By Malia Jacobson
From the first day at a new daycare to the first night in a new bedroom, early childhood is full of new (read: scary) experiences. Local bookstores and libraries have come to my family’s rescue on many such occasions. We’ve used books to prep our kids for nearly every big event: first airplane ride, first visit to the dentist, first day of school. For some reason, learning about a new experience in the context of something familiar and comforting — being read to by a parent — calms kids down and makes “firsts” less frightening.
The same principle applies to sleep. Sharing stories about common sleep challenges helps kids feel less alone, transforming prickly problems into fun experiences in family problem-solving. As an added bonus, many children’s books offer creative solutions for common sleep challenges, from helping kids stay in bed all night long to conquering nighttime fears.
So if your kiddos have sleep woes, why not take a literary approach? Here are five books that can help you tackle tough sleep challenges while sneaking in a little extra reading time with kids — a double win for the whole family.
For bad bedtimes, try:
The Tooth Fairy may be magical, but she can’t help kids stay in bed at night. Enter The Sleep Fairy, a book by child development specialist Janie Peterson. In this award-winning book, the whimsical storyline taps into kids’ magical inner world with a charming story of a Sleep Fairy who visits and bestows treats on sleeping children.
To help kids sleep in their own bed, try:
Many young kids will relate to the title of this book. The story of a puppy family coaxing a young son to stay in his own bed all night is illustrated with bright mixed-media images depicting the setting sun and snoozing animals. It’s no longer in print, but you can find it at libraries or buy an affordable used copy.
For nighttime fears, try:
Sometimes kids resist sleeping in their bedrooms because of nighttime fears — monsters, spiders, or the ubiquitous boogeyman. This book takes kids on a journey of all the places they wouldn’t sleep, and wraps up by showing them that their own bed is indeed the perfect place to curl up and drift off.
When moving to a toddler bed, try:
Even the youngest of toddlers recognizes Elmo — mine did, long before they saw him on TV. It must be in kids’ DNA. This cute book helps kids with the transition from a crib to a big-kid-bed with familiar characters, colorful pictures, and a sweetly simple storyline.
For bedwetting, try:
In this inspiring story, Sammy the Elephant struggles to carry buckets of water. His friend Mr. Camel offers him sage encouragement and advice, and Sammy learns to trust in himself and his ability. He’s put to the test when his town catches fire, and he learns that he has the skills he needs. Along with an appealing story and illustrations, this expertly written book also includes practical advice for parents.
There are plenty of other great sleeptime books out there. What are some of your family’s favorites?
Malia Jacobson is a nationally published freelance writer who blogs about parenting and health at thewellrestedfamily.com, where this post originally appeared.