I own eight bedtime books. Granted, ANY book is perfect for bedtime. But the eight I have are precious to my heart, as I have read them numerous times to each of my children. Here they are, and why I love them.
Wishes for You by Tobi Tobias, illustrated by Henri Sorensen
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Sparse text. A mother talks to her baby about all her wishes for him: to have shining moments of happiness, to have strength for hard times, lucky, curious, silly, adventurous, industrious, healthy, kind, loving, different, "love being alone sometimes," think for yourself, "always remember me." It goes through all these wishes that every mother has, and includes different children, families, and grandparents. Lovely illustrations, too.
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2003
Rhyming text. If kisses were colors, pebbles, comets, flowers, raindrops, acorns, snowflakes, and blankets. The mother makes these comparisons as she expresses her love for her baby. The text encourages hand motions (at least for me, it did - but I also did hand motions a bit with Chicka Chicka ABC), and lots of kisses. The illustrations are FABULOUS! The art was created using alkyd oil paint on paper with crackling varnish. The pictures are old-timey and take you back to an era reminiscent of the 30's, 40's, and 50's (at least in my mind). I also love the juxtaposition of the opposing images on each spread. For example, "If kisses were pebbles, your beach would be lined" is on the left hand side with a giant pebble with arms, legs, and a face. On the right hand side, "with stones by the millions, of all shapes and kinds." The picture is of an elephant and a penguin picking up pebbles from a beach, and that picture is outlined with pebbles all around the edges. Makes it a very enjoyable read time and time again.
Mommy's Best Kisses by Margaret Anastas, illustrated by Susan Winter
HarperCollins Publishers, 2003
Rhyming text. Baby animals give kisses to their young in different ways: "reach for my face...neck - it's my favorite place...five fingers that squeeze mine so tight...strong arms and you squeal with delight." And on and on, until at bedtime it encourages, "And tomorrow we'll start all over again." My favorite page is the one where the little boy is sleeping in his bed, snuggled up to all his stuffed animals (the same animals the book showed giving kisses earlier). Very cute. Definitely encourages lots of kisses, and teaching body parts, too.
Because You Are My Baby by Sherry North, illustrated by Marcellus Hall
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008
Lists wonderful ways a parent, whether a rock star or a geologist, could demonstrate love for a child. Rhyming text. My favorite line is: "If I were a gardener, I would plant a trumpet vine, With blooms that croon a jazzy tune whenever you pass by." I love that it still got printed even though it's a near rhyme (vine/by). I also love the internal rrhymes of the second line (bloooms/croon/tune). Just lovely. The illustrations are beautiful watercolor on paper. I like how the texture of the paper is visible, too.
To Everything by Bob Barner
Chronicle Books, 1998
Presents an illustrated version of the verse in Ecclesiastes which states that there is a time for everything, including a time to be born and a time to die. The illustrations are rendered in paper collage, using bright and bold colors. My son's favorite page is the lion, "A time for love, a time for anger." My favorite is the lightning bugs, "A time to hold, a time to let go." Lots of animals. Beautiful!
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
Dial Books for Readers, 2005
Goes through the four verses of the song. If you love the song, you'll love the book. Illustrations are awesome! Mixture of pencil, oil, and watercolor. Kadir created the kid drawings in the book by using his left hand with colored pencils. My favorite image is for this text "He's got the sun and the rain in His hands." The little boy is standing out in the rain wearing his bright yellow rainslicker jacket. Red umbrella on the ground. Rain pouring down on him and bouncing off his face. He's looking upward to the sky with his eyes squinted closed and smiling real big. You can even see the sun reflecting off his face. Perfect juxtaposition of sun and rain! Obviously, encourages singing!
All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander, illustrated by Anna Vojtech
A Cheshire Studio Book, North-South Books, 2004
Beautifully illustrates this popular hymn. Has lots of animals. Shows nature and the seasons. There are also two little mice on every spread. It's fun to find them. Encourages singing. This is a favorite.
If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1997
Gentle prose. Simply describes how various baby animals come into the world and what happens when a human baby is born. Encourages discussion of life, animals, pregnancy, babies, and birth, even counting! Beautiful illustrations of dry pastel on dark gray pastel paper, with lots of realistic detail. Lots of fun animals included are the elephant, seahorse, porcupine, bear, snake, possum, cat, chicken, whale, and frog. Very precious.
What's YOUR favorite bedtime book?