We know that reading aloud to children has powerful impacts on their developing minds. We know that regularly reading to and with our kids can stimulate their imaginations, expand their vocabulary, strengthen our family bonds and create lifelong readers.

We also know that life is busy and that bedtime — the time of day when most of us read to the kids — can really, really suck.

But the next time you’re tempted to skip the bedtime story and just call it a night, take a moment to think back to your own childhood. Remember what it felt like to be safely tucked in bed, a trusted grown-up nearby, their voice bringing to life the words and characters of C.S. Lewis, E.B. White or Roald Dahl. Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume or Dr. Seuss. That feeling — of a child totally absorbed in a bedtime story being told to them by their person — is pure tingles-on-the-back-of-the-neck magical, right?

The stories we are told as children leave imprints on our brains and hearts. I know this is true because there are moments I am overtaken by emotion and have to catch my breath, sitting in the big chair, my daughters curled up on my lap and following along on the bumbling adventures of a certain silly old bear, or re-learning from the wise old Skin Horse what it means to be “real”.

From Winnie the Pooh to Nancy Drew, reading the stories of my childhood to my kids is a distinct kind of pleasure, one that makes me feel more connected to them. At the end of long, overwhelming days, these moments of connection and nostalgia can center me and remind me what’s important.

Still feeling uninspired? Wondering what to read with your kids? I reached out to AnaMaree Ordway, owner of Ye Olde Bookshoppe in downtown Wenatchee. Here’s what she said were the most-often requested children’s books in her store:

  1. Oh, The Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss
  2. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
  3. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
  4. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
  5. Harry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling

And here are the 10 favorite books that AnaMaree and Payton (9 years old) read together in the last year:

  1. Poppy, by Avi
  2. Nim’s Island, by Wendy Orr
  3. The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White
  4. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin
  5. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
  6. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  7. Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards
  8. Ida B:…and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World, by Katherine Hannigan
  9. Girl in a Cage, by Jane Yolen
  10. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo

That should get you going on your reading adventure. And now, let the wild rumpus start!