I've recently finished two really good books with the kids - one with each of them. It is hard to find good read aloud bedtime stories. My kids don't like things that are too scary as bedtime stories. They say it makes it hard to settle and go to sleep. I can see their point: my book club is reading Slade House, by David Mitchell, this month and I doubt I'll finish it because I've discovered I can't read it right before bed or I'll have weird, creepy dreams. It is a beautifully written book, but it has a way of worming its way into my subconscious that just doesn't work for bedtime reading.
Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good bedtime books for the kids, and these two are good enough I want to share!
The kids and I went to see Greg Van Eekhout, the author of The Voyage of the Dogs, give a reading at our local bookstore. It is set in a future in which humans and dogs can understand each other, and there are dog astronauts - barkonauts. The story is about what happens when a crew of barkonauts awakens from stasis to find the human crew on their ship gone. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book, so I was glad when Petunia decided we should read it together at bedtime. The author told us at the reading that all the dogs survive, so Petunia didn't mind the tense bits. (And knowing this in no way detracts from the book, so if you have a kid who would worry about that, too, go ahead and tell them.) The characters are wonderfully drawn. The dogs are dogs, not humans in dogs form, if you know what I mean. And I loved their problem-solving. This is such a fun book - I recommend it highly, even if you don't have a kid to read it to.
Finding bedtime stories for Pumpkin is getting harder and harder. She reads Harry Potter and other high-tension books to herself, but wants gentler stories for bedtime. The Anne of Green Gables books were perfect, although she asked to stop Rilla of Ingleside because the build up to WWI was too much for her. On a whim, I picked up a book my in-laws gave me years ago, that has been sitting on my "to read" pile. The 10 p.m. Question, by Kate Di Goldi, is a wonderful story of a 12 year old boy finding his way in the world. His family is a little odd, and what exactly is going on with his family is part of what you discover while you read. Frankie, the main character, has a lot of anxiety, and I really liked how the author made that just one of the things about a really interesting and likeable boy. I think this is a fine story for an 11 year old, and maybe even a little younger, but be aware that there are some adult themes. Nothing really detailed, but I did have to tell Pumpkin what a prostitute is or one small section of the story wouldn't have made as much sense. But I think I could have just breezed past that part and it wouldn't have mattered: It isn't central to the story.
In writing about these two books, it occurs to me that one of the reasons I liked them so much is they both have really great endings. The authors both do a great job of bringing their stories to a close while also leaving enough of an opening for you to think about what might come next for the characters. I really like it when a book does that!
Do you have any good bedtime story suggestions? Put them in the comments!