2021. A new year, a time for new beginnings? Traditionally people make ‘New Year Resolutions’. A new start and new plans. Often many of these slip; maybe we dream too big or set ourselves too big a challenge?
So I would like to suggest we consider a reading resolution. Ideal for the younger members of the family who may not yet have the confidence to read independently, this could be a resolution that involves and engages the whole family too.
Why bedtime though? Well, as we wind down and relax, wanting to switch off from a day of activities and - very importantly in this day and age - from the screen, what better activity to turn to than reading? I have started to get into this habit too (as I no longer have a commute for reading) and it is very relaxing indeed – my problem is it can be a little too absorbing and I have to read ‘just a chapter’!
So make a resolution this month, this year, one that will hopefully stay with you for life. A resolution to read at bedtime, to yourself or with others. Choose your book, snuggle up, and off you go. There will always be some children for whom one story is enough - off and off they drift - whilst others will require more, maybe something longer or even the promise of a 'to be continued'. Fortunately, there are books for every eventuality and every child. Here are just a small selection of titles that your Armadillo Editor has been lucky enough to receive recently.
Only got a short window of reading time at bedtime? Britannica Books 5 Minute Really True Stories for Bedtime could be just what you need … Available as a hardback book written by Sally Symes, Rachel Valentine, Jackie McCann and Jen Arena as well as a variety of illustrators, or as an audiobook featuring the tones of Joanna Lumley.
A book perfect for reading aloud to children, yet also one they can delve into for themselves independently, filling their minds with fascinating facts to dream about. How, I know you are wondering, will this help children to sleep? Did you know that memories are consolidated by the brain when we sleep which means bedtime is actually the ideal moment for children to be learning something new? And of course, because there are not only stories in this book but also lavish illustrations, too-tired eyes can be set to work looking whilst adults read – even more to absorb!
So, what can you and the children learn from this fact-filled delight? Let us start with 'Why do we sleep'? This one not only helps the listener to understand their own need for sleep, but also how and why animals get their rest too. You can share facts about dreams and then move on to learn about people who work at night and how the world does in fact carry on working during our slumber. For the more adventurous mind, travel back in time with the pharaohs to ancient Egypt or out into space with an astronaut! Maybe even a swim with some turtles? Everything is made possible with this fantastic set of stories, illustrations and facts – even some sleep!
Interested to know more about sleep? Nicola Morgan is an expert on the teenage brain and has tackled led the subject of sleep in her excellent The
Awesome Power of Sleep (Walker Books) which addresses not only concerns about the effect of too much screen time on children’s brains and sleep patterns, but also explains why our teens especially need a good night of sleep. This one is a guide book more than a settle-down to read book, but nonetheless a fascinating insight and an important contribution to our new year reading resolution plans.
Perhaps it is some more traditional bedtime reading that you are looking for? Konnie Huq and James Kay, with illustrator Rikin Parekh, have compiled a book of Fearless Fairy Tales (Piccadilly Press). The traditional tales have been updated with a hilarious and anarchic new take making this perfect for bedtime fun, setting your young readers up for a night-time of the best of dreams! In this collection there are boys who have no fear of crying and girls who refuse to kiss frogs...
Any guesses as to what these stories may be? 'Jack and the Beanstalk' is quite hilarious with its special BLT meals of beans, larger beans and tomato sauce, giants who want to come down the beanstalk and all manner of anarchy. Sleeping Beauty is now very brainy and remember Rumpel? Well, Trumpelstiltskin will stop at nothing to get richer! And so the stories go on. Everything is here and no topic remains untouched – footballers, environmental pollution, equal pay. Modern manners are put to the giggle test in the best collection of bedtime fairy tales yet!
While You’re Sleeping by Mick Jackson, illustrated by John Broadley (Pavilion Children’s Books) is a stunning story of night-time activity.
Remember when we discovered that the Britannica collection shared some facts about work that goes on after dark? This book tells the story of some of that work. Some of the world will be sleeping with you, but there are night-time heroes hard at work too. A firefighter waiting to see if the bell will ring, a doctor and a nurse looking after their patients or the postmen and women sorting all the letters and parcels. There are mums and dads who have to get up to feed babies – maybe even in your house – but most definitely out in the wild. Owls, bats, foxes, all are night-time creatures, and all are met here in this beautifully and gently illustrated tale that will reassure every child and lull them into a gentle world of the sweetest and calmest dreams.
Do you have a little one who insists that the stories you have shared are not bedtime ones? Maybe they won’t sleep until they have had a ‘proper’ bedtime story – a common excuse! Try them with the most delightful collection of monsters from This Book is Not a Bedtime Story! by Eoin McLaughlin and Robert Starling (Pavilion Children’s Books). Now, before you start just check … do you plan to go to sleep tonight? Yes? Well it may be best that you don’t turn the page … Why? Well Monster thinks that he might just be the world’s scariest monster and he could certainly - he thinks - stop you from sleeping! But is he? Can he? Add to the mix Fluffy ‘Terror’ McFluff and a couple of other monsters, you will soon find out if is this a book to be scared of... Are the monsters really that bad - or are they in fact quite cute, cuddly and the perfect antidote for bedtime worries? A delightfully funny and warm story for sharing.
Lastly, for the little ones is Jon Agee’s It’s Only Stanley (Scallywag Press). In a delightful rhyming story, we learn of love requited, we meet a pink poodle from another planet and we discover a very hilarious twist to the tale... Read out loud, read along, share the story, share lots of giggles, remember to look for clues, then read again and again to find out what you might have missed. A wonderful book with love and laughter for a bedtime share.