If you’re a parent and your child is afraid of the dark, then you probably find yourself in your child’s room more often than in your own throughout the night. You startle awake to the staring eyes of a toddler standing next to your bed. You have assured and reassured your youngster that there is no monster in the closet, no thunder in the sky, and, my favorite, no man-eating skunks in the woods outside. You soon begin to remember that all too familiar feel of sleep deprivation that you brought home along with your sweet newborn, and that it does not do a body good.

If you are like me, then you too have been going through the motions of sleep, waking, sleep, waking, sleep waking for six weeks straight.

There’s a satirical book that parents like us passed around earlier this year, a profanely titled New York Times bestseller by Adam Mansbach. After six weeks of little sleep I could relate, privately, to the book’s inappropriate refrain.

I was tired. I was yelling. It was time to renounce the anger. I started thinking, “What would Elmo do?”

So, I smiled. And I hugged. And we read: books about night, books about the dark, books about animals in the woods, and books about being scared. And we talked. Then, we quietly said goodbye to monsters, thunder, and man-eating skunks and started saying hello to uninterrupted sleep once again. And I smiled some more.

Some of the helpful books we read together:

“I’m not scared” by Jonathan Allen

The Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss

Bear Feels Scared by Karma Wilson

Can’t You Sleep Little Bear by Martin Waddell

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems

Tell Me About Your Day Today by Mem Fox

Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long

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