For example, after baths and toothbrushing, perhaps gather all the kids in the family room or in Mom and Dad's bed, or in one child's bedroom for 15 minutes of reading aloud together. Or make a habit of spending 15 minutes reading with a different child in bed each night. Find a routine that works for your family, and then don't be afraid to change it as your kids grow. Here's a look at some of the best-loved bedtime reads that you and your children might enjoy.
Very small children love the nearly-wordless story Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. The story is told through beautifully detailed pictures, and you and your child can take turns narrating and pointing out the treats on each page. For a more traditional bedtime story, try Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon. It also features fun details to pick out on each page, but the story's singsong rhythm may be what some children need at the end of the day. Sandra Boynton's Going to Bed Book helps reinforce the idea of bedtime routine, which helps many children feel more settled.
Slightly older children will enjoy the Dr. Seuss books. Start with The Cat in the Hat and work up to longer stories like Yertle the Turtle. Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book is a longish story, but it is a nice choice for a child who won't make you read multiple books and who has the attention span to listen. Also try Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends – you can read a few poems each night, or let the kids pick their favorites and recite them from memory.
For early elementary children who can remember the plot points of a story from one night to the next, consider reading a chapter each night to complete a story over the course of a week or two. Some excellent books are E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Older elementary children will enjoy Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden or Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. Or, if your kids enjoyed the movies, work your way through the Harry Potter series. If your child resists being read to but can't quite get through these books on his own, check out the audiobook versions. You can put them on an MP3 player and let your kids listen for 15 to 30 minutes before bed.
Bedtime reading is a soothing way to end the day. And once you see how much your kids enjoy it, you may want to give it a try for yourself.
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