It’s Bedtime, But First, A Story

One of the happiest of memories I have raising my children involved nightly readings of their favorite books. Those books became etched into my brain matter permanently. Reading the same simple book over and over and over and over, night after night, can take its toll on a parent. Or it can encourage creativity.

photo-19 copyLet me explain.

See this book?

Absolute favorite of one daughter in particular. Although they all seemed to love it. By child three I had the thing memorized and could read it with my eyes closed. Then one evening, I don’t remember when, or with who, or where, but I started to use different voices for each character’s dialogue. The mother, the cow, the dog, the baby bird and others all had their own voice. Baby bird had a high squeaky voice. Mama bird of course had a motherly voice. The cow spoke with a moo inflection. It made the book more interesting. After a week or two of this I added a different flavor by making the mother bird’s voice a little more Grandma from the Beverly Hillbilly’s.

photo-18 copy 2Or baby bird’s voice took on the same tone and lyricism as John Wayne. “Excuse ma’am, but are you…my mother?” Soon every night the story became a venture into a different culture, dialect, or region. I looked forward to story time and even planned ahead occasionally to ensure an entertaining reading.

photo-21 copyAnother book I loved to read to my kids seemed a bit unconventional as a bedtime story, since the subject matter bordered on the scary, which doesn’t elicit happy dreams. I wondered if the strange topic, turned into something the kids could laugh at  made it a great bedtime story. Laughing at frightening stuff can often take the scare out of it. I still love this book and will occasionally thumb through its well-loved pages even without any children asking for a story.

This next book captures the essence of motherhood and childhood. At least for me that’s true. The artwork alone tells a brilliant story of love and power.  Adding the words brings a mother/child relationship into clear and wonderful focus.

photo 3This may come as a surprise to some of you, but mothers aren’t perfect. In fact, mothers are flawed and fragile, while at the same time they’re powerful and seemingly all-knowing. Another surprise about mothers comes when realizing that there exists no pattern for motherhood. Mothers come in as many shapes and sizes and colors and ways as there are mother/child relationships. I think this book lovingly and laughingly captures that feeling.

photo 1I stumbled on this delightful sleepy time book about twelve years ago. After a few dozen readings I made up a tune to rhymes and pretty much sang it every time I had a chance to read. Then the characters became family members based on things as silly as bulgy eyes or holes in  pajamas or floppy ears. Whether as a gift or adding to your own collection I’ve found you just can’t go wrong picking out a Sandra Boynton book.

photo-20 copyFor sheer silliness and irony in a kid’s book, nothing matches the fun that happens in this wonderful concoction. Who knew farm animals had such thoughts? Who would have figured the political savvy that ducks possess? If you’ve ever wondered what animals might think about, beyond the scary distopian “Animal Farm” this book could have the answers you’re looking for. At the very least it’ll make you laugh out loud.

I absolutely love children’s books! I can’t make myself get rid of any of the thin books in my collection, no matter how old or ratty, no matter missing covers or missing pages.

The one’s I’ve listed are just the tiniest sampling of magical books

Categories: Books, parenting | Leave a comment

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