0:37 Corrie: Hello and welcome back to the picture Bookstagang podcast! So this week.. We are feeling a little bit tired. Aren’t you feeling tired at this point in the pandemic too? You are. We all are. I am joined here by my two soothing co-hosts Ale and Kelly!
0:56 Ale: [ASMR VOICE] Hello everyone I’m Ale and I’m here to gently sing you lullabies to sleep
1:04 Kelly: [ASMR VOICE] Hello I’m kelly and I’m here to softly whisper your favourite stories to you until you drift off to dreamland
Corrie: ok well I am already going to pass out from your soothing voices. Hahaha You have probably guessed by now that our topic this week is bedtime stories. With the clocks turning back and the days getting shorter suddenly everything around bedtime for small humans is in hard mode so why not talk about some soothing sleepy tales.
1:34 Ale: sooooo….. The clocks turned back?! That explains why River said she wasn’t tired… there is something interesting I noticed when we were putting things together for this episode and it’s that actually most of our favourite bedtime books were mentioned in our Rhyming and Keepsake episode recently, I love a good rhyming book for bedtime. Something about farms and rhymes and moons, really gets things going, and I wonder if it’s kind of like, when you’re reading a book about food? And then you get really hungry? Maybe that’s why all these rhyming moon and farm at night time books are so good for sleepy time.
2:15 Kelly: Yeah I actually agree Ale. I mentioned several of our most beloved and consistent bedtime reads in Rhyming and Keepsake episode but there is definitely some more in our collection that I pulled out. For sure though there is definitely a common theme of rhythm and rhyme in those books that isn’t as consistent in the rest of our collection… and also farms
2:36 Corrie: There has to be something to it… like consistency and rhythm and predictability. It’s the routine of certain books or stories over and over that make them soothing too. Their little brain doesn’t have to work as hard… they know what to expect.
2:52 Kelly: Yeah – I think that’s a huge part of it. For like a solid year a while back our last book of the night was absolutely always the going to bed book by Sandra Boynton. It was like the signal that it’s time for sleep, no more asking for extra books, we all knew it by heart. It was just easy, soothing… predictable. It’s probably also no surprise given I just admitted we read the same book every night for like a year that my kid is a very routine oriented little human and we have a very set bedtime routine every single night too
Ale: we are total opposites kelly haha. I gotta be honest, I am actually really bad at putting my kids to sleep. I know that I’m the one that came up with this episode topic, as I was falling asleep, but as I sat down to write my own advice my husband reminded me that I am woefully unqualified because I am terrible at it. It takes me FOREVER to get the kids to sleep. But you know who is really good at it? My husband, and also, my dad. They can both always get my kids to go to sleep really quickly. I have to cheat and use breast milk. Or we just wear eachother out the kids and I and eventually we all pass out together after two hours.
4:41 Kelly: nursing the babes to sleep isn’t cheating ….that’s just smart. Haha. But I think the thing that your husband and I have in common is that we have kind of a set routine and the kids know what to expect and where the boundary is.
5:02 Corrie: routine is really helpful. When I was a counselor at a girl scout camp we always had the same routine for the kids, we would get everyone in their bunks and tell an oral story if it was a big cabin or sometimes read a book if it was a smaller group. Then we would all walk around and do a hug/handshake/high five and lights out. I think that helped the girls know what to expect and develop a new routine when they were there. It was also the same routine I had as a camper there, which was nice and nostalgic for me.
5:42 Kelly: but there is no one way that is right or wrong. For me personally because I am an anxious alligator I thrive on an amount of predictability and that might come from not having as much as I would have liked when I was a kid and wanting to provide that now. It works for us though, doing the same thing at the same time every night.
6:07Ale: I like the idea of a routine, very Mary Poppins, I just can’t. Well when my husband does the bedtime it means I actually get to have time off to myself at 8pm and that’s really nice because the days are long in a pandemic when we are home all the time. And I found out that there is research from the university of british columbia backs that up – routine and consistency are super helpful because it helps set internal sleep and wake rhythms. But there was some other interesting things that they outlined that help like incorporating mindfulness into bedtime
Corrie: some of the other tips – all of which we are going to link in the show notes – are about physical activity during the day, using white noise, making sure the room isn’t too hot, incorporating mindfulness into your bedtime routine and even your daily routine so help release worry, and avoiding screens for an hour before bed.
Kelly: This is us to a T. probably because in a sleepless cycle of desperation once upon a time I read literally all the tips everywhere online and just did all of them at once haha. Screens for sure aren’t allowed after dinner time we keep it to the daytime.
8:06 Ale: Which is funny because we have talked about this before and I do it exactly the opposite my kids use tv to wind down in the evening and I try to keep it off in the day I find that once I turn it on they’re obsessed with it, so I avoid it until it’s time to cook dinner. Every family is different and no matter what the tips say you just have to do what works for your family especially right now in this pandemic. Although what I do is not working.
8:57 Corrie: yeah like I also wonder if more people.. Including us, are focusing on this now because routines were disrupted and now they’re beginning to settle again – or at least settle into a new normal… and I feel like all of these tips are also helpful for me, an adult human that doesn’t have kids to put to sleep. (Also I have very frequent pandemic-related nightmares so I’ll pretty much try anything.) I fall asleep listening to a podcast, and we use a diffuser for nice smells. Not to cure our ailments…just to smell good.
9:39 Kelly: you are going to out us all as essential oil haters
Ale: I have never purchased essential oils, on principal, I wish the multi-level marketing and anti science crowd hadn’t made it so un-attractive because in the winter everything smells stuffy so it might be nice just for the smell.. I like nice smells….
9:56 Corrie: Yeah just for the smells haha
10:30 Ale: I also had a terrible dream last night about a giant spider on the ceiling. But more seriously as an adult I also use a podcast to help myself go to sleep ….I actually can never fall asleep on my own until I found a podcast called SLEEP CAVE. Which is a podcast that I can’t stop recommending to people, and people keep looking at me very suspiciously. It’s guided sleep hypnosis and meditation and I have to say, I find it very helpful. I promise he doesn’t sell you anything during the actual sleep hypnosis, or at least…I don’t think he does, but why have I been buying up all of these off brand multivitamins?….just kidding…pretty sure it’s safe…I haven’t bought anything weird yet and I never stop and cluck like a chicken when I hear a bell ring.
11:06 Kelly: bhahaha you were really concerned when you started that It’s totally true you hashtag influenced me and I tried it a few times but it wasn’t quite right for me. I was too uneasy listening to someone talk to actually fall asleep… so I actually started using a white noise machine at night and it’s been LIFE CHANGING. Our kid has always used one and he’s an incredible sleeper so I don’t know why I resisted for so long. It’s like my new cue to pass out and it is honestly how we get him to sleep so reliably every night.. The bath routine and books calm him down but he’s out in 10 minutes once the white noise goes on.
12:00 Ale: Isn’t that the one that just goes chhhchchchchchJFJJFJ
12:35 Corrie: The books though! The books. That’s what we really need to get down into. So in that vein of talking about incorporating mindfulness, I was reading an article in parents magazine while researching for this episode and there was a great quote from Cory Cochiolo, a meditation expert, hypnotherapist, and author of the forthcoming Bedtime Meditations for Kids: Quick, Calming Exercises to Help Kids Get to Sleep. And she said that Children’s needs are no different than adults’ in many ways – quote: “At bedtime especially, they have a fundamental need to feel safe and comfortable, to feel happy, to not be worried about anything, to feel loved. The key with any meditation practice is to try to create a warm, loving environment that they’ve participated in.” so books that incorporate that feeling of safety because of familiarity, or help them feel like they can release worry or focus on feeling some happy thoughts about the day help to foster that mindfulness concept with kids. I know all three of us love a beautiful book from Cottage Door Press called Mindful Moments at Bedtime. And Ale and I both have the Sleepy Pebble book from Flying eye which is lovely too. Very soothing. I liked how the mindfulness exercises were woven into the story and i think it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to start these practices but not sure what to do when.
14:30 Kelly: Ah! Yes now that you both have told me about the Sleepy pebble book I will have to track is now. Mindful moments at bedtime though… we are over the moon obsessed with that book. It was especially comforting because it incorporates into the story some of the bedtime questions we already ask at bedtime.. Which are what was your favourite part of the day, what was something you didn’t like so much, and what do you want to dream about tonight. Which are sort of simplified ways of working some gratitude in, giving an opportunity to talk about worries, and then setting an intention for a good night’s sleep. But all of those things and more are in this book, there is calming little mazes to trace with your fingers. It’s lovely
Ale: It’s a really nice book. But ya know The whole gratitude thing kind of feels weird to me though? something about telling kids to feel grateful rubs me wrong. Not that there’s anything wrong with feeling grateful maybe I’m totes off base. But something about it…doesn’t jive with me. Am I looking at this wrong?!
Kelly: ok well it’s not like a LOOK AT ALL THAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU CHILD FEEL GRATEFUL! It’s more about having some contentedness with your life and feeling joy and love for your family and the things you have or experience. It’s not like making your kid thank aunt urma for the ugly pajamas that no one would ever want ever anyway and then forcing them to wear them every day and be thankful for it. Or like forcing them to thank you constantly for giving them basic human necessities. It’s more like hey, look today we had a lovely day and the sun was shining and we got to visit and friend and aren’t we thankful for that! It was really nice… it’s a little more simple…. A positive mindset sort of thing. But still validating all the other feelings.
16:18 Corrie: yeah like the other idea that was in that parents article I referenced before was like playing a compliment game at bedtime and taking turns complimenting each other. And not like… you have nice hair. Things about who they are as a person so you could say “Hey you did some really great problem solving today” and they could say “you give great hugs” and go back and forth and just kind of fill up their love and gratitude cup before they go to sleep. I think we all know how easy it is to get into worry loops and you can just use something like that as a way to kind of interrupt that before bedtime and put them at ease.
Ale: ok I think that makes a little more sense. It’s more about leaving things positive then making them thank you for giving them dinner… right?!
17:32 Corrie: exactly, yes, haha
Ale: Haha. anyway so back to books again there is a few mindfulness books out there that are quite lovely, another one is Finding OM from Mango and Marigold press, the author Rashmi Bismark is a doctor which feels very official and reassuring. There is also “Follow Your Breath: a kids first book of mindfulness”, from kidscan press which is a good starting point. Which, I should add, both of those titles are in the running for the Bookstagang Best of 2020 awards!
Corrie: On that note, we should let everyone know more about the Bookstagang Best of 2020 list! So if you aren’t already aware this is our second year judging a bookstagram award list for the best picture books of the year. Last year was our first year, just this idea that popped out of Ale’s incredible brain into the world and she made it real and it was an incredible success!! This year is wildly out of control already we have gotten so many amazing submissions.
Ale: You think!? Haha. But for real, uh, yeah. This year is a lot bigger than last year. The publishers submitted a lot more titles in hopes of winning and we all have like a lot of reading to do… the competition is fierce.
19:12 Kelly: I am basically just living in amongst a pile of books at this point. Hahaha
Corrie: oh we all are, haha. I had to rearrange our bookpiles so they didn’t accidentally murder Lee.
Ale: It’s really amazing though because I have discovered some REALLY beautiful books through judging this that might not have been on my radar. Aaaaligator is one that the kids and I are now in love with and also works nicely as a bedtime story … it’s even got a lullaby in it.
Corrie: It’s a little bit more of an unconventional bedtime story though.
Kelly & Corrie: sing it, sing it, sing it!!
Ale: ok ok ok, first of all for context it’s a book about a town that doesn’t want this giant alligator around and the boy thats befriended him sings him this song: [SING IT. ]
21:16 Corrie: Ale you are so soothing
Kelly: I am ready to go to sleep now… and not eat people.
Ale: mission accomplished haha.
Corrie: so when we started discussing books that have little songs in them amongst our panel of bookstagang judges another best of book came up which was Arlo the lion who couldn’t sleep … really cute beautifully illustrated book that has a song in it that the owl sings to the lion to help him sleep.
Kelly: It’s soooo cute, and Kallan, who is @houstonlibraryfinds on instagram immediately said she sang it every time so I asked her the tune and she said she made up a new tune every time. I haven’t figured one out for it yet. I am a little bit particular though… like When I read “I’ll love you forever” by robert munch I sing it with his tune every time! We all sing it together snuggled in bed… I love it!
22:08 Ale: that book causes a lot of controversy but that is a very cute image and of course brings up something I am the most passionate about in the world… the importance of music!!! And this is such a huge topic really, for me because my specialty is teaching early primary and junior vocal music. That’s my..almost specialist? I’m one course away from the official title, and pay bump. anyways that’s neither here nor there, so a lot of my teaching experience has been teaching music, and one of the things I’ve always done is use picture books to teach music. One of the BEST things for it is finding books like Arlo or like Aaalligator, that have songs written out in the story and preferably NO predetermined melody. Because then you’re forced to make one up. Unless you’re some kind of monster that reads it dry. Haha
23:18 Corrie: who does that? Who read it dry!? Haha. But yes you have absolutely imparted on us the importance of singing with kids on many occasions
23:35 Ale: thats because to me Singing before kids go to bed is KEY to me, and something not everyone feels comfortable doing because they maybe are self conscious about their voice. But I would deeply encourage everyone to throw caution to the wind, and own your singing voice, and be proud of it. Like, body positivity, but with your voice. So many people suffer from feelings of singing inadequacy, and it deeply negatively impacts the ability for a child to get the early musical literacy exposure they need to become adults who can sing! And engage in musical activities. It also teaches kids that, they should be ashamed of their voice. That singing in public is embarrassing.
24:17 Corrie: I’m not like opposed to singing to kids necessarily it’s just not the most natural thing… and I don’t think it’s like self conscious it’s not not conscious at all? I will sing a little tune but a whole lullaby isn’t exactly like my thing? Which I think is ok too!
24:39 Kelly: Yeah, I feel like I need something to go off of. I’m not self conscious about my voice … I mean I am not a great singer but it’s all serviceable. I just need a tune to go off of because my brain doesn’t work in the way that just makes up a tune, ya know?! I will google a tune in a book. Hahaha. Or with alligator I will now use your tune forever and always now.
27:13 Ale: do I need to think of a tune for the Arlo the Lion book for you too? Maybe we will post it on the instagram. Haha. But like I do really believe anyone can sing! Anyone! Even my dad, who’s not the greatest singer.. but he sings anywhere, loudly. And I gotta say, definitely rubbed off on me. You do not have to be a good singer to teach your kid to sing, to be proud of singing, and to feel the joy of singing. And there are so many benefits to singing..like I’m going to stop right now because that’s not what this episode is about. But I’ll link some resources into the show notes for ya’ll.
28:00 Kelly: and it’s not that I don’t sing. I do. Actually, I just need like a prompt or a tune. If you asked my partner he loves it when I sing the Book Almost a Full Moon by Hawksley workman at bedtime. That book gets asked for a lot by the kiddo too. I adore it but It’s a song that I treasure anyway and my brain has a place to like work with it because I know the tune. But it is soothing. If that one is chosen as one of our three books at bedtime it’s usually the last one, the calm down one.
28:30 Corrie: yeah like I can sing rock a bye baby if I have to because I know it. Even if it’s a horrifying song. My mom used to sing me Crosby Stills and Nash when I was little, and their cover of Woodstock. So you know I have happy soothing memories with some songs. But they aren’t necessarily traditional.
29:12 Ale: awe Janzy is the best. And really, Whatever works. Just do it! Sing to your kids! Sing to your class! Do it!!! It’s so important.
29:32 Kelly: NOTED ok. Haha. so I actually asked on instagram what people’s favourite bedtime stories are! Several people had similar answers, there was lots of very nostalgic classics in there. A few of those suuuper fluffy nancy tillman titles were in there, All the world by Liz garton scanlon came up multiple times which somehow I have never read?! But anyway there was a controversial one that came up. Goodnight Moon
Ale: wasn’t this like the second ever librarian fight club I did?! People are divided on this book
Kelly: actually all I did was ask what your favourite bedtime read is and I literally got someone saying “NOT goodnight moon” ….there is some passion there. And… I kind of agree with that. Hahaha I do not like goodnight moon.
Ale: I do find it a bit strange but I also find it very hypnotic and soothing.
30:50 Corrie: I am not a fan of goodnight moon.. It feels like a drawn out attempt at not going to sleep.
Kelly: I agree, I am sorry but if you have time to say goodnight to a bowl of mush then you for sure have some annoyed parents standing by hahaha
31:14 Ale: I mean it’s a classic. It’s margaret wise brown. We can’t knock margaret wise brown
Kelly: I mean, I appreciate margaret wise brown but this one is just not for me and I couldn’t get rid of our copy fast enough. BUT on the note of what corrie said… there is a book, another book up for our best of 2020 awards… that is about going to bed and maybe stalling a bit but it’s SO charming. Bedtime for Sweet Creatures but Nikki Grimes from Sourcebook kids. It’s ownvoices… it’s soooo beautiful illustrated, and it’s utterly charming
Corrie: It’s a super sweet book and I love the animal mentions. It’s the epitome of a kid trying not to go to sleep but a mother having an answer for every attempt to stay awake.
Ale: I liked it! It was very poetic in like a poetry slam modern poetry sort of way, you know? Not in a traditional rhyming way. And I really loved the toddler’s facial expression, really mirror’s my own toddler Willow who does all of these things including climbing into bed with me at 3 am.
Kelly: I liked the low key real life parent annoyance that was sweetly worked into it. It’s also just a beautiful book illustration wise. But moving on… we might have to start wrapping things up and get to bed soon…
Ale: well because we go I think we need to mention that Sometimes books tackle the idea of the fears around bedtime, or like monsters… they can be a little alarming. One we got “Grobble Chops” is about a kid who is scared of going to bed because there’s a monster named grobblechops that will come to his room, and his dad is trying to talk him down. And it’s meant to be soothing. But the reactions I’ve gotten from it are kind of mixed. My kids sometimes like it, but sometimes River finds it too creepy. Anyways and creepy is totally not the vibe maybe we should be going for here? We want gentle, soothing, nothing with yelling. So books that work great in the day time, they do not transition well to night time always!
Kelly: Yeah I usually reserve a book like that until that particular fear pops up. But I have to say that particular book just didn’t work for us at all. The small human was terrified of the cover which is not what we are looking for at bedtime!
34:55 Corrie: Yeah no that’s not what you want at all. Overall I think it takes quite a bit to make a routine that’s both calming and beneficial for everyone. You have to work on it and find what works best for your family. I don’t think I’m super qualified for bedtime advice, but I have rubbed many little backs during quiet rest time in a classroom so they’ll fall asleep. Getting their little minds ready for sleep is key, I mean I need to do a lot to fall asleep so I can’t blame kids for needing that too.
34:20 Kelly: Yeah, I think thats exactly it, they are small humans, we need lots of love and calm brains to get to sleep and kids are no different. My favourite part of the day is when the three of us snuggle into bed and read together and then go through our evening questions and talk about what we will dream about. I hope it makes a memory that lasts, along with all those bedtime stories
Corrie: OK… we really all should be getting to bed… Ale will you sing us a lullaby after this?
35:12 Ale: on it. I wanna invite our friends to sing their favourite bedtime lullabies and tag us on instagram!
Corrie: Thats all for today for the Picture Bookstagang podcast! We hope you found some great bedtime reads today, everything we talked about will be linked in the shownotes as always. You can follow us on instagram @picturebookstagang… and be sure to hit that subscribe button on your favourite podcast service including apple, google, spotify, and amazon music! Be sure to leave a note on our instagram page and let us know… what are you reading?!
Doo doo doooooo dododo do do dooooo