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7 New Children's Books You Should Read to Your Kids Before Bed

by Pam Silvia

In honor of International Children’s Book Day (April 2), look to any of these family-friendly book releases from 2020 to help put the kiddos to sleep.

Sleep experts say a consistent bedtime routine is a catalyst for daily productivity, motivation, and even good grades. Nighttime rituals, such as reading a nightly bedtime story together, not only position your child for success—they pose an opportunity to strengthen your bond. So, act out these bedtime stories for kids before tucking them in.

1. I’m Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright

I’m Gonna Push Through! by Jasmyn Wright book cover

Titled after Teach for America member and author Jasmyn Wright’s mantra for her third-grade students, I’m Gonna Push Through! emboldens little ones to overcome setbacks through affirmations of self-empowerment.

This new children’s book invokes icons like Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Malala Yousafzai to help internalize the message that anyone, at any age and from all backgrounds, can seize their potential and overcome adversity. End your child’s day on an uplifting note that can seep its way into their dreams and color their motivation for the next day.

2. Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy

Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy book cover

This latest offering from The Decemberists frontman and children’s book author, Colin Meloy, recounts how a young boy’s boisterous loved ones come alive when the rest of the world is supposed to be asleep.  Ultimately a loving portrait of a restless family, this book also reveals a stunning detail toward the end: this family does not live in just any regular house.

In the case of life imitating art, don’t worry: the steadfast tempo and rhyme scheme that the book sets up are guaranteed to whisk your kiddo away to dreamland.

3. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker book cover

A funny ode to young introverts and daydreamers, this middle-grade novel follows reluctant camp goers, Ware and Jolene, who find sanctuary in a nearby abandoned lot and build out a castle-like space that previously lived only in Ware’s imagination. When the lot is unfairly claimed and their fortress is threatened, the two misfits look to the knightly Code of Chivalry and vow to defend their refuge. 

Engage your older kiddos through nightly read-throughs of Sara Pennypacker’s novel to relay the message that one can never be too old for a bedtime story.

4. The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder

The Box Turtle by Vanessa Roeder book cover

This new children’s book from author Vanessa Roeder is bound to cue some “awwws” from your young peanut gallery. Adorably illustrated by Roeder herself, this bedtime story chronicles the titular reptile’s experiences with bullying, as he is shamed for donning a cardboard box in lieu of a turtle shell—one of which he was born without. 

Slapstick depictions of Terrence trying on a mailbox and boombox (to no avail) will charm audiences—as will the shell-less turtle’s journey of self-acceptance.

5. Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton book cover

Girl Power™ is the pillar upon which this collection of poems sits. Dedicated to “every little girl who is becoming a big girl,” this new children’s book depicts children from various backgrounds and afflictions, ultimately conveying that there is no “right” way to be a girl. From country girls and city girls to happy girls and sad girls, this book is sure to appeal to many—across all stages of womanhood.

Instill the importance of media representation and inclusivity with the help of Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s winsome illustrations and sweet prose.

6. Narwhal on a Sunny Night by Mary Pope Osborne

Narwhal on a Sunny Night by Mary Pope Osborne book cover

Steadily doling out chapter books since 1992, The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne makes for great bedtime stories to read to kids.  In this latest installment, young Jack and Annie find themselves magically transported to Greenland with a mission: to save a narwhal. Along the way, they recruit the help of legendary explorer Leif Erikson—but it seems that he has other ideas. 

Doubling as an encyclopedia of whale and narwhal facts, this novel will feed young ones’ incurable curiosity and will win over adults who might find comfort in the series’s familiar refrain: “The tree house started to spin. It spun faster and faster. Then everything was still. Absolutely still.”

7. Stella Diaz Never Gives Up by Angela Dominguez

Stella Diaz Never GIves Up by Angela Dominguez book cover

This coming-of-age novel follows budding conservationist and activist Stella Diaz, as she juggles friend groups and yearns to save the oceans while at summer camp.  A worthy followup to author-illustrator Angela Dominguez’s Stella Diaz Has Something to Say, this bedtime story seamlessly integrates our heroine's Mexican-American background through Spanish phrases and its earnest depiction of family dynamics.

Spark a desire to practice sustainable habits through Stella’s example, and relay the impact of having culturally diverse perspectives in coming-of-age narratives.

 

This is all to say: bedtime stories not only help kiddos establish and sustain a healthy sleep schedule, but they also help forge a deeper connection between parent and child. Don’t be afraid to throw in your best impersonation of a British accent or to give in to theatrics when reading aloud—your momentary embarrassment will be their fond lifelong memory.

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