The bedtime story is one of the best rituals to uphold–it boosts children’s language and literacy skills, helps wind them down, and it gives you quality one-on-one time with your kids (followed by quality kid-free time, which is also nice). The problem is finding books you want to read over and over, the preferred reading style of almost every toddler and preschooler.
So we’re reaching out for recommendations, starting with Christine Onorati, owner of WORD bookstore in Greenpoint. We asked her what she reads to her 3-year-old son Adrian each night. It seems there’s no escaping Knuffle Bunny (not that we want to), but there are lots of ideas here to expand your bookshelves, all available at WORD of course!
What’s your bedtime story routine? Do you do it every night? How many stories? In your bed or his bedroom?
Every night we read in his room. The amount of books varies but we try to be very clear about how many from the start so he doesn’t keep asking for unlimited books. If it’s a picture book we usually do 3-4, if it’s a longer storybook maybe 2 stories. We read for about 10 to 15 minutes each night.
Of all the books you’ve read to him so far, what are your all-time favorites and why?
I have a lot of personal favorites, but here are a few all-stars over the years:
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. We read this often and he loved it from the start. It’s simple and just cracks him up.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Adrian knows the High Line and loves finding details in the intricate drawings of the city.
The Knuffle Bunny series by Mo Willems. We have a stuffed Knuffle Bunny doll that Adrian sleeps with every night and he really loves seeing how Trixie grows bigger in each book. It’s great to see him figure out how kids change from baby to toddler to big-kid age.
Anything Dr. Seuss is especially fun for me to read, I love the wordiness of the books, but my husband actually hates them, he thinks they are so laborious. So I’m usually the one reading Cat in the Hat and Oh The Thinks You Can Think.
What do you never want to read again?
I think that I will plead the fifth on this one, so no children’s authors boycott my shop!
Are there any books you love reading to him right now?
At the moment he’s really into super heroes so we read a lot of those. My favorites are the Ralph Cosentino books that are histories of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman but told for a toddler, just the right level for him to understand. We read those A LOT. He’s also getting into the little Golden Books now so we read the superhero stories and anything about the movie Cars, which he adores. We have a new Cat in the Hat book about habitats and what animals can be found where and he’s really into that one at the moment.
Does he like them as much as you?
There are some books that he never quite loved as much as I have, usually the ones that go a bit above his head, but in general, if I have fun reading them, he has fun hearing them. He’s not super picky, and just enjoys being read to. It’s pretty cool to have him love books as much as he does, I must admit.