Motherhood: Reigniting a love for bedtime stories one book at a time


By Jenny Peek | May 5, 2022

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  • Jenny Peek reads to her two-year-old son Liam.

Jenny Peek reads to her two-year-old son Liam in his nursery. Photo courtesy of Jenny Peek

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In a tribute to one of her favorite activities as a new mom, WPR’s Jenny Peek gives us an ode to the bedtime story. She tells us how becoming a mom reignited a love for children’s books she has been missing since she was little.

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“Tucked into bed with a world in your head
as we cuddle and turn down the light.
Where will you go when the stars start to glow?
Tell me what will you dream of tonight?

Drifting away at the end of the day
as the spellbinding sun disappears.
What will you choose?
You have nothing to lose …
Because anything’s possible here!”

What Will You Dream of Tonight” by Frances Stickley is one of my son Liam’s favorite bedtime stories.

Its pages unleash a world of fantasy. Treasure guarded by a fierce dragon, wintry treks under a rainbow of northern lights, a rocketship guided by stars for the taking.

Book page out of "What Will You Dream of Tonight"

A page from “What Will You Dream of Tonight” by Frances Stickley.

As I read it to him, he sits nestled on my lap, in the gray rocking chair that sits in the corner of his nursery. A dim overhead light and pink Himalayan salt lamp illuminate the pages. I can feel his soft breath and little heartbeat patter with the rhythm of the cadence of my words. 

He points out the moon, the little propeller plane soaring over a desert night sky, the cat creeping along the branch of a dark tree.

It’s my favorite place to be.

And I hope it’s one of his too.

I always wanted to be a mom. Caretaking comes naturally. And it fills me up in more ways than I can describe. 

But one of the greatest joys of my journey into parenthood has been my rediscovery of children’s books. 

I devoured them growing up. 

When I was four years old I wanted to be a children’s book author, an illustrator.

But as I got older, the books got longer and the pages lost their color.

When the sonogram showed a tiny beating heart, and testing later confirmed we were expecting a healthy little boy, I started to imagine all the things we would need to welcome him into our world.

Bassinet, stroller, car seat, diapers and books, lots of books. 

Titles I recognized and ones that were new to me filled our baby registry. I went through rubber bins filled to the brim with my old story books. I remembered laying in bed, my head on my mom’s shoulder as she read the familiar words over and over again. 

Jenny Peek, 3, and her mom, Julie Peek, at Pioneer Park in Baraboo, Wis. (Courtesy of Julie Peek)

Jenny Peek, 3, and her mom, Julie Peek, at Pioneer Park in Baraboo, Wis. (Courtesy of Julie Peek)

“Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.”

I think about my blanket Blue Blue tucked under one arm and Brownie the teddy bear tucked under the other. Safe and warm.

What a joy to be able to relive that feeling.

Now I get to pass that sense of place onto Liam. All while escaping into the world of adventure.

A world of bears missing buttons, trains that think they can, a sea of rainbow fish and hippos going berserk.

It makes me wonder why I ever stopped reading these beloved books in the first place. And reminds me to never stop again.

“Now cuddle up tight and we’ll whisper goodnight,
as we drift into darkening skies.
And I promise I’ll stay just a heartbeat away.
I’ll be here when you open your eyes.

So tucked into bed with a world in your head
and a ceiling of stars up above.
Wherever you go, I just want you to know.
You are safe. You are home. You are loved.”

Jenny Peek

Jenny Peek

Jenny Peek is a digital news editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and senior contributor for Isthmus. When she’s not out tracing her next lead, you’ll find her chasing her toddler Liam, or snuggled up with a good book and a piping hot cup of coffee.
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