Let's start with some background. Almost every parent knows the book Goodnight Moon. Not everyone loves it, but let's talk about why it is so popular. Because it's important - a lot of goodnight books are derivative of Goodnight Moon.
Margaret Wise Brown, through her research, learned that kids were very interested in the "here and now". And so, that was what her storytelling became. Simple settings, simple kid language with cadence that is based upon familiar routines.
This was a book revolution! So much so, that the New York Public Library didn't circulate the book until 26 years after its initial publication.
The book became popular through word of mouth. It lulled your 2 year old to sleep (and maybe you, but the 2 year old was the important one). So parents recommended it to other parents and its popularity increased. Now it's a goodnight staple in many households. The Here and Now storytelling method became a mainstay. Again, the important part here - It puts your kid to sleep.
At bedtime, sometimes you want books that are relaxing but are also fun to read during other times of your day or are a different take on bedtime than the Here and Now. So, I went on a search for other goodnight books that are fun to read at bedtime, will slow down the day for a few minutes but may also provide some text complexity or imagination to your bedtime routine. This list is especially useful for the toddler set - 2 years old and older.
Like trains? Try out Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 by the same authors as Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.
It's a cute counting bedtime story, loading the train up with animals that will go to sleep.
I actually like it better than Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.
This is an American Library Association recommended book for toddlers' libraries.
It details Mr. Gilly, the trash collector's journey through Trashy Town. Just when the repetitive nature gets to be a bit much, the author changes course. After he cleans up, the only thing left to clean is Mr. Gilly.
This is a good book to wind down, or read before bath time.
The author based this book on her own son's interest in the garbage truck going around town and I usually find that parent-written books are extra relatable. Liliana loves this one.
3. Mother, Mother, I Want Another
This book made me laugh. It highlights the struggles parents feel when getting their little ones to bed. They will do anything, including, getting another mother.
The mother frantically searches for another mother to put her mouse to sleep but the book hinges on its playful language from the toddler mouse, who just wants another...kiss. Not another mother!
You'll get a laugh and an extra goodnight kiss out of this one.
Books that Wind Down the Day
In time for poetry month, this is a lyrically written book by an award-winning author and a Caldecott winning illustrator.
Perfect for winding down the day and relaxing. It's also a great book if you have a star, night-sky lover.
This book captures the awe we feel when we look up into the nighttime sky.
For all of you Sandra Boynton lovers, this is a good book to supplement her other goodnight books.
One hippo all alone, calls another on the phone. Once all of the hippos arrive, there is a party! But every party must end, and they all start to go home.
What's interesting in this book? You count up to 9 and back down, meeting 44 hippos along the way (you are left with the original hippo). She does the math for you, but you could do it later if you wanted.
Emily Winfield Martin is an artist who wrote a book...actually a few. Her illustrations are dreamy and the story is affirming for any young child.
The drawings are filled with imagination and the words are calming and relaxing.
Kevin Henkes' newest book won the Theodore Geisel award for little readers. The book focuses on the trinkets little kids find and keep - and what they're waiting for.
A perennial favorite and with rich text, this is a story of a father taking his child owling. The story is full of patience, paced words and beautiful pictures. Jane Yolen knows how to tell a story.