And even more great bedtime reads!

While reviewing my site stats, I’ve noticed that lots of people want bedtime selections for their little sweethearts (or maybe for their little hellions…maybe THAT’S why they’re so anxious to get them to sleep). Here are some new discoveries in the Klempner household.

Product Details
This Little Chick by John Lawrence tells the adventures of a wacky little chick who would rather speak the languages of the other barnyard animals than that of his family. The woodblock print illustrations are just fantastic, and my children laughed at the chick’s antics. Ages 18 mo – 5 years.
A Book of Sleep
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na has to be one of the most dreamily illustrated boardbooks I’ve ever seen. A wakeful owl watches over sleepy animals of all types until day arrives. The language is simple and lulling, and the pictures are filled with fanciful whorls and flowers and vines faintly sketched against the blocks of color. My favorite illustrations are those of the giraffe using the cloud as a pillow and the penguins huddled together. Perfect for ages 18 mo through 4 years.
The next Jewish holiday, a month and a half away, will be Chanukah. Here’s a fun story to celebrate the holiday:
Asher and the Capmakers: A Hanukkah Story
Asher and the Capmakers by Eric Kimmel isn’t precisely a folktale. This is a whimsical, darkly humorous story–about the mysterious adventure a boy has when he runs to the neighbor to borrow an egg for the family’s latkes–created by interweaving folktales from many traditions. I’d recommend this one for children 5 to 10 years old. It’s a little scary for the youngest readers. Also, some families might be uncomfortable with the mention of fairies and their magical caps.

Great Bedtime Stories beyond _Goodnight Moon_

Interrupting Chicken

I’m feeling inspired by the wonderful new book by David Ezra Stein, called The Interrupting Chicken. My children and I are going to list a few other of our favorite bedtime stories.
Bedtime for Mommy, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Turnabout is fair play in this uproariously funny, topsy-turvy tale.
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep is a wonderful way to address children’s fears at bedtime, plus teaches a healthy way to cope with these troubles. Also, there is a touching relationship between the big brother and his little sister.
We found the adorable Sleepyhead inside our Cheerios box at breakfast one day. Very charming, very snuggly.
As anyone whose read my blog already knows, I’m slightly obsessed with books by Sandra Boynton. Here’s her silly, but soothing, bedtime classic, The Going to Bed Book.

Good Night, Gorilla

With very few words, Peggy Rathman leads children on a fabulous bedtime adventure in Goodnight Gorilla.

Artscroll publishes a whole series of wonderful, wholesome anthologies full of very short stories, just right for bedtime reading. They are widely available in Jewish bookstores and online.
Hanna's Sabbath Dress
This story is perfect for a Friday night: Hanna’s Sabbath Dress. The original Hebrew version of this book has long been a favorite of my children. Hanna is a little girl who has just received a new, white Shabbos dress from her mother. When she does an act of kindness, there are unforeseen consequences. How will she ever bring herself to face her mother?

Last, but not least: the brand new, absolutely fabulous Hashem is Truly Everywhere by Chani Altein, with pictures by the fabulous, local-to-L.A. artist, Marc Lumer!
Put in your bedtime story suggestions in the comments below.

How to Provide Books to the Needy

About thirty years ago, a linguistic anthropologist researched children’s literary experiences at home in three communities. In her famous article, “What No Bedtime Story Means,” Dr. S.B. Heath wrote about her findings. She reported that children who have books in their home and use them regularly have better literacy in school. Even if a child had books in the house, they had to be used…it was insufficient to have a beautiful book if it was treasured so much to the extent that it was left on the shelf as a display piece.

When I taught in So. L.A. nearly a decade ago, my students (mostly working class and Latino) often had no books of their own. Many didn’t visit the library unless on a school visit, although there was one in the neighborhood. Many parents, cash-strapped and not functionally literate themselves, chose to spend what little money they had on DVDs and video games. Others had a few books. These had often been received as gifts, and remained on the shelf so as not to be ruined (just as in Dr. Heath’s study). Alternatively, my students had books, but these were often t.v. tie-ins of questionable literary merit. And some of my students had parents who wanted to read, but were each working two jobs to make ends meet. These folks were simply too busy and too exhausted to read a bedtime story. Thus, my students often had very few literary experiences before they reached school.

Contrast this with the average Ashkenazy Jew in America: books cover the walls (content and language varies by religiosity); many books are so well used they have actually been “loved to death” and are in tatters; libraries are regularly visited; newborns are given copies of Baby Faces, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Blue Hat, Green Hat as gifts long before they can actually hold the books in their own tiny hands.

And people wonder why we are the people of the book?

In steps the wonderful organization, First Book. First Book has partnered with General Mills to distribute free books in Cheerios boxes at selected times of year. Plain Cheerios is a WIC friendly food, so putting them in that particular brand helps them reach their target audience, kids whose families may not be able to afford books, and who may not access public libraries. While these books are printed cheaply, they are high-quality literature. The authors have either won First Book’s annual writing competition for new writers or are established writers themselves…and the illustrations are fabulous.

Here’s a link to this wonderful organization.