Parents have long sought viable solutions to the everyday problems faced in raising their children. Dealing with even the smallest issues can be frustrating, and advice from others who have found ways to handle the same concerns is usually welcomed. Karen J. Cheever has devised a successful bedtime system for settling her children down for the night, and she shares it in her helpful new book, The Tuck-In. There are many reasons children hate going to bed at night, and Cheever attacks this problem in her household with a nightly ritual she developed to reduce bedtime anxieties and make going to bed a positive experience. For parents seeking a solution to the bedtime dilemma in their own homes, Cheever’s method is certainly worth a try.
The first part of The Tuck-In is a read-aloud story about a mom and a young girl named Savannah, as they go through the various steps of what Cheever calls the tuck-in “event.” The illustrated story serves to familiarize children with the evening ritual. As the mother introduces Savannah to the tuck-in, the girl questions each step, and her mom calmly answers, explaining what she is doing and why. The low-key, quiet responses and explanations are meant to dispel Savannah’s concerns, but they also provide reassurance to children whose own parents plan to institute Cheever’s system. Both the story and the illustrations are sweet and realistic, and youngsters may actually clamor, “Do that to me! Do that to me!” as they see what happens to Savannah.
Cheever concludes The Tuck-In with a how-to guide for parents, outlining each step that she herself takes. She suggests that parents experiment and adjust some of the individual rituals to suit their own needs. Her program stresses affirmation and security, offering important bonding time between parent and child.
The read-aloud story is written primarily as a dialogue between the mother and Savannah. Although lacking commas in a number of places, it flows well and serves as a comforting introduction to the new bedtime event. The guide for parents, while easy to understand, is less well written. While admitting the need for a gender-neutral singular pronoun, grammarians are still riled when “they” and “their” are used instead. Cheever’s advice to “Have the child lift their head” and “brush their cheek” makes this portion of the book difficult to read for those who care about such things.
Any positive experience repeated throughout a child’s young life promises to become a fond memory in adulthood, and family rituals remembered from childhood often are special enough to be carried forward to subsequent generations. Those who read Cheever’s The Tuck-In may find the key to ending bedtime trauma and, in the process, may discover a special connection between parent and child that ultimately results in a new family tradition.