Bedtime is when the day comes to a pause and little bodies can rest. But while bodies sleep, minds are awake during dream time, still hard at work solving big problems. Reading a mindful story pre-sleep can help little minds relax with the understanding that even the biggest problems can be mediated and come to rest.So, here are my top five books on our shelf to help my kids think about old problems in a new way:
A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson
The always lyrical and entertaining Julia Donaldson does it again with this delightful rhyming tale. It tells the story of an old woman who is unhappy with the size of her tiny house. She seeks advice from a wise old man who encourages her to bring in all the rowdy, noisy, flappy farmyard crowd from her farm- which turns out to be a living nightmare. But when she eventually chases them all out again, she is pleasantly surprised just how huge her house now feels! This story teachesthatany problem really boils down to perspective. When you flip your lens, you will be amazed at how a problem solves itself.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Salzberg
This highly interactive award-winning book is a beautiful exploration of happy mistakes, singing “A smudge and a smear makes magic appear!” This book is filled with flaps, flips and pop-ups that artistically explore how spills don’t ruin drawings because they can simply be re-shaped into a crazy creature. Accidentally tore your paper? Don’t worry because now you can turn it into the gaping jaws of a crocodile. And so many other mistakes-made-right. This book teaches kids that life-long lesson that we can’t always be perfect. And often mistakes and mishaps can create incredible opportunities to think differently and learn new skills.
We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen
Four siblings go on an adventure through the wilderness to find a bear. Along the way they encounter so many obstacles that cannot be avoided like long grass, sticky mud and quick rivers, only to discover that “You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go through it.”. Each of these have to be navigated and faced head on if they are to see their expedition to the end. This book teaches kids that it is impossible to avoid problems. Challenges are inevitable and it’s often facing your problems (while scary) is unavoidable.
Oliver’s Outline by Alan Glass
This tale by the South African author that brought us Beautiful Creatures, tells the tale of Oliver McFear. A little boy with a big problem: He doesn’t have an outline. Convinced that this is the reason he is so very scared of the world; he embarks on a big adventure to find his outline. Only to return home and discover he had it all along.This story is a wonderful metaphor that explains how self-assurance is not actually an external phenomenon. With great courage and perseverance, you can overcome self-doubt.
Worries go away byKes Gray and Lee Wildish
This beautifully illustrated story is all about a girl who gets stuck in her own worried mind. This place starts off as lovely and candy coated, but suddenly things get scary and she is alone in the scary thoughts. Luckily at the end she discovers a keyhole outside peeping where all the people she loves are there to help her talk out her worries and get her outside her own head. This story teaches kids that problems often need outside counsel. Encouraging little people to seek advice and support from the adults around them.Instilling the idea that if they come to us for help, we can help them think things through and solve problems together.
In the same way we don’t let our kids watch scary movies before bedtime, what we read just before sleep really matters. I love to select books that have a subtle message of resilience. So that once the lights go out, whatever dreams may come, the mind understands that they will get through all of these unbridled thoughts and dreams. And emerge ready to tackle any of the next day’s troubles too.