I believe in bedtime stories. I read to Big Girl every night until just recently, when she started wanting to continue reading something she was also reading during the day. But I would read to her now if she asked -- we've completed many chapter books together and I love that time at night when I read to her. It's calm, it's quiet, and it's full of good stories and great memories.
I've continued the tradition with the twins, although admittedly it is much harder. I can't sit with them in my lap like I did with her. They are much more apt to leave my lap and wander. And they are still in their cribs, so I can't sit on one of their beds yet either. So I plop myself on the floor, between the two cribs, and they sit in their beds and watch and listen -- most of the time.
In many ways, reading at night is very routine to us. The routine started with Big Girl. Clean up faces and hands, change diapers, put PJs on, brush teeth, read three stories and tuck into bed. They know it, and they've known it for a while. They learn pretty quick.
And they already ask for certain characters, or certain book. Curious George and Clifford and Little Bear and shape books and color books and all the good ones that I don't mind repetitively reading night after night.
The last book of our bedtime story session is always, always, always Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I started that tradition with Big Girl, and it worked so well that I had to do it with the twins. (At one point in their short lives, it became apparent to Buddy Twin that this was always the last book before bed. When I read the first line in the book, he would start to cry in anticipation. He's OK with it now because this book is such a favorite. He gets very excited when he sees it and says "My Moon! My Moon!")
Reading the same book every night does not have to be boring. My husband and I may have the lines memorized by now, but it doesn't matter because so do the babies. I prompt them to fill in the last words of each page, which makes it a game. Sometimes, I "sing" the story to them. And although it's a little harder with two kids in two cribs, I try a tradition I started with Big Girl: On each two-page color spread in the book, we have to find the mouse. The mouse is always in a different spot. It's like a little game at storytime.
Of course, Goodnight Moon isn't the only bedtime book worth reading, even if it is tops in our house. Some of our other favorites include this one:
When the World is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields has some really adorable watercolor illustrations by Anna Currey, and is a very easy, rhyming read that the kids love. We have the board book version. The story is about three little bunnies getting ready for bed and their routine, which is perfect to instill in little ones.We also like The Night Night Book by Marianne Richmond. The book is another rhyming story that says "night night" to many things, similar to Goodnight Moon.
Whatever book you choose as your signature "goodnight" story, it will surely became part of a child's memory. Big Girl still has her original copy of Goodnight Moon on her bookshelf because she will likely never part with it. I hope someday she reads it to her own children, as well as many other of our favorites, and continues the tradition we started 10 years ago.