Sleep Tight! 6 Board Books for Bedtime

Discover rock-a-bye sloths and tricky children in these six board books to help kids drift off to dreamland.

It seems that the kids cannot sleep, and board book creators are pulling out all the stops to help. Discover rock-a-bye sloths and tricky children; luckily, no baby has yet managed to stay up forever.

Alexander, Lori. You Are Getting Sleepy. illus. by Monica Mikai. 16p. Scholastic/Cartwheel. Sept. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781338814064.
PreS-K –A mother and father guide their ebullient baby through the steps of a comforting bedtime routine. At first, only the child’s face can be seen, with hints of adult presence at the edges of image: a pair of hands scrubbing shampoo, a cozy lap at story time, a gentle shoulder to rest on mid-yawn. Finally, as the baby drifts off to sleep, the happy parents come fully into view. Alexander’s text pairs a subtly undulating rhythm with a loose refrain, perfect for tired listeners. With softly faded colors and stippled textures, Mikai achieves a stunning depth of emotion centering the loving Black faces of the family members. VERDICT This irresistible ode to bedtime rituals is a must-have.

Hegarty, Patricia. Night Night, Little Ones. illus. by Thomas Elliott. 10p. Tiger Tales. Sept. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781664350328.
PreS –Each page of this interactive goodnight book features a group of cheerful animals that have drifted off to sleep. As the scene shifts from forest to savanna, from ocean to rainforest, readers are prompted to help a single creature on each spread through the use of a pull tab. Thus, children allow the animals to relax and close their eyes—or, in the case of a nocturnal fox, open them. A final page shifts to a bedroom, where a mischievous human child sneaks in one last bounce before settling in under the covers. VERDICT A first purchase with potential for conversation about animal behavior and habitats.

Isadora, Rachel. I Just Want to Say Goodnight. illus. by Rachel Isadora. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen. Sept. 2022. Board $17.99. ISBN 9780593462034.
PreS-K –In a village on the African plains, it is time for Lala to go to bed. However, the young girl begs her parents for extension after extension, using the excuse contained in the book’s title. In a series of bright, expressive spreads, she dutifully bids goodnight to the fish, the cat, the bird, the goat, the monkey, the chickens, the ants, and even a rock. The ritual complete, Lala is finally ready for bedtime. But wait! One more item beckons: a book, which eagle-eyed readers will recognize as the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—a clear influence on the gentle narrative. VERDICT Parents and children may find their own protracted bedtime negotiations lovingly reflected in this worthy title.

McQuinn, Anna. Leo, Sleep Tight! illus. by Ruth Hearson. 18p. Charlesbridge. Oct. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781623543389.
Baby-Toddler –A Black toddler goes through his evening routine with his father and ­mother: bottle, bath, skin care, pajamas, a song, and a book. The tranquil, soft-textured illustrations place emphasis on quiet relaxation and loving connection between parent and child. With the turn of each page, the background colors subtly shift from bright white to cool green to deep blue, providing a calming experience for sleepy eyes. VERDICT A warm and fuzzy addition for all collections.

Quintanilla, Hazel. Rock-a-Bye Baby. illus. by Hazel Quintanilla. 14p. (Hazel Q Nursery Rhymes). Flowerpot. Oct. 2022. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781486722822.
PreS-K –In this visualization of the well-known nursery rhyme, the sleeper is a baby sloth, the cradle a long-suffering sloth parent hanging from a tree. The bough does indeed break, in a hilarious beat of freeze-frame cartoon panic. Not to worry, though; everyone arrives on the ground alive and unharmed. In her amusing flat-textured ­illustrations, Quintanilla ably captures the distinct mixture of joy and exhaustion familiar to all new parents. VERDICT This charming update of an old classic makes a ­humorous addition to all collections.

Wilson, Karma. Bear Can’t Sleep. illus. by Jane Chapman. 34p. Little Simon. Oct. 2022. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781665919012.
Toddler-PreS –Rhythmic rhyming verse brings a series of concerned animals into the burrow of a wakeful bear in a board book version of a popular picture book. Try as they might, the plucky crew simply cannot get their furry friend to go to sleep. Finally, the bear grows impatient and lights on a creative solution: he turns bedtime into story time, entertaining his companions and distracting himself long enough for sleepiness to kick in at last. Wilson’s evocative word choices and Chapman’s richly textured art convey a palpable warmth amid an air of wintry chill. VERDICT Bouncy rhythm and rhyme coupled with a catchy refrain make this a surefire read-aloud hit.

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