Bedtimes and books - a match made in heaven! There's nothing like a good bedtime read to get your little ones relaxed and ready for the grand old land of nod. So here at ASPACE, we've set out to find the best bedtime books children everywhere simply can't wait to get tucked in for. (Really, it happens!).
We teamed up with The Great British Bookshop to find the top ten bedtime books, and we're currently working with some of our favourite bloggers to whittle them down and find the best of the bunch! We've asked those involved to settle down and get cosy with their children, and let us know exactly what they think of the selection. Following this, we'll be granting the winner the "Best Bedtime Book Award"!
Budding bedtime readers will get the chance to comment on our top ten books in relation to certain criteria, such as their favourite parts, whether they found the message to be valuable and its effect on helping the little ones settle down for sleep.
As part of our campaign, we interviewed Rachel Lyon, author of I Wish I'd Been Born A Unicorn (which features on our list of top ten books). Take a look below for an insight into her book and her views on what makes an excellent bedtime read!
Donâ€™t forget to check back to find out which of our top ten books comes up trumps!
How long have you been writing childrenâ€™s books?
"I wrote my first picture book â€“ The Cautionary Tale of The Childe of Hale - in 2011 â€“ which was published by Maverick in 2013. Iâ€™ve been writing stories and rhyming poems since I was at primary school â€“ I always wanted to be a writer."
What inspired you to start writing childrenâ€™s books?
"It was a real eureka moment. I was reading about the life of The Childe of Hale - a well-known figure in Merseyside because, even though he died four hundred years ago, the inscription on his grave says he was nine feet three inches tall â€“ the stuff of legends! When I read that he used to sleep with his feet dangling through the windows of his cottage I thought â€˜wow - children would love that, someone should write his story for childrenâ€™! I checked that no-one else had, and I did. Iâ€™d never written a childrenâ€™s story in rhyme before, but as soon as I wrote the first line, â€˜There once was a man called the Childe of Haleâ€™â€¦it seemed obvious. I sent it to some publishers, and got a phone call asking me to go for a meeting. The most exciting moment of my life, and Iâ€™ve never looked back."
What was the inspiration behind I Wish Iâ€™d Been Born a Unicorn?
"Iâ€™m always looking for interesting rhyming phrases/ideas that could spark a story. The original idea was â€˜a horse with remorseâ€™, so I asked myself, what would a horse feel sorry or sad about? Perhaps he is lonely, or has low self-esteem? Eventually it grew into the story of Mucky, the scruffy, lonely horse, who wished heâ€™d been born a unicorn."
What do you think is the most important message for children that comes from reading I Wish Iâ€™d Been Born a Unicorn?
"Be yourself. Donâ€™t try to change to fit in with others. True friends will like you just the way you are."
I Wish Iâ€™d Been Born a Unicorn has made it into our top ten bedtime books; why do you think itâ€™s important to read to children at bedtime?
"The bedtime story is a very special time for parents and their children. Itâ€™s a real bonding experience. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of bedtime stories with my dad â€“ crying at Charlotteâ€™s Web, marvelling at James and the Giant Peach. Children learn so much from stories. Itâ€™s a safe way to explore the world and exercise their imaginations. Plus, if they learn to love books when theyâ€™re young, it will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Itâ€™s vital, I think."
Which 3 factors do you believe are essential to a good bedtime story?
"Ooh, thatâ€™s a good question. For the younger ones, simplicity is key. Anything too long, complex or rambling loses their interest â€“ and rhyme/repetition help hold their interest too. Good illustrations will draw a child into a book â€“ my daughter enjoys examining the pictures as much as hearing the words. Enjoyable, vivid characters are also a must â€“ you need a character that will get a response from them â€“ whether itâ€™s laughter, concern or curiosity doesnâ€™t matter â€“ as long as theyâ€™re interested."
What was your favourite bedtime book as a child?
"It would be a close call between Frank Muirâ€™s What-a-Mess and Richard Scarryâ€™s Please and Thank You Book (with characters like Pig Will and Pig Wonâ€™t, and Lowly the worm. I remember the illustrations and stories so vividly)."
What is your favourite bedtime book to read with your children?
"My little girl, Daisy, is two, and she loves rhyming stories as much as me. Her favourite would be Julia Donaldsonâ€™s Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose or One Mole Digging a Hole â€“ she knows them by heart. I love a book by Giles Andreae called I Love You, Little Monster â€“ about the love and hopes a parent has for their child â€“ itâ€™s beautifully written and I challenge any parent not to go misty eyed when reading it."
What are your plans for the future - is there a potential sequel to I Wish Iâ€™d Been Born a Unicorn?
"Thatâ€™s a thought! I will look into it. My next book, due out in May 2016, is about the Queen of the bunnies, who is rather spoiled and needs bringing down a peg or two. Itâ€™s called Not Enough for Queen Fluff, and Iâ€™ve tried to pack lots of humour and silliness into it. Iâ€™ve just finished another story that will hopefully be taken up by the publishers too. My plan is to keep writing books as long as people want to read them!"