Nighttime is a magical time for kids. It’s a time for exploring the night skies. It’s a time for dreaming cozy dreams. It’s a time of mischief when it comes with the thrill of being allowed to stay up late.
Nighttime picture books have always had an allure for me because of the topics they explore and the amazing and varied art by illustrators challenged with the task of drawing the dark. Such gifted people!
Here is a list of ten remarkable nighttime picture books. Enjoy!
written by Jane Yolen
illustrated by John Schoenherr
A Caldecott Award winning book in which a father and daughter take a nighttime walk in the woods in search of owls. Beautiful sensory descriptions of nature and a lovely parent/child story.
written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
illustrated by Brian Deines
Kids Can Press, 2000
Two young sisters experience the thrill of hiking on a winter night beneath a glimmering “Grandmother Moon,” with glimpses of wildlife and a final surprise: dancing Northern Lights. Gorgeous language and wonderful sibling book.
If You Were Night
written by Muon Thi Van
illustrated by Kelly Pousette
Kids Can Press, 2020
A beautiful book with echoing phrases that challenge little nighttime explorers to dream of what they would do if they were night. There is so much to savor about this book with its delicate paper cut illustrations and tiny woodland creatures. Such a dreamy feel!
If You Were the Moon
written by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Jaime Kim
Millbrook Press, 2017
Poetic and lyrical with wonderful, kid-friendly illustrations, this nighttime read is actually nonfiction in disguise! It boasts layered text: a dreamy story line supported with a whole host of fun facts about the moon. A real treat.
The Tinaja Tonight
written by Aimée M. Bissonette
illustrated by Syd Weiler
Albert Whitman, 2020
The desert is dry, dusty, and hot, hot, hot during the day; but nighttime is a different story. At night the desert comes alive and its thirsty residents emerge, searching out the cool waters of the tinaja. With layered text, this book works well as a read aloud and in the classroom. Weiler’s art is magical.
written by John Coy
illustrated by Peter McCarty
Henry Holt, 1996
A darkening sky, a long journey, the safe feeling of riding in a car with Dad behind the wheel. This is a warmly told, nostalgic story, illustrated incredibly in black and white. Who doesn’t love a road trip?
Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky
written by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
Is darkness truly black? Not to Vincent Van Gogh. This beautifully illustrated picture book biography introduces young readers to an incredible artist who danced to the beat of his own drum.
Always Looking Up:
Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer
written by Laura Gehl
illustrated by Louise Pigott and Alex Oxton
Albert Whitman, 2019
A picture book biography about one of my favorite women of science — the Mother of the Hubble Telescope. Perfect for young readers who dream big dreams. Nancy Grace Roman was a champion of persistence.