Caring for skinned knees, teaching a child to ride a bike, and reading a bedtime story are part and parcel of being parents. The nighttime ritual of reading books to children is a wonderful routine to get into. A bedtime story session is beneficial for both parents and children. Bedtime stories forge bonding moments and open the door to heart-to-heart discussions with our little ones. The problem about all this often lies with the pleading requests for parents to read “just one more book”. How can parents gently finish the bedtime story session without seeing teary eyes but sleepy eyes that know the day is over and it is time to say good-night? Add one last step to your bedtime routine with your preschool child. One that signals firmly that now it’s time for sleep. Each evening finish the day, yes with one last story, but one that takes one minute to read and signals sleep time. Carol Gray’s book, The Last Bedtime Story: That We Read Every Night, should be kept at the ready next to your child’s bed.
Who is Carol Gray? Carol Gray is the social skills expert. She is the one who developed Social Stories™ and Comic Strip Conversations, strategies that are used worldwide with children, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Carol formed a partnership with James Markus, a photographer in Grand Rapids Michigan, and the resulting children’s picture book, The Last Bedtime Story, is simply beautiful! A family of four participated as the illustration models and James Markus’s “just right before sleep” illustrations in subdued colors bring Carol’s carefully chosen words to life… and kids to sleep! What a simple solution to end bedtime arguments!
All educators agree that introducing the love of books can never take place too early…you even hear of pregnant mothers reading to their unborn child! Bedtime stories are a great way for parents of children with special needs to sneak in those Social Stories™ that will prepare a child for a new event the following day. It is an excellent time to read books on the topics being taught at school. Children with autism or Asperger’s will love books on their special interests. However this winding down activity has to end peacefully and hopefully with a child a few minutes away from sleep. The Last Bedtime Story: That We Read Every Night will be the nightly ritual that will tell the child’s body and sleep switch in his brain it is ready to drift off to sleep.
Each night your child will hear the same rhythmic and rhyming sentences and he should experience the calm and relaxation it brings. The sweet, reassuring words should make him feel safe, secure and allow his body to understand that this is the place where you rest and it is time to go to sleep. The story starts this way:
“When the lights go out,
and all is still,
and all ‘good-nights’ are said…
someone is there to keep me safe
after I’m in bed.”
The book closes with an autograph page. Each person “signs in” when they read the story for the first time. I would say to do this BEFORE reading the story because it will break the tranquil mood you are trying to create if this signing event takes place at the end of the story. With time, the list of key people in your child’s life will be documented in the book making this a great souvenir of his early years.
So first your child goes through his bedtime routine leading up to going to his room at the same time each night. Then he goes in the same sleeping space he uses every night that has no electronic games a flickering and beeping. At sleep time, the room is cool, peaceful and, at lights-out, it’s relatively dark to induce sleep. Knowing no amount of pleading will make you read another story, hopefully it will be like Carol Gray’s words,
“It happens the same almost every night after I’m in bed…
The room is still and lights go out after this story is read.
My mom or dad may stay awake for just an hour or two.
That’s because they go to bed later than I usually do…
The morning will come through my window soon with a day for me to explore.
And each day will end with this story, like it did the night before.”
About the Author
Carol Gray is the Director of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has completed over 22 years of employment with Jenison Public Schools in Jenison, Michigan, initially as a teacher with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and in recent years as a consultant to students with ASD in inclusive educational programs. In 1991, Carol developed Social Stories™ and Comic Strip Conversations strategies that are used worldwide with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). She has published several resources on topics related to children and adults with ASD, including articles on bullying, death and dying, and how to teach social understanding. She is the recipient of the Barbara Lipinski Award for her international contribution to the education and welfare of people with ASD. She is excited to reach out beyond the ASD world, to now reach ALL children, and say goodnight to them.
Read my review of her Revised and Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition: Over 150 Social Stories that Teach Everyday Social Skills to Children with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, and their Peers with a foreword by Tony Attwood. A CD to enable you to revise and print the Stories is included.
About the Illustrator
James Markus worked in the Creative Services department of the Grand Rapids Press (Daily circulation about 140K, Sunday about 190K) as an advertising photographer for 20 years. In October of 2008 he left and started his own studio. James began taking photography seriously while very young and in the previous forty years has managed to maintain his passion for this fascinating art. He excels at many types of photography, and strives for excellence in all his work. James was voted top photographer in Grand Rapids Michigan in 2008. Check out his web site.
One of his illustrations for The Last Bedtime Story has been used as a cover on the trade publication”Creative Play Retailer’s” May, 2012 edition.
Buy the Book:
Buy The Last Bedtime Story from Future Horizons and get 15% off PLUS free delivery in continental USA! Add the coupon code KIDCOMPANIONS when you checkout of the store for discounts!