Every night, it's the same drills at our house. A never-ending pattern of tooth-brushing and pyjama-changing. It's like the myth of Sisyphus, a mom and a dad doomed for eternity to push a rock up to the top of a hill, only to watch it come rolling back down. But of course, it's not eternity. It's just a few short years until they brush and change themselves, start to read to you, and eventually close the door after dinner and hang a big "Parents Keep Out" sign on their door.
However, until then, what to do to make the rituals more entertaing, stay in the moment, and not despair over your own need to pay the bills or catch up on the latest update on "Lost." I hope you don't feel tricked if I tell you that bedtime will always be bedtime. Kids thrive on routine, and actually, the more you do that's the same (same order, same time) will help get them to sleep better.
However, there is one area within your control, and that is which book you have to or get to read.
Personally, I always liked to read Goodnight Moon, and one of my favorites is Good NIght Fred. Good Night Moon is more sentimental and strangely poignant. Good Night Fred uses Sesame Street characters and is actually funny with kids below four years old.
I have now read two Harry Potter books with my eight year old girl. I can't say it's great literature, but it's better than a lot of the Scholastic books she brings home. And it fuels our discussions for days because the characters are so vivid. They say that beyond book Three or so, you have to watch out since the themes become ever more dark, and are really too chilling for little kids.
What are your favorites? Do you hate or love Winnie the Pooh (hate him now except for the Heffalump-chasing scene). Have you tried the classics or do you stick with the bestsellers. Do the rhymes in Madeline drive you to insanity? Have you read enough Go Dog Go to last a lifetime?
Reading to your kids is one of life's great pleasures and has been proven over and over to benefit kids and make them better learners and future readers. With so many great books to choose from though, there's no reason why you can't enjoy yourself along the way. Remember though, if it's on the shelf, you're at the mercy of your little kid's choices, and he'll sometimes be happy reading the same thing for week straight.