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Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Top 100 Picture Books #96: Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber

#96 Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber (1972)
20 points

While I can remember many favorite chapter books from my childhood, there are only a handful of picture books that I distinctly remember reading and enjoying (my mother saved many of my picture books, so I know I had quite a library of picture books). Ira Sleeps Over is one of them. I regularly include it when I read aloud to older groups of children (K-2 grade). Although some of the activities mentioned in the book are slightly old-fashioned, the uneasiness many children feel when they are away from home is decidedly not! The unexpected twist at the end is most satisfying. – Jennifer Schultz

Reggie’s ghost story is among the funniest things in children’s literature, but it is not the humor but the emotional pathos of this book that gets me; the heartbreaking decision Ira has to make between trying to act “grown-up” when all he wants is his teddy bear, capped by the exchange between Ira and Reggie when Ira discovers that Reggie has a teddy bear too is enough to bring me to tears. – Mark Flowers

I couldn’t put this series down and remember waiting impatiently for all the sequels. – Martha Sherod

I was probably the last kid in my class to stop playing with dolls, so I could  relate to Ira, whose sister has him convinced he’s a baby if he brings his teddy bear to a sleepover. – Katie Ahearn

I’m going to go out on a limb here and proclaim that of all the picture books you find in the Top 100’s nineties, none have the love that Ira Sleeps Over has garnered here.  Just look at those testimonials!  It’s also one of those books that linger in the mind.  I mentioned it to my husband and while he didn’t remember it right away, one glance at the cover and it all came flooding back.

For a very brief synopsis I picked up this one from the publisher. “Ira is thrilled to spend the night at Reggie’s, until his sister raises the question of whether he should take his teddy bear.What would Reggie think? Of course Ira’s big enough to sleep without his beloved bear . . . isn’t he?”

Now I’m usually able to get all sorts of links and quotes and reviews and what have you for the books on this poll.  Ira, however, presents something of a challenge.  There is very little about this book out there.  Anita Silvey has never highlighted it.  Leonard Marcus is mum.  It doesn’t show up in any of the books at hand, yet there’s something about this story that has allowed it to last all these years.  Fascinating!

  • Here’s a nice inside look at what went into the animated version of Ira.

There was more than one cinematic version, of course.  This one?  A little piece of the past. Practically makes me nostalgic.

The hair!  The clothes!  That’s good.  But this next clip, with its fantastically horrific premise is even better.

Sort of want to find all the episodes now.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. OOOOh, this could have made my list. I loved reading it to my kids. I think I read it more for myself than them. It’s just such a dramatic performance piece. I felt like I channeled each character. Oddly enough the girl in the above video sounds just like the girl in my throat. Waber captures the cadence of dialogue to perfection.

  2. Yay! And I never knew there were sequels until a few years ago.

  3. Genevieve says

    Haven’t read this since I was a kid, but the cover instantly reminds me that I want to read it again. Very glad it made the list — and I don’t think I knew there were sequels either.

  4. I wasn’t sure other people would share my love for this one – I’m so glad to see it make the list! And I totally agree with Danae – it’s so much fun to read out loud. I love reading the sister’s snarky voice. Are there sequels beyond Ira Says Goodbye? That’s the only other one I know.