baby proof: bedtime stories lately.

November 15, 2018

children's books | reading my tea leaves Both of my kids are off at school these days and it’s meant that at the end of the day they don’t have quite the stamina for the multi-book bedtimes that we’ve been used to. More than once this fall, both kids have been softly snoring by the time the six o’clock bells chime across the street. Still, reading picture books before bed remains the most beloved time of our day. Lately we’ve been reading lots of simple, quiet books. Just by chance, or perhaps not at all, lots of these titles follow kids on simple walks around their worlds, pointing out everyday magic, or making it themselves. A lot of these books hit the sweet spot of capturing the comfort of routine and the thrill of discovery. Childhood, in a nutshell, in other words. I hope they offer a bit of quiet comfort to your families. And, as always, I want to know what you’ve been reading, too.children's books | reading my tea leaves

+ DOOR, words and pictures by Jihyeon Lee

A little bit strange, a lot-a-bit magical, this wordless story is transporting and fanciful and just a lot of fun to look through. My kids love mimicking the facial expressions of the make-believe characters and imagining what they’re up to.


+ WINDOWS, words by Julia Denos, illustrations by E.B. Goodale

This book has been a favorite of ours since last winter. The story follows a little kid on an evening walk around their urban neighborhood. Walking around the city at dusk and getting to peek into other people’s lives is the best thing about this time of year and our ever shorter days. This book helps remind us of that magic.


+ CITY MOON, words by Rachael Cole, illustrations by Blanca Gomez

We’ve reached full-on moon mania with Silas. In addition to our beloved and oft-mentioned THE MOON IS GOING TO ADDY’S HOUSE, this book is a near nightly read for us. It follows a parent and child out for a nighttime walk, spotting the folks in their neighborhood and, of course, looking out for a bright full moon.


+ TODAY, words and pictures by Julie Morstad

I love the simultaneous sense of comfort and possibility that this book gives little kids. It’s a perfect before bedtime book, especially for little ones getting used to new routines and looking for a bit of choice in the matter.


+ GROW, words by Cynthia Platt, illustrations by Olivia Holden

A kid, a garden, and a whole community of people working to make a tired place in a gray city a whole lot greener. I have a soft spot for city books, as you can see, and this one is especially nice. 


+ YOU BELONG HERE, words by M.H. Clark, illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault

Another lovely read for kids who might be experiencing changes, or tumult, or who are just in a need of a reminder that they’re right where they’re supposed to be. 


+ BACKYARD FAIRIES, words and pictures by Pheobe Wahl

A big dose of magic, if you need some. (And you do.)


+ HOMEMADE LOVE, words by bell hooks, illustrations by Shane W. Evans

This is such a sweet reminder, for parents and kids, of the love kids should feel at home. We’ve been so lucky to have a really smooth and decidedly fun transition to full-day school for both of our kids this year, but it’s nice to have a simple reminder of the particular reassurances of home and family.


+ TINY PERFECT THINGS, words by M.H. Clark, illustrations by Madeline Kloepper

This is my very favorite new book. It perfectly captures the joy that is kids finding treasures on their weekday walks. A red bottle cap, a yellow leaf… It’s been the perfect thing to read this fall, but the illustrations are delightfully seasonless. It’s Faye’s very favorite right now, too.

children's books | reading my tea leaves

Now your turn! I need to fill up my library bag!

Plus: lots more book recommendations in case you need them!

PS. We borrow many of our books from our public library, but when we buy new books, we love to always support our local bookstores—Stories BookshopBooks Are MagicGreenlight Bookstore, and Community Bookstore, to name a few. I’ve provided links above to where you can find these titles from independent bookstores near you.

This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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  • Reply Ashley November 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    This fall we discovered the picture book trilogy by Aaron Becker – Journey, Quest, and Return. These wordless books are beautifully illustrated and immerse you in an imaginative story. My 3 year old loves having me “read” each page and help me spot all the details. And as with the best kids books, I enjoy reading them as much as he does.

  • Reply Ailsa November 15, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    If you have any recommendations for grown ups they would be gratefully received ✨

    • Reply Pat S November 16, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      I second that!

  • Reply Neha November 15, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    We love Bear and Wolf by Daniel Salmieri.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 15, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Yes! Another lovely one!

  • Reply Ann November 15, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith.
    (From an adult without any kids, who still reads children’s books because they are wise and lovely.)

  • Reply Jennifer Odle November 15, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    One Hundred (or One Thousand) Things To Spot – both great for different ages.

  • Reply zoe November 15, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    “A Big Mooncake for Little Star” is perfect for your sweet little moon man. Violet is obsessed with “Would You Rather” by John Burningham right now. “Today” is still one of our favorites after James introduced it to us and got clobbered by kids trying to pick out their favorite hairstyles 🙂

  • Reply C November 15, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Yay for Indiebound links! Thank you. (I understand the convenience and need[?] for Amazon links, but like this so much more.)
    And more importantly, thank you for all the great recommendations!
    We’ve been loving City Moon, and also The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse and Extra Yarn, both by Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett.

  • Reply Sam November 15, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    We’ve been into Taro Gomi lately – my girl loves buses so we read Bus Stops every night, and we got The Great Day on our last library run. Second long-time favorite is Corduroy. When I need a treat we read Where the Wild Things are and our Jon Klassen hat books 🙂 I’m so excited to do your holiday book advent calendar this year!!

  • Reply Rebecca November 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Anything written or illustrated by Claire Nivola (my beloved childhood neighbor and wildly talented artist). My favorites of hers are The Friday Nights of Nana; Orani; Life in the Ocean: The Story of Sylvia Earle; and Elizabeth. Her stories and illustrations will not disappoint!

  • Reply Danielle November 15, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I love when you do the Bedtime Stories series! I recently found out I’m pregnant (!!), and I love children’s literature, so I know I’ll be referencing your posts often!
    Some books I recently bought from Brimful Toys were
    – Everyone Eats (- Julia Kuo)
    – Little Owl Lost (-Chris Haughton)
    – Mister Pip (- Thereza Rowe)

    I have not looked paged through these yet, but the excerpts on their website look adorable. They have some other cute looking options too.

    Another one I’ve seen that looks neat is Actual Size (- Steve Jenkins).

    A hilarious one to check out (it might be more fun for adults than kids!) is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt.

    One more neat looking option I saw at Books Are Magic (last year) was the Story Box: Create Your Own Fairytales. I think there are other varieties of the story boxes too!

  • Reply kimag November 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Any book illustrated by Julie Morstad is pretty high on my family’s list! My daughter also loves Beatrix Potter classics in part because they are “Simone size”. She totes them around the house in a small shopping bag.

  • Reply Kate November 15, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    We love In My Heart by Jo Witek, which is teaching little ones about big emotions (what colour is your heart today?) & Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth, about a very wise panda who tells fables with beautiful messages. Thanks for your recommendations — they are on my list. We are in the trenches here with lots of uncertainty about days away at school. Hopefully some of these stories might help!

  • Reply Katie November 15, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    We just came across Anatole by Eve Titus. So fun! Old too. She wrote a few. My 6 year old is loving them!

  • Reply S November 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    I love this series, Erin! (Childless children’s bookseller here).

    2018 picture books I’m especially loving are The Honeybee (Hall/Arsenault), Hello Lighthouse (Blackall), The Elephant (Jenni Desmond’s latest in her endangered species series), What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? (Weatherford/Holmes – about Barbara Jordan!), The Dress and the Girl (Andros/Morstad), and Ode to an Onion (Giardino/Sala – a moment in Pablo Neruda’s life). Since you and your fam are into city books, I’d especially recommend Thank You, Omu! (Mora) also!

    Since you mentioned indie bookstores: putting in a plug for one of my very favorites, the Eric Carle Museum bookshop in MA—they have a huge picture book selection and an online store!

  • Reply Jo November 15, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    Kissed by the Moon, by Alison Lester
    Where the wild things are, by Maurice Sendak
    My Place (Australian), by Donna Rawlins and Nadia Wheatley
    There’s a sea in my bedroom, by Jane Tanner
    Lost and Found, and The Great Paper Caper, by Oliver Jeffers
    Mix it up, by Hervé Tullet

  • Reply carolina November 16, 2018 at 5:57 am

    We love Marta Altes work! So, I would recomend you specially : “I am an artist” and “Little monkey”.
    My two year old is loving them!

  • Reply Sophia November 16, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Ugh, this is such a good list. Thank you!

  • Reply Elizabeth November 16, 2018 at 10:06 am

    I wonder why you switched your nightstands?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 16, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Mostly because Silas pulled it onto himself several times (by some miracle not shattering the crystal lamp), but also because I can hide more books in the crate!

  • Reply Christina M November 16, 2018 at 10:27 am

    These are all great suggestions. As we delve into the holidays, I’m trying to offer some different perspectives on traditional stories. We’re in the very white Midwest, so my son is inundated with the same white, Christian middle class perspective in most places. “The night before Christmas” by Rachel Isadora is set in Africa and Santa Claus is black, which has led to good bedtime conversations with my three year old I also got “Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message” in lieu of stereotypical thanksgiving “pilgrim and Indian” stories. Other favorites lately include Jabari Jumps and The Barefoot Book of Children

  • Reply Nicole November 16, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Before Morning by Joyce Sidman was my favorite library find last winter. Gorgeous illustrations and spare, lovely words capture the magic of a time-pausing, snow-day snowfall. Also a city book! I feel like it could be set in your neighborhood 🙂

  • Reply CathyMA November 16, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    I just read Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell to a second grade class. They loved it. It’s a sweet story about friendship and imagination.

  • Reply C November 16, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    Florette by Anna Walker
    The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfield
    Before We Eat by Pat Brisson
    Quiet by Tomi DePaola
    Everything You Need For a Treehouse by Carter Higgins
    My Abuelita by tony Johnston
    The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts
    Woody, Hazel and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow
    And sooo many more. I love children’s books!

  • Reply Amy V November 17, 2018 at 2:26 am

    I just adore children’s books and love reading time together with my son. He’s 18 months, his current favourites s are…
    – The Storm Whale by Benji Davis
    – Alan’s Big Scary Teeth by Jarvis
    – Maisy Goes to the Museum by Lucy Cousins, the whole series really
    – I Am So Brave by Stephen Krensky
    – Apples for Little Fox by Ekaterina Trukhan
    – Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

  • Reply SHERRY JOHNSON November 18, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I love all of Jan Brett’s illustrated books. She has a new one just in time for Christmas: The Snowy Nap.

  • Reply Liz November 19, 2018 at 4:56 am

    Another vote for Alan’s Big Scary Teeth! I also love:
    – Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (and all of the books in the series)
    – Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do by Daisy Hirst – a lovely book about a girl whose toddler brother keeps wrecking her stuff
    – Any of Chris Haughton’s books, particularly A Bit Lost
    – Wow Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood, which is lovely if you’re looking for books about nature

  • Reply Awfulknitter November 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

    ‘This Is Sadie’, Sara O’Leary. For a while, my daughter liked this so much she could practically recite it off by heart – and I didn’t mind a bit! It’s still one of my favourites. It’s about a girl who loves stories and the power of her imagination.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 19, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Yes! One of our favorites, too! Included in one of my very first lists!

      • Reply Sara O'Leary November 22, 2018 at 7:18 am

        Lovely to find this here! So many beautiful books on this list.

  • Reply Alexandra November 19, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Erin,

    I’ve been meaning to recommend Marianne Dubuc’s Le lion et l’oiseau to you. I’m sure it’s translated into English too but it’s very few words and a beautiful story of friendship… She’s a Montreal artist and she has other great kids books including Les aventures de Facteur Souris with great illustrations and worlds. . Her books are ones we continually go back to with my two boys 3 and 4…
    Love your blog and appreciate your sharing your political and social activism too!

  • Reply Ange November 21, 2018 at 10:35 am

    We have been fans of Dan Santat’s, Beekle for some time, along with Oliver Jeffers, Here We Are. Recently we checked out “The Remember Balloons” by Jessie Oliveros and it is a beautiful book – both artistically and in meaning. Thanks for sharing your recent library haul.

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