I’m a bare-bones minimalist in almost every way, except when it comes to my book collection. I almost can’t help myself when I come across hardbound spines in colorful paper jackets. I want to swoon. I’m a sucker for words on paper.
Lately, though, I’ve been trying to simplify my reading experience. I had acquired a stack of half-read books by my bedside, and even though R can’t even read yet I‘d accumulated quite a few for her. This isn’t something that would have struck me as a problem if I wouldn’t have reread my favorite parenting book Simplicity Parenting a few months back.
Payne recommends simplicity with books like he suggests simplicity in all other areas of life, but for some reason when I read him the first time I glossed over that part. Or maybe I ignored him. I have a difficult time thinking that too many books could ever be a bad thing. But he lays out a compelling argument, and that is that young children thrive on the comfort and security of repetition, and this includes the stories they’re told.
I can remember the stories I loved when I was little. I mean really loved. There were a few that I could never get enough of, and I bet you might have had a similar experience. There was Ferdinand, Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth, The Shaggy Little Burro of San Miguel, and the Story of the Shoshone People. These stories were read to me so many times over so many years that they rooted themselves deep into my psyche. There were others-my mother read to us all the time-but those special few are what stand out.
With all of this in mind, I took a good look at the books I read to R at night, especially the ones I read to her at night. I wanted to pare down to the sweetest, coziest, and most heartfelt that will wrap little R’s heart in all the love in the world. Bedtime stories should be chosen with these things in mind. I was able to narrow them down to 9 favorites that we’ll rotate through over and over again until she’s a little older and can choose them for herself. But I’m pretty sure most of these will be keepers for a long time to come.
Read: The Story of Ferdinand (My favorite children's book ever)
“Once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand. He liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers. He had a favorite spot out in the pasture under a cork tree. It was his favorite tree and he would sit in its shade all day and smell the flowers.”
Read: Following Papa’s Song (A short, beautiful story about a whale and his papa)
“At dawn, Little Blue nuzzled alongside Papa and asked, “Is it time?” “Listen for the other whales,” said Papa. “When you hear their call, we’ll know it’s time to go.” Little Blue listened to the peaceful quiet that whispered through the morning sea."
Read: Our Nest (Beautiful rhymes, beautiful illustrations)
“Snuggled in bed, you’re all safe and warm, like a bird in a nest in a tree. The dog curls up at your feet with a sigh and sleeps with his head on your knee. Our cat made a nest in a pile of clothes, her kittens were born there one day. A hen made a nest in the loft of our barn, and laid speckled eggs in the hay.”
Read: Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth (My dearest book from my own childhood)
“The stars came out. And the moon rose up in the east. And the moon set in the west. And the stars went in. The sun came up. It was morning. Little Rabbit woke up. She looked under her pillow. She took out the envelope. She opened it. And inside the envelope was a dime.”
Read: Rabbit’s Bedtime (This is a cute, collaged book about the rhythm of the day)
“Bedtime. What was good about today? There was time to work and time to play. Time to dance and time to sing. Time to make a special thing.”
Read: Harry the Dirty Dog (One of my favorite children’s books)
“Harry was a white dog with black spots who liked everything, except…getting a bath. So one day when he heard the running water in the tub, he took the scrubbing brush…and buried it in the backyard. Then he ran away from home.”
Read: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (The sweetest baby book in all the world)
“There was one little baby who was born far away. And another who was born on the very next day. And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes.”
Read: The Runaway Bunny (Beautiful, comforting message for our children)
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, “I am running away.” “If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
Read: Love You Forever (I fell in love with this book when I was 10, and I still love it just as much )
“A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang: ‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.’”
I bet you you have favorites of your own. I’m dying to know! Let me know in the comments below :)