able to help with some of the words. As with all of the books on this list, this book lends itself to a softer, slower, and quiet tone. It’s a perfect way to calm down with gentle repetition and calm colors.
The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes
A classic from my childhood, this is the story of a humble mother bunny who gets chosen for a great task. I love it because the message is simple and beautiful and the illustrations are soft and dreamy. It affirms the dignity of motherhood in a way I haven’t yet seen in other books and reminds children that all the things we do tiny and small are important. Also….it makes them sleep.
Bread and Jam for Frances
The Frances books are another page from my childhood. The quiet, engaging atmosphere of these books always brings back tender memories for me. Frances is a little girl badger who deals with many of the same challenges as your little toddlers and preschoolers do. With the gentle help of her parents, she navigates them with wisdom and grace. This one is my favorite because I would never try new things as a little girl (just like Frances who eats only bread and jam) and my kids don’t like to either, so we all relate.
These are the ones that are working for us right now and I hope you’ll share any in the comments that work for you!
Lauren resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is a birth worker and an aspiring writer. In her spare time, she loves to work out and spend time perusing old and new bookstores.