“Soft closer of our eyes! Low murmur of tender lullabies!”
~ John Keats
Here is a collection of lullabies to read or to sing, at home or in a child care sleep room. These will create a tranquil environment and inspire readers with their exquisite illustrations. Enjoy and sweet dreams!
Seeger, Pete. One Grain of Sand: A Lullaby. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002
The illustrations in One Grain of Sand take readers on a dream-filled trip around the world. Linda Wingerter uses peaceful purples and blues to depict beaches, oceans, hills and plains as well as different homes and climates for people and animals. The lullaby captures how small we can feel in the world – like a drop of water in the sea, a snowflake in a storm, or a lonely star in the sky – but also how large the love of parents is for their children. Children will enjoy being transported to faraway places then returning home to the warmth of their beds and the embrace of their families. An activity to consider is to read the story and then play the lullaby as children paint using colours inspired by the book. Children can create images of their favourite part of saying good-night.
Gerber, Carole. Hush! A Gaelic Lullaby. Danvers, MA: Whispering Coyote Press, 1997
Marty Husted’s gorgeous illustrations provide such a perfect mirror for the words to Gerber’s adaptation of a traditional Irish lullaby. Baby fusses as a storm begins to brew, and is comforted by different members of the family after each person has finished tasks like bringing in the wash, collecting peat for the fire and rounding up the sheep in preparation for the bad weather. The dark colours of the artwork reflect both the feel of the gathering storm and baby’s anxiety. However, the colours take on a warm tone once the family is safe inside, and chatting by the fire. Baby can finally forget the storm and drift off to sleep – surrounded by parents, siblings and grandparents.
Daddy’s Lullaby. London: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2001
Daddy’s Lullaby is a very sweet story about a father who arrives home late from work, to find all of his family slumbering, except for baby. The two tip-toe through the house as Daddy contemplates all that he has. At the end of the story, Daddy and baby fall asleep together as he sings his own rendition of a familiar lullaby (Rock-a-bye Baby). I like this story because it speaks to the important role that fathers have in nurturing and caring for their children. While reading the book, encourage children to share what they love about their father.
Titherington, Jeanne. Baby’s Boat. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1992
Baby’s Boat is illustrated with soft purple pastel drawings. Both pictures and lyrics capture thoughts that parents may have about their precious baby achieving new milestones and moving toward independence, and the dreams of ‘one day’ that children begin to have as they grow. The refrain is, “Sail baby, sail, far across that sea. Only don’t forget to sail back again to me.” Readers are reminded that no matter where your dreams may take you, you are always your parents’ child, and you always have a home in the hearts of those who love you.
Saport, Linda (illustrator). All The Pretty Little Horses: A Traditional Lullaby. New York: Clarion Books, 1999
This is a very moving lullaby with its origin in the American South. Saport’s vibrant illustrations depict a mother and baby, horses, coaches and cakes– images that evoke, as she writes, “that dreamy time when a child is drifting off to sleep and anything seems possible”. Pictures of mother and baby are contrasted with those showing baby engaging with various playmates of her dreams, including bakers, birds, bees and lambs. As the lullaby concludes, mother rocks baby in her cradle while the dreamy, pretty horses gallop across a moonlit sky.
Long, Sylvia. Hush Little Baby. San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle Books, 1997
Sylvia Long has created a distinctive rendition of this traditional lullaby, by changing the words a bit to focus on nature, in order “to encourage children to find comfort in the natural things around them and the warmth of a mother’s love.” Adults and children will enjoy searching in Long’s charming and beautifully detailed illustrations for hummingbirds, crickets and shooting stars. Children can draw their own pictures, inspired by Long’s images. An attractive display could be created by arranging children’s drawings to look like a quilt.