I hated going to bed when I was little. I mean, seriously, what’s to like? It’s dark and kind of scary and maybe you’re alone in your own bedroom and you’re not even tired and there’s nothing to do and what’s that weird noise? You know your parents are downstairs having fun without you. There’s probably even cake. And why do grown-ups want to stay in bed so long in the morning? No, sleep was not something I looked forward to as a kid.
I remember it being completely foreign to me as a child that some animals slept all winter. How could anyone possibly sleep for that long? And why? Don’t they have to eat? What if they…you know…have to go? Do they hold it until spring? Hibernation, to me, was totally weird and yet…completely fascinating.
Around this time of year, as it gets reeeeaally cold around here in New England, customers start wanting a stack of picture books to snuggle up with on the couch or in bed. And for me, now that I’m older, on these dark winter nights sleeping until spring suddenly doesn’t sound so bad anymore. Looking through our shelves for cozy recommendations, I noticed just how many picture books touch on hibernation. I guess I wasn’t the only child completely captivated by this strange need to sleep all winter.
Jane Dyer’s Little Brown Bear Won’t Take a Nap! is a favorite recommendation of mine because it unites a child’s determination not to go to bed with the fact that all bears must hibernate in the winter. If little kids hate to go to sleep, what about little bears? Child readers can really relish in Little Bear’s rebellious adventures as he avoids his winter nap.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche’s A Story for Bear. We’ve talked about it here and here already, but it’s worth repeating because, in my opinion, this book does not get as much buzz as it deserves. And nothing is sweeter than this story-loving bear sleeping and dreaming all winter long among a den full of books.
I love Denise Fleming’s picture books not only for her unique handmade paper collage illustrations, but also because they explain nature and ecosystems in such an accessible way. In her book, Time to Sleep, the bear smells winter coming in the air, which sets off a chain reaction of animals telling other animals to prepare for the winter. Readers, both children and adults, will discover how each of the animals, from bears to snails and from skunks to ladybugs, all hibernate in their own way. A great bedtime read that’s educational as well as entertaining, Time to Sleep is the perfect book to get all readers in the mood for winter.
And what bears do all day when they’re hibernating? Are they asleep? Do they dream? In Kevin Henkes’ Old Bear, this bear has beautiful, vivid dreams all winter. Inside his dreams, the reader follows the bear as he frolicks through each of the four seasons until finally he awakes in the spring. The simple and colorful illustrations truly awaken the joy of all the seasons and offer that comforting reminder that even though the winter may be long and boring (just like going to bed at night sometimes feels) there is always a colorful spring to look forward to. And in the meantime, we can dream…and read!
Click here to purchase any of these exceptional bear picture books and save 15% off at checkout with the coupon code: BEAR until Friday, November 26, 2010.