The Beauty of Bedtime Stories


Tonight was my first night of spring break (I went home early - lucky me!) and I spent it sprawled in my mother’s bed - much like I did when I was ten years younger - listening to her read me a bedtime story. In my hurried college life, I had forgotten how poignantly beautiful literature could be when it wasn’t being forced upon by an academic institution. As I curled up and read Kevin Hankes over my mother’s shoulder, I was reminded of a simpler time and the stressless life that came with it.

I should preface this article by clarifying that I am, of course, an English major. And, in case you are afraid that this is a push for a return to reading, let me be clear that, indeed, it is. But this is so much more than that. This is a call for a return to simplicity, a call to take back  time to focus on you. And what better time to approach this idea than at spring break?

For me, the need for internal focus comes at the end of the day. My days tend to be filled with crazy amounts of homework, classes, various jobs and extra-curriculars. At the end of the night, I’m absolutely exhausted. The idea of adding one more thing to that schedule almost seems overwhelming.

But tonight, when my mom closed the book, I felt undeniably calm. The stress of midterms had driven me over the edge, but all of a sudden, that stress was gone, done-zo, kapoof. Just fifteen minutes of time away from the stress of studies left me refreshed and happy. It’s the perfect way to fall asleep, clean and ready for sleep.

Books are my personal escape. For other people, an escape may come in the form of journaling, yoga, knitting or drawing. But taking a break to focus on you - and you alone - is important. This doesn’t mean the process has to be lonely. Sometimes my bedtime relief comes in the form of deep conversation with my roommate. Tonight, i happened to share it with my mother.

It’s been a long time since I’ve imbibed in my nighttime reading ritual. But I’m making a commitment to take a break daily, preferably at night, and I’d like you to join me. To get you started, I’ve provided a list of my five favorite bedtime books - the stories I personally return to night after night, year after year, an escape from one reality to another.

As you  head off to break, focus on the reviving spirit you garner in moments of relaxation. And then make a spring resolution to incorporate similar relaxing moments into your daily life and before you head to bed. Focus on the simple, focus on the you, and watch the stress slip away.



Here are my favorite bedtime stories:

1) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

By far my favorite book, The Little Prince explores what it means to grow up, explore and foster relationships. I read it two to three times a year, and each time it resonates with me in a new and different way.


2) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgsen Burnett

There’s something hauntingly memorable about little Mary’s forray into the depths of her deceased aunt’s garden that sticks. This was my first chapter book and still one of my favorites.


3) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Resolvingly witty, and delightfully different.


4) Anything by Toni Morrison

Ambitious readers can start with Beloved, but they’re in for a complicated ride. I highly recommend a simpler (though the word ‘simple’ never applies to Morrison’s work) novel for the beginner, like The Bluest Eyes.


5) Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

I just finished it and its fantastic. I’d describe it more, but you really just need to read it.


*Photo Credit: