This list come from Rachel, our children’s librarian based at Central Library.
We read to our 18 month old daughter every night before bed. Some nights she’ll close the front cover after one page and other nights she’ll cry for more after four stories, either way is fine. We have been reading to her since the day she was born and she loves books, in fact they are her favourite toy. Bedtime stories don’t have to be about going to sleep and some of the nicest picture books to curl up with when you’re winding down before sleep aren’t. The one thing my list of favourites has in common is a gentle rhythmic text that flows well, often with a lovely positive message. Over the months we have found a selection of favourites and this is our list of top 10 stories at bedtime that are great for the adult as well as the child. In no particular order:
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
This Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler combo is definitely underrated compared to the ever popular Gruffalo books, having said that it is by far one of my favourites. The words and story flow beautifully in a relaxing way as you go on an adventure discovering the marvels of the planet. This story depicts friendship, being caring and helpful as well as bravery to dream big and experience the world. It is a window to lovely dreams.
Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner
The illustrations in this book are just gorgeously scruffy. It takes you on Louie’s journey to get his smell back after his owners have given him a bath and shampooed him in roses and apple blossom scent. It’s a lovely fun story to fall between bathtime and bedtime.
Love… by Emma Dodd
I absolutely adore the pastel illustrations of this book as they flash and shimmer with shards of gold. The story breezes through lots of different ways that love is presented. One of my favourite sentences from the book is “Sometimes love is quiet and it needs no words at all”. The text is beautiful and perfect for snuggling up at bedtime.
Tidy by Emily Gravett
Emily Gravett is one of my favourite illustrators; I think her style is amazing! Tidy is a fab and funny story about a badger that has to keep tidying up the forest. I really like how the story goes into autumn; the leaves start falling and the colours are all gorgeous browns and oranges. We always play a quiet little game where we point to the animals that are hidden all over the pages in the forest.
Peace at Last by Jill Murphy
This book is great to cuddle up with and it really engages the attention of my daughter. I particularly like that the words get you to act out the sound effects throughout the story, which makes it really easy to read in a fun way. It’s also all about being tired and I often find myself yawning along with Mr Bear whilst reading it in dimmed light. That’s OK though, because they won’t know it’s not part of the story. Peace at Last is a well-loved classic by many and never really seems to date.
The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp
This book appeals to me greatly and hopefully my daughter will grow to enjoy the spirit of the character. I really like this alternative take on the ‘traditional princess’, the text is funny and bounces along really well. It’s an excellent message to go to sleep with for a strong growing girl in a modern world.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are a really interesting and unique author/illustrator combination. This story is just lovely where the girl warms and brightens up the dull and cold little town by knitting jumpers for everyone including the animals. It’s a gentle magical tale where good prevails and includes an odd yarn bomb here and there. Brilliant!
Love is My Favourite Thing by Emma Chichester Clark
I adore this story; it’s told through the eyes of a very enthusiastic little dog called Plum and all the things she loves to do. The story is so gushing and fun to read and the illustrations are cute too. It reminds me of our dogs and the things they get up to which they know are naughty but just can’t but help doing anyway. This is a really great book to snuggle up and read at the end of the day.
The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
I love this book and we’ve even made up our own tune to sing the little song that repeats throughout this story. It puts into words so well that sometimes things can be gone but will always stay in your memory and heart. Discovering some of the things that are in the little girl’s memory is just lovely and the ending is so touching. In true Julia Donaldson style the words flow in such a beautiful and relaxing way as you read this book and the calming illustrations and plain background make for a great bedtime read.
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers
It’s wonderful to sit and imagine that you can catch a star. The little boy in the story is so patient as he waits for his moment, and when the opportunity comes to catch his very own star he grasps it. What a lovely underlying message! This is a story to encourage gazing up at the night sky and it finds a fun way to relate to the stars that twinkle up there.