Martin Waddell’s classic book “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?” has been one that I have read to Baby Eva on many occasions before she is put down to sleep for the night. I even read it to her a couple of times before she was born. The story is a wonderful one about a little bear who is afraid of the dark. Big Bear tries to help Little Bear get to sleep by chasing away the dark with a series of lanterns, each bigger than the next. Finally there is no dark left in the cave and Little Bear is still afraid. Little Bear is afraid of the “dark all around us” and he points to the opening outside the cave. Big Bear and little bear go out into the night to confront the dark. Little Bear falls asleep in Big Bear’s arms.
This book is great for a couple of reasons. For one thing the book repeats specific phrases and the illustrations by Barbara Firth are matched to the story. Young readers can predict what will happen and by repeating phrases they can join in and repeat with you as you read aloud to them. I remember as a child I memorized the books that my parents read to me and would “read” them back to my parents. Reinforcing reading skills to your child will only help them grow smarter in their lifetime.
The second thing I liked very much about this book was the message. Underlying everything, the message was that Big Bear is there to keep Little Bear safe and warm and secure. As parents we are called upon to be that stable force of love in our children’s lives and reassure our children even if fears might seem to be unfounded. Big Bear was trying to read his book while Little Bear kept interrupting his reading. Much like my own Baby Eva kept who kept crying while I worked on this post. In the book Big Bear stopped what he was doing and went to Little Bear, he listen to Little Bear’s fears and took action to reassure Little Bear. Here at home I picked up Baby Eva, I snuggled her a bit, I talked to her, I played her some music, I tried to calm her with her swing, then an interactive toy, anything. But what it came down to was a few minutes in my arms in a rocking chair just being held tight in my loving arms. Oh and some Jimmy Buffett on her iCrib is helping her stay calm and secure.
Take a moment to listen to your child today. And if you are so inclined pick up “Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?” from your local library or you can purchase the book and DVD from Amazon.com.
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