What is cooler than the night? Particularly for a kid. Which makes bedtime books about the night something to really delight in at tuck-in time.
When I was in my twenties and could go to bed at 4 a.m. and sleep until noon, an older friend advised me that this was a temporary state. As I grew older, my body would adjust according to the larger patterns of the sun and the planet Earth.
And being a typical twenty-something, I dismissed her caution. Eventually I learned a few weeks after accepting a restaurant management job, she was right. I was exhausted. My body was waking me up at 7 AM even if I went to bed at 1 AM.
Our inner clocks shift during different times of our lives and – if we live far away from the equator – recalibrate according to seasons. We sleep in later during our teens, wake up earlier in the morning during spring and summer, for example. Doctors who are sleep experts acknowledge that this is one of many mysteries of sleep.
Don’t you love that scientists accept mysteries?
The other day, I found myself so happy – I mean inside, basic, primal happy like when you anticipate a great warm meal after a morning of working outside – when dusk fell around 4:45. I remembered my friend’s observation, and wondered “Does this mean I’m getting old…like really old?”
But the softness of the early dark, touched an even earlier memory of happiness. I can remember feeling this way about nightfall as a young child. It was a restorative time – family meal, dad home from work, conversations, and getting lost in a book.
The opening of the poem “The Truce of Night” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, best known for Anne of Green Gables, sums up this anticipation of peaceful night:
Lo, it is still,
Save for the wind of the hill,
And the luring, primeval sounds that fill
The moist and scented air
‘Tis the truce o’ night, away with unrest and care!
There are times we don’t acknowledge our own and our children’s need for accepting mystery, slowing down, and enjoying the soft truce of night. Similarly, my daughter has always loved rainy days. And I’ve known children who love being with adults in silence. We must have the night to enjoy the day. There is a yin to all of life’s yang.
Fortunately, there are lullabies, poems, stories, and a host of picture books that explore the night for little ones. Here’s a list of 5 bedtime picture books that embrace the peace of nighttime and might not be as well-known as others – but worth reading none the less.
1. Together We Sleep, Laura Koniver, M.D.
Dr. Laura Koniver, The Intuition Physician, understands the mystery as well as the science of sleep. The copy on the back says it all “All over the world, families sleep together – they reconnect at night.”
2. A Book of Sleep, Il Sung Na
Beautiful illustrations as we follow an owl who observes all the animals going to sleep in their natural habitats.
3. Little Night, Yuyi Morales
Little Night hides from Mother Sky as she prepares Little Night for bedtime. Mexican artist Yuyi Morales has made the home tuck-in time universal with her magical paintings.
4. In a Blue Room, Jim Averbeck with illustrations by Tricia Tusa
Alice is an independent girl who cannot get to sleep. Alice’s mother wisely reconnects Alice with the night…and the beautiful blue moon.
5. The Sound of Day, The Sound of Night, Mary O’Neill with pictures by Cynthia Jabar
A rhyming romp through the day and night of a family greeting the newest member and mom – bringing the baby home during the day, and everyone sleeping at night. Delightful and gives children the opportunity to perceive the patterns of day and night through sound and expanded vocabulary.
Get the Bedtime Blueprint so you know when to start bedtime reading…and schedule your days for peaceful nights.