If you want to get a good night’s sleep, the experts say, you should develop a bedtime ritual and stick to it. I’ve been heeding that advice since I was a very little girl, and the main ingredient in my bedtime ritual has always been stories. When I was very small, someone (usually my mother or grandmother) read the stories to me. Johanna Spry’s Heidi, was a particular favorite. When we reached the part where Grandfather and Heidi shared a glass of warm goat’s milk and fresh bread, invariably I would become very hungry, necessitating a trip to the kitchen for a glass of milk and some bread and butter of my own. I also clearly remember one of the “Little Golden Books” that had a picture of puppies on the cover, and I could never go to sleep until I had covered the book up with a blanket so the puppies wouldn’t get cold.
As soon as I was able to read on my own, I kept books and a flashlight under my pillow, so I could read well into the wee hours of the night – which usually turned out to be all of about 11:00. I’m sure I wasn’t fooling my mother at all, who was wise enough to play dumb about my late night reading under the covers. During this time, I remember devouring Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series, Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy and Tacy books, and Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. I also started surreptitiously reading Jane Eyre and Gone With the Wind at bedtime, because, at age 10, my mother thought I was too young for them. (I think I did fool her about that!)
I still go to bed with books – as a matter of fact, we had a power outage last summer and I took my book to bed, even though I couldn’t read it – just holding it helped me fall asleep! Crawling into bed with a good book remedies even the worst of days, and serves as a reward for a day well spent. I’ve probably never gone to bed without a book in my hand. I’m even pretty sure I took books on my honeymoon, although I can’t remember just how much reading I actually did! Books are my security blanket at night, my magic carpet away from the worries and concerns of the day, and my passport into a land of sweet dreams.
my current bedtime reading