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The Naptime Book

The Naptime Book

by Cynthia MacGregor

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Cynthia MacGregor has won the hearts of thousands of parents with her parenting classics. In The Naptime Book, she shares sweet, simple, and effective suggestions to help children get their all-important sleep during the day. Current medical thinking indicates that small children should get at least nine hours of sleep at night and a nap during the day.


Cynthia MacGregor has won the hearts of thousands of parents with her parenting classics. In The Naptime Book, she shares sweet, simple, and effective suggestions to help children get their all-important sleep during the day. Current medical thinking indicates that small children should get at least nine hours of sleep at night and a nap during the day. Alarming statistics show that sleep deprivation can lead to countless health, cognition, and social problems. Cynthia MacGregor can help transform naptime into a treat both children and their caregivers look forward to every afternoon, leading to happier, healthier children and more joyful families.

The Naptime Book is full of creative, playful ways to help children relax. Plus the hundreds of story-time activities, quiet games, riddles, and rhymes in this little book will help develop language and number skills. And what book on naps would be complete without a chapter called "Time Out for Mom, Too!" Adults who care for small children all day need to take time for themselves. MacGregor suggests ways to use this time to your own best advantage.

A sweet little book, with illustrations throughout, The Naptime Book is perfect for busy parents, tired teachers, and perplexed day-care professionals.

The Naptime Book offers creative solutions to the challenge of naptime as well as a unique opportunity to foster closer relationships with young children. It's a book bound to become dog-eared with repeated use.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This compendium of pre-naptime rituals is designed to help parents and caregivers expand their repertoire from the "story and a song" routine. A follow-up to MacGregor's earlier Night-Night, this volume aspires to overcome kids' resistance to naptime and to reinforce the importance of good napping for preschool-aged children. Because of its focus on younger children's naptime needs, The Naptime Book relies on simpler stories and games than MacGregor's earlier book. It also offers games and activities that promote fundamental concepts such as color, numbers, and senses. The poems and silly songs included here are probably the least useful section of the book—why not use familiar Mother Goose rhymes rather than these new, hard-to-remember verses? Storytelling exercises that focus on the family (telling stories about the parent's childhood, for example, or well-known stories from the family history) can foster communication and closeness, even if sleep is not the ultimate goal. Many of the guessing games and quiet activities could also be used with great success on long car trips and on rainy afternoons. 2003, Conari Press, Ages Adult.
—Norah Piehl

Product Details

Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Naptime Book

By Cynthia MacGregor

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2003 Cynthia MacGregor
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-741-5


Relaxing Story Activities

The traditional pre-sleep ritual at night is a bedtime story. Certainly, if you're going to do something soothing for your child before a nap, you can't go amiss with a story then either. But as I pointed out in my book Night-Night, there are many other things that a parent can do for and with a child in lieu of telling her a story; and even if storytelling is your choice of activity, you needn't confine yourself to the traditional reading of a favorite fairytale or other story or book. There are plenty of other types of storytelling activities you can engage in with your child. This section of The Naptime Book offers some suggestions.

Magic Truck Ride

Take your child on a magic truck ride all over the world—without his leaving his bed. The only fuel you need to drive this truck is your imaginations. Though it isn't necessary, you can wear some kind of hat—even just a simple bill cap—and tell him it's your truck driver's hat. Then get him onto his bed, settled in for his nap, and tell him to close his eyes so he can see the pictures in his mind more clearly;

Now describe the truck pulling away from the curb (suitable vroom, vroom, roarrrrr noises would help here), and then describe the magic truck leaving the ground and flying up into the air! Describe, at first, your house, which the truck is now hovering over, and then your street, including familiar details.

Then, as the magic truck reaches the end of the street, let the views become more fantastic. Instead of your flying over the familiar next block of houses and ordinary trees, describe trees with purple leaves or orange leaves with yellow polka dots or perhaps with candy canes or lollipops growing on them. Or perhaps, if it's winter in reality, the trees in the next block are in full bloom and warmed by a hot, summery sun.

That next block might be filled with houses made of spun sugar or with palaces, or perhaps there's a mountain or the ocean.

You can end the truck ride after describing just a few more scenes, or you can go further with it, but at some point if your child is not yet asleep tell him, "Now you're going to drive the truck yourself until you fall asleep. Just lie there and think of all the sights you want to see from the truck's windows. Sleep well."

The magic truck can take you and your child on many rides, seeing different sights each time—or returning over and over to some of the ones your child has loved the most in past expeditions.

The Wacky Helicopter

The wacky helicopter is a "cousin" to the magic truck (see page 13), but while the magic truck will take your child to places where she sees fantastic sights, the wacky helicopter will take her places where she has wonderful adventures.

Each time the helicopter takes off (suitable noises, please: whappa whappa whappa whappa), your child is off on another adventure. Will she meet friendly beings from outer space? Will she meet Bigfoot and learn the "monster" is really a shy and scared soul? Will she be transported back to the time of Robin Hood and help Robin outwit the Sheriff of Nottingham? Will she be part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and win fame for her rope tricks? Or join the circus? Or be the creator of some wonderful new invention for which the world will thank her and award her a medal? Or meet up with one of her favorite book or story characters and have a quiet conversation with Hansel or Chicken Little or Pinocchio?

All it takes is a ride in the Wacky Helicopter—and a good imagination. Well, two good imaginations: yours and hers.

Alternate Endings

This activity is very simple: Read a story to your child or tell her an old favorite you know by heart. Then ask her "Suppose ..." and set up a change in the storyline: Suppose the slipper had fit some other girl before the prince got to Cinderella. Suppose the witch's oven didn't work (or was too small for Hansel and Gretel to fit into). Suppose the wolf had found a way to knock down the third little pig's house after being unable to huff and puff it down. What does your child think would have happened then?

Cue, Please

Read (or tell) a familiar story to your child, one he's heard plenty of times before. Stop at several crucial parts in the story. Each time you stop, ask "What happened next? Do you remember?"

When he remembers, praise him. If he tells the story differently than it really goes, don't tell him he's wrong; just say, "Oh, I like the way you tell it. And what happened next?"

You can get the story back on track gently or you can give up on telling him the usual version and simply let him run away with it.

Object Story

In this story game, which requires creativity on your part, your child chooses an object—any object. It can be something you have in your home, something she's seen somewhere else, or something she's heard about. Then you have to make up a story about that object.

It doesn't have to be a long or complicated story but use your imagination and make the story more than a few sentences long.

Variation: For a change of pace, you pick the object and let your child make up the story.

His Very Own Hero

This activity can carry over from one naptime to another and another, but it requires a bit of prep the first time you do it. Even before naptime, ask your child to dream up a character and say you will tell him a story about the character. Ask him to tell you about the character in advance. If you want to get the child more involved, ask him to draw a picture of the character. You need to know the character's name and as much about him or her as possible. Is he or she a kid, a bunny, a police officer or firefighter, a dinosaur or dragon, a princess or prince, a soldier?

Now, when you tell him it's naptime and he should get into bed, add, "And, don't forget, I'm going to tell you a story about [name of character the child has invented]."

Get the child settled on his bed, perhaps under a blanket or special nap quilt, and begin to spin your yarn. It can be long or brief. It doesn't have to be Newbery-prize worthy material. It just has to "star" the character he dreamed up.

And from now on, whenever you want to give him a little extra reward or bribe him into napping more willingly, you can tell him a story about his favorite character.

Serial Story ... and Not Rice Krispies!

This is a serial story, not a cereal story, so you won't be bringing milk and sugar to bed with your child at naptime—but you will be bringing your imagination. You'll probably also want to do some advance planning though it is possible to "wing it."

For this activity, you want to write a story in advance. Not word for word, written down, but at least general thoughts of who the characters are and what's going to happen to them. You want the story to have at least four "cliffhangers."

On Day One of the story—let's say Monday—you put your child in for her nap and tell her the story. Stop the story in the middle, at a cliffhanger point. It doesn't have to be a throat-gripping, heart-stopping cliffhanger; in fact, it's better if it isn't. It can be as mild a cliffhanger as, "When Jeffrey got up onto the carousel, he could hardly believe who he saw sitting on the big, gold horse!"

Who did Jeffrey see? Your child won't find out till tomorrow, though you can remind her a couple of times on Tuesday morning that you're going to continue the story when she goes in for her nap. And true to your word, you will. Although she'll find out on Tuesday who Jeffrey saw when he got onto the carousel, you're going to end Tuesday's story at another cliffhanger point. Perhaps it will be when Jeffrey, having discovered his grandma from Maine on the carousel, suddenly sees one of the horses wink at him. He asks his grandma if she saw it too, but she hadn't seen it. Just then, the horse's tail twitches. Is the carousel magical? Or is there some other explanation?

Your child will have to wait till naptime tomorrow to learn what happened next and why the horse on the carousel seems to be alive. And of course, even though you reveal that mystery then, you're going to end the day's installment with another cliffhanger. So if she wants to find out the answer to what happened then, she'd better hurry up and get ready when you announce the next day that it's naptime!

You don't want to drag these stories out indefinitely. After four or five days or a whole week at most, tell your child, "I'm going to finish the story today. Hurry up and get ready for your nap!" You might want to start another story soon after you end the first one.

Fill in the Blanks

Tell your child that you are going to tell him a story about himself and he is going to help you by filling in the blanks. The first time or two you'll have to prompt him quite a bit. But after that, he'll get the hang of it and fill in the blanks as soon as your voice "hangs" and you pause and look at him expectantly.

You might start with, "Once upon a time there was a boy named____." Look at your child expectantly with one eyebrow raised, and if he doesn't get what's expected, coach him, "It's your turn. It's a story about you. Fill in what's missing: What's your name?"

Then you can go on, perhaps saying, "He had two older brothers. Their names were____." And again, if he doesn't pick up on what he's supposed to do, prompt him: "What are your brothers' names?"

The story might continue, "His favorite toys were____. His favorite food was____. His favorite stuffed animal was named____. The thing he most loved to do was____." And continue on like that.

This "story" doesn't have to have a plot, adventure, conflict, and resolution, or any of the things that make for a good yarn in published fiction. It's enough that you're telling a story about him and that you're giving him a chance to chime in with the "right answers." He'll love it!

"Tell Me a Me Story"

Though not every parent has enough fiction-writing ability to make up stories that are totally original, there are plenty of parents who do just that. Instead of making up stories about elephants or puppies or firefighters or just any old kid, however, why not make up a story about your child? He'd love to "star" in a story!

The more conventional way to do this is: If your child's name is Bryan tell him a story about a boy named Bryan and describe your story's Bryan in such a way that it's obvious you're talking about your child. This is a fine way but I have a different approach.

Start your story this way: "One day you were walking down the street when suddenly you saw a box...."

If you remember your grammar lessons, the conventional way of doing it is "third person"—"he," "she," or "they;" The way I'm suggesting is "second person"—"you." Tell your story in the second person and draw your child right into it.

This isn't recommended for the youngest of nappers who might be confused by the second-person format and think the stories are actual events they just don't remember. But try it on your older nappers.

Illustrated Stories – 1

In most storytelling, the words precede the pictures, but in this activity, the pictures come first. Cut a picture out of a magazine. The picture should show either a person or an animal as well as something more. Either the person or animal should be doing something (even something as simple as a person looking at his watch would be all right) or should be shown in some surroundings, preferably something more than just a typical living room.

Now show the picture to your child and ask her to make up a story about the picture. You can prompt her: What is the person's name? Or, if the animal is a domestic animal or horse, what is the animal's name? What is the person or animal doing? What does your child suppose the person might be about to do? What does she suppose the person might have just done? If the person is outdoors or in a car or on a bike (or any other form of transportation), where might she be going?

When she answers, you can then ask follow-up questions, prompting her to supply further details.

(When she gets up from his nap, you can suggest she draw more pictures of the people in the story, if she wants.)

Illustrated Stories – 2

For this version of Illustrated Stories, you need to have cut out a variety of pictures from magazines (or advertisements). It's better if you first paste them on cardboard, parts of old file folders, or some other relatively sturdy backing though it's not absolutely essential. Each of these pictures should be easily recognizable to your child. (Examples include a ball, a house, a helicopter, a woman, a child, a police officer, a dog, a lake, a truck, a fire, a group of kids playing, and an apple.)

Now put the pictures upside-down and have your child choose five without knowing what they are. (If he can't yet count to five, you can do the counting for him.) Show him the five pictures and make sure he knows what they all are. Now ask him to make up a story that includes each of the five items in it.

If he's very young, don't be disappointed if he offers you a one-sentence story. ("A boy was playing with a ball when a dog came along with a woman and ran into a house.") As he gets older and as you play this game more often, he'll start offering you more complex stories.

You can ask him questions, too: "What did the dog look like? Did the boy pet the dog? Was the dog friendly? What was the boy's name? Did the dog live in the house he ran into? Was it the boy's house?" In this way you can encourage him to supply more details in his stories.

Photo Album Stories

Bring one of your family photo albums into your child's bedroom and flip through the pages slowly, asking your child to pick a picture that she'd like to know more about. This can be a photo album of your child or children, one that contains pictures of you or your spouse as a child, or one that contains photos of members of your extended family.

When your child sees one that intrigues her, tell her as much as you can about the photo or at least as much as you think will interest her. If the photo is of her as a baby, you can tell her approximately how old she was at the time, where the picture was taken, what was going on at the time ("Cousin Ed was visiting with his family—that's his daughter Marie, your second cousin, in the background"), and other details. If the picture is of some other family member, perhaps one she doesn't recognize, tell her who the photo is of. Even if you yourself don't know the circumstances surrounding the picture, you can tell her, "That's Nana Iris when she was a teenager. She grew up in Buffalo, a city in New York State, so that might be where the picture was taken. I don't know who that is with her but it's probably one of her friends." You can prompt your child to participate with questions: "What do you suppose Nana Iris and her friends liked to do together?"

If she answers, "Play on the computer," or "Watch videos," you can explain that when Nana Iris was a teenager there were no home computers or videos.

If the picture of Nana Iris as a child includes her sister Angie, you can point out to your child that "The other girl with her is Aunt Angie. Did you realize Aunt Angie is Nana Iris's sister? They're sisters just like you and Melody are."

Three Generations

"My, how times have changed!" How often have you heard (or even said) that phrase? Though as a child you may have been tired of hearing stories of the "When I was your age I had to walk five miles to school" variety, I'll bet you were still held enrapt when your mom or dad described the differences between their lives and yours.

In Night-Night I suggest telling your child "Mommy stories"—stories of what life was like for you as a child, how you celebrated holidays, spent summers, and so on. My suggestion now? That you contrast your child's life, your life, and your mom's or dad's life. Surely you're enough aware of the circumstances of your mother's childhood that you could tell your child something like, "You play games on the computer and you spend part of the day watching TV but when I was a kid, we didn't have a computer, and when Grandma was a kid, she didn't even have a TV until she was eight years old." "Your older brother rides an electric scooter. When I was a kid I rode a Big Wheel—a kind of big, plastic tricycle. And when Grandma was a girl, she had a scooter like your brother's—except that it wasn't electric." "When I don't have time to cook dinner, I can pop a frozen dinner in the microwave. When I was a kid, my mom didn't have a microwave. She had to cook frozen dinners in the oven. And when Grandma was a kid, there were very few frozen dinners available ... and most of them tasted yucky-gross-bleccccchhh."

If he wants, he can ask questions about other aspects of life and how they differed from Grandma's childhood to your childhood to his.

Excerpted from The Naptime Book by Cynthia MacGregor. Copyright © 2003 Cynthia MacGregor. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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