Lit for Little People: Bedtime Stories for the 21st Century

Been a while since you've read to the kiddies? From Shades of Black to cows on strike, Meera Bowman-Johnson flags the stories that'll give your children the sweetest dreams.

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The Lord’s Prayer by Tim Ladwig

The other night at bedtime, while saying the Lord’s Prayer, my son asked me if “daily bread” meant he could have a sandwich. I’m hoping that the text of this special Biblical prayer will help explain things a little better. Featuring the familiar words accompanied by exceptional paintings depicting a young girl and her father befriending an elderly neighbor, the tale is rendered with clarity and simplicity without being overbearing. Hopefully, when presented in a new light, my son will understand that yes, the food we eat each day is indeed a blessing. But no, Mommy is not going downstairs to make a PB&J at 8:45 p.m. God loves you. Now go to sleep.

Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin

Now, before you start wondering, “What is a book about animals doing in here?” just hear me out. Civil rights leaders would be impressed by this Caldecott Award-winning book—a favorite of all three of my children—that offers a lesson in peaceful protest. When Farmer Brown’s cows realize they’re being taken for granted, they decide to organize. After hijacking an old typewriter, they leave a curt note on the barn door letting their owner know that they’re far from happy with the way things are going down. Much to Brown’s dismay, his articulate cows go on strike, and he is forced to make amends. With the help of an impartial duck, the striking cows and Farmer Brown reach a peaceful compromise that would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud. My kids can’t stop giggling whenever I read this book and neither can I. Even though words like “ultimatum” might throw younger listeners for a loop, the bovine hard-headedness in Click, Clack, Moo will capture (and hold) little listeners’ attention from start to finish. Who could ask for more than that?

Meera Bowman-Johnson is a regular contributor toThe Root.