Bedtime Books For A Mom’s Heart

Whether it’s 6, 7, 8, or 9 o’clock {or even later for the night owls}, there comes that moment of the day when, although the darkness starts to roll in, you, as mom, see the light. The little ones are bathed, jammied up, and smelling of sweet baby lotion – sure signs of readiness to snuggle up with a book or two before turning in for the night.

The English teacher in me loves this moment. The mom in me perhaps loves it even more. For no matter the type of day I have had with my family, cuddling up with bedtime books stops time just long enough to take in who I am as mom to a little life.  Some nights we need a redemptive pat on the back that we are doing our best, and we are doing okay. Other days we are so full of life running smoothly that we want to soak our toes in it for a bit, and yet still others we need a silly rhyme to dissolve away tantrums, impatience, and other shortcomings on both sides of the parenting dynamic.

Whatever the day has given, here are some of my favorites:

For Validation ::  How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

With all-too-familiar examples of patience-testing, rowdy child behavior, the rhyming text within these pages offers two-fold encouragement. After each naughty behavior, the dinosaurs {and thus our children} are reminded that they are loved regardless. On the other hand, I as a mom feel a sense of normalcy that my kids are supposed to be exploring boundaries as the dinosaurs do within the book, and the endearing gestures that follow each misbehavior remind me of the sweet moments my own ‘dinosaur’ provided that day.  What a positive way to end the day!

For A Sweet Reminder :: On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

We read this story so often to Wyatt when he was younger that its memorized verses still float around in my head. While the focus of this book celebrates the uniqueness of a child and his or her special place in our great big world, my heart as a mother overflows with awe as the words remind me how very blessed I am to be gifted with such a rare gem of a soul. No matter how big my little people seem to be growing, this book recalls that precious instant they changed the world with just one breath.

For Encouragement :: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Wyatt has recently been interested in this book, and I have found that on particularly challenging days when I have felt spread too thin by the many hats we wear as mothers, this book renews my sense of purpose. While some frown upon the fact that the selfish little boy in the story seems to just take and take of the tree, I find strength and courage to give of myself as one responsibility of being granted the gift of motherhood. This classic story will also provide a door to discussion for years to come.

For the Journey :: Only One You by Linda Kranz

I recently discovered this colorfully illustrated book and its beautiful message, and I look forward to the settling feeling in my heart when Wyatt chooses it for a nighttime read.   As fish Papa and Mama share their words of wisdom with their son Adri, Wyatt pops question after question such as,  “What’s appreciate?” and “What does ‘follow the crowd’ mean?” With the ultimate message that there is only one person like you in the entire world, this book inspires me along the way with guidance of bettering our “ocean” in simple steps. It is a soothing nighttime read and another reminder for the little ones of just how loved they are.

And just for a bit of lagniappe {Cajun for “a little something extra”}…

For Our Roots in Louisiana ::Today is Monday in Louisiana by Johnette Downing

You can read more about our family’s love for this book, but the sing-song text in this book not only teaches days of the week but also brings fond memories of time spent with our Louisiana friends and family to our hearts before bedtime.

For Our Seeds in Texas  :: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri 

Apparently our state love goes hand in hand with food, and Texas offers some of the best Tex-Mex around, right? This silly explanation of a dragon’s affection for tacos, but not spicy salsa, engages our imaginations and is a great, laughable read after a long day.

And now it’s your turn! What should we add to our bedtime reading list? What books uplift you as a mother as you read with your littles? Are there any Texas classics that this Louisiana mom needs to read?

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Jenn is an English teacher turned stay at home mom to boys Wyatt {2010}, John {2013}, and Abram {2014}. South Louisiana born and raised, North Louisiana educated, and Texas “polished,” she has found Houston to be home with her husband for the past ten years. After infertility struggles, in 2010 she traded in A Tale of Two Cities for Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and has since been busy discovering ways to learn while playing, maintaining a semi-scheduled family life, and integrating both Texas and Louisiana culture into her family. Besides making memories with her boys full time, she enjoys reading, running, crafting, cooking, and football. Y’all stop by When In Doubt, Add More Salt to read more about family adventures with the boys and Jenn’s thoughts on hot summers and Pinterest pin attempts, and her love/hate relationship with March Madness brackets.


  1. How do you even get through reading The Giving Tree without boo-hooing??? That one gets me every time!!! I’ll definitely have to check out the other books, too. 🙂 Great post, Jenn!

    • The first few times I read it with him Meg I totally cried! But now I mostly think — okay, step it up and just be the tree already! 🙂

    • You are so sweet Tiffany! We have to mix in some with a bit of the sentimental when most nights include planes, trains, and automobiles right?!?

  2. Jenn, your writing is touching and helpful–nice combo! 🙂
    We are big fans of Mo Willems because of the simple stories and the interactions between characters–the less language and more depiction of feeling was necessary for my little one with sensory challenges!

    When I lived in Spring, my little library at my elementary school was a favorite place. I was always drawn to the section of Caldecott winners and still remember my favorites (from back then): Owl Moon and Have You Seen My Duckling.
    I remember thinking how soothing the snow scenes were before bedtime.

    Can’t wait to read some of your suggestions 🙂

    • Heather we love Mo Williams as well! (and a special package we received!) Jacob and I especially like Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. W didn’t really get it but he wanted to read it every night all 3 weeks we had it from the library, and I cracked up every night for sure.

      Thanks for your other suggestions as well! I hope books can be magical for my littles as they were and still are for me.

  3. Love this post and love those books! But maybe that is just because I have a complete obsession with children’s literature. Both kiddos rooms are full of books, my craft room has a book shelf filled to the brim, and I have all of my classroom books in storage for now. Oh, and a recommendation for a good Lone Star State book – ‘Hello, Texas!’ Hayes and I both ADORE it!!!

  4. The Legend of the Bluebonnet is a great Texas book for when they get to be early elementary. It is one of my favorites as a former elementary teacher 🙂 We also like Hello Texas in our house with our 3 year old. Another cute one is Gilla Monsters Meet You At The Airport. It is a cute book about stereotypes.


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