Saturday, January 29, 2011

precious storybook for nighttime fears

I go through about 15 picture books a week for bedtime story time for my little girls, ages 2 and 4.  We read at least three per night--usually rereading our favorites several times.  I'd rather read ten a night, but our evenings are spent with Momma as the sole parent--meaning reasonable bedtimes depend on my restraint at story time, as much as on their cooperation with hygiene tasks.

Some of you are with me on this: The dinner and nighttime details involved in caring for young children are time consuming and exhausting.  Only by God's grace has story time--something I consider foundational--survived at all.

My boys, ages 7 and 9,  listen in, too, at picture book time, but they also have their own story time after the girls go to sleep.

Of the fifteen books, we generally find two to three real keepers.  Tonight we read Teddy Bear Tears, by Jim Aylesworth, 1997, which I'll review tonight.

I can always tell when the book will be a favorite.

All the wiggles stop.

The room quiets except for my story voice.

All eyes and minds are in the book, as though we've traveled to the setting. (Don't imagine my two year old staying in my lap, mind you--seven minutes tops!)

About halfway through, one of the boys will declare in a knowing, literary-lovin' voice, "This book is really good!"

When the last page is turned, and we realize we've reached the end, Mary can't take it.

"Read it again, Mommy!"

I will never tire of reading picture books to children.  When I'm far older and white-haired, I'll beg to read daily to my own grandchildren, or even to children at the local library.

Teddy Bear Tears, tonight's favorite, is about a little boy with four teddy bears.

"The little boy loved them all very much, and every night they slept together in a big, cozy bed.  
And some nights, there were tears."

Each teddy bear starts crying, in turn, about some nighttime fear.  The boy listens attentively, and then he turns on the light, patiently showing the scared teddy that there's only dust and puzzles pieces under the bed, or that there's only moonlight, moths, and wind outside.

"Don't be scared," said the little boy, getting out of bed and carrying Willie Bear to the window.  "See how pretty it is out there in the moonlight?  See how the stars shine and how the wind moves the trees?"  

Willie Bear nodded.  

"Well, that wind makes noise, but it's nothing to be scared of.  And sometimes there's a cat out poking around, or maybe a moth bumping against the screen.  They make noises, too, but there's nothing out there that would hurt a little bear."

The bears' fears, of course, are really the boy's fears.  He soothes himself as he comforts his beloved bears.

Finally, after the last bear has been soothed and tucked close to the boy, they bid each other good night, and the boy falls fast asleep.

"He tucked Willie Bear up real close on one side and Fuzzy up real close on the other side. Ringo and Little Sam he put up on top.  Then he put his arms around them all.

"Good night, you guys," said the little boy.  "I love you."  

"We love you, too," said the bears.

And then, after only a moment more, the boy was sound asleep....and dreaming very pleasant dreams.

What did I tell you?  A real keeper, huh?  We loved it!

Enjoy!  And have a nice weekend!

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