What’s your family bedtime routine?

posted in: Aaron Zenz | 5

I’m sure your children are angelic delights but I have been known to declare my own M and J “monsters” when they’ve done something particularly mischievous, especially at the end of the day when my energy is running low and the kids know how to make the most of the situation 😉

monstersgonightnightWhilst one of my own little monsters is always very happy to be tucked up in bed after bedtime reading, the other is forever making excuses to stay up a little bit longer causing just a little bit more havoc, preferably with paint brushes, comic strips or clay and tissue paper… And so when my online buddy from Michigan, author and illustrator Aaron Zenz (@AaronZenz), alerted me to his new picture book, Monsters Go Night-Night, I was keen to see what insight he could share when it comes to dealing with a variety of monsters at bedtime.

For us bedtime routine normally looks like this:
1. Mum listens to The Archers (a love-it or loath-it radio soap from the BBC which has been going for 65 years)
2. Both Playing by the book Monsters have showers and get into their pyjamas
3. Mum or Dad reads to both Monsters for 45 minutes
4. Monster J reads to herself for 30 minutes whilst Monster M tries to eat us out of house and home with bedtime snacking on toast and walnuts.
5. Monster J brushes her teeth, a parent sings to her and Monster J falls quickly to sleep.
6. Monster M eats more toast. Cracks open a new jar of paint. Cuts up more magazines. Creates new stains on the kitchen table.
7. Monster M and her father get into great debates about anything from Percy Jackson to school uniform rules.
8. Mum puts foot down and says it is bedtime.
9. Monster M flutters eyelashes at Dad and continues debating with him.
10. Mum puts her other foot down and says it REALLY IS BEDTIME.
11. Monster M groans and moans and reluctantly drags herself upstairs to brush her teeth.
12. Monster M reads for 30 minutes until finally, FINALLY! her eyelids drop and she drops off to sleep. HURRAH!

Zenz’s monsters do things a little differently. Yes, they have a snack… but just what do you think they nibble on? Let’s just say it’s something that doesn’t feature on many restaurant menus! Yes, they take baths… but somehow it involves something something sweet and sticky… and definitely not conducive to cleaning out belly-button fluff!



It’s certainly bedtime, but not as we know it. Funny, surprising, just every so slightly anarchic, Zenz’s monster bedtime routine will get you and your own little darlings having great fun re-imagining a different route to the land of nod.

Full of giggle-inducing silliness, the question and answer format invites reader and listener to play a delightful guessing game and enter into animated conversation with each other. The monsters are the perfect variety for young bedtimes, with all the cuteness you can muster (and not a hint of terror, unless tubas frighten you), full of smiles, and big doe eyes (often lots and lots of them), and limbs of all varieties ready for monster hugs and tickles. Zingy colours inject further energy and pizazz into this joyous book, which ends on a note likely to ensure giggling dreams of delight.


I’d love to have seen Zenz’s monsters including books in their bedtime routine (for example, as advocated by Booktrust’s recent #BathBookBed campaign), but at least with Monsters Go Night-Night YOU can include a very funny book and some rather adorable monsters in your own bedtime routines.

Whilst my own monsters are a bit older than the target audience for Monsters Go Night-Night it’s proved a big hit with everyone at Playing by the Book. “The pictures are SOOOOOOOOO adorable!!!!!!!!“. So imagine their delight and amazement when Aaron offered to Zenzify two of my girls’ monsters; they felt very lucky indeed. Here’s the before and after shots:

M's monster (L) and Aaron's wonderful interpretation
M’s monster (L) and Aaron’s wonderful interpretation
J's monster (L) and Aaron's version which elicited a huge "Awwwwwww" from J :-)
J’s monster (L) and Aaron’s version which elicited a huge “Awwwwwww” from J 🙂

M and J then decided they wanted to pay homage to Aaron and his monsters by making their own Monsters Go Night-Night PJs.

Plain white leggings, t-shirts and a selection of fabric pens and paints were supplied and they were off:


One ironing session later, and the kids were ready to get changed for bed:


Bedtimes just got a load more fun!

Whilst my own monsters decorated their pyjamas we listened to:

  • Goodnight by The Laurie Berkner Band with Brady Rymer and Susie Lampert
  • Hush Little Baby by The Bluegrass Babies
  • There’s a Monster in My House by Eric Herman

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Monsters Go Night-Night include:

  • Downloading and colouring in some of Aaron’s card illustrations
  • Letting the family loose with a packet of stick-on googly eyes. Everything is better with googly eyes.
  • Using the question/answer format with a choice of answers to create your own (alternative) bedtime routine books. I’d fold some paper in half, staple together and then use photos of the kids, their own drawings or a mixture of both.

  • Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by my friend Aaron Zenz. Today’s post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of Monsters Go Night-Night. Here are all the stops on the tour – do check them out, as they’re all on amazing blogs you really ought to know about, run by fabulous advocates of great children’s books:

    Mon Aug 15 – Watch. Connect. Read.
    Tues Aug 16 – 100 Scope Notes
    Wed Aug 17 – Nerdy Book Club
    Thu Aug 18 – Sharpread
    Fri Aug 19 – All the Wonders
    Sat Aug 20 – Playing by the Book: That’s me!
    Sun Aug 21 – Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)
    Mon Aug 22 – A Fuse #8 Production

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