40 Must Read Bedtime Books

bedtime book list for kids

Establishing a routine for reading every day is important and one of the easiest ways to do that is to read with your kids every night. No ifs, ands, or buts just grab a book or 10 every single night.  I have shared a lot of books over the years and some of the reviews below are from me but I wanted to widen the horizon a bit with this post and include favorite bedtime books from other education minded blogs. So below is a list of must read bedtime books to freshen up your go to pile on the nightstand. All our book lists include affiliate links including this one.

hug book

Hug by Jez Alborough
This simple book is great for my boys to read to their baby sister before she goes to bed. It has been a favorite in our house for every child. Review by Lemon Lime Adventures

greek myths

Usborne’s Greek Myths for Young Children by Heather Amery
One of our favorite myth books, the binding is already breaking apart. My boys are 3 and 4. Although often criticized for being a bit too violent, these mythical tales draw them in each night. There is something about these stories that captivate and hook my boys to want more and to ask insightful questions. Hands down, this book is one of our favorite myth anthologies. The stories ignite a sense of awe and wonder about the world and provoke a desire to learn that I never imagined was possible. The tales are colorful and written well. This book is great from preschool on up with older children able to read them on their own. Review by Carrots Are Orange

looking for sleepy

Looking for Sleepy by Maribeth Boelts is a perfect bedtime book. I really think it’s brilliant. I was gifted it and it probably wouldn’t have jumped off the book shelf to me if I had been browsing at the book store but I am so glad it ended up in our hands. The book is about a little bear and his papa bear getting ready for bed. They go through their bedtime routine, starting by looking for sleepy hiding under toys, in the bath , in his pajamas, in the bedtime stories etc… I love the dad in this book. I love how he’s patient and kind and the illustration on the page where they are reading in bed and his toddler’s hand is awkwardly on his head cracks me up. My favorite part though is that when the toddler asks Papa to stay a little longer while he falls asleep Papa does. I enjoy books that are reassuring and provide a sense of security for young children at bedtime and this does that with ease. Awesome book!

pajama times

Pajama Time! (Boynton on Board)by Sandra Boynton
We love books by Sandra Boyton. One of our all-time favorites is Pajama Time! I love the sing-song way she tells this cute story about how the fun characters get ready to go to bed with a pajama dance song. Everyone can pajammy in whatever they’ve got – fuzzy, striped, red. Perfect for toddlers but still loved by my 6 year old too! Review by Fun Handprint & Footprint Art

Margaret_Wise_Brown_Big_Red_Barn

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her.  The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s  calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons.  A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.

goodnight moon

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a classic for a reason. My son has loved it since day one and it really does a great job of calming before bed, like all great bedtime stories should. As a teacher I hated this book probably because it’s not a great book for groups I admit I was wrong, this is a gem ! The rhythm and rhymes are perfect to go from a busy day to a calm night. My son chooses this book to read to us often since he knows it by heart and when he’s having trouble sleeping I can lay with him and simply recite it to bring him back down. I say that is pretty great proof of the power of this classic.

 

sometimes i like to curl up in a ball

Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In A Ball by Vicki Churchill reminds us all what it is like to be little–and to want to run, stomp, twirl, and jump to our heart’s content–but at the day’s end it’s great to cozy up with our loved ones. Review by teachmama.com

llama llama

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Little Llama turns bedtime into big drama! Just one more drink? The rhyming text and familiar theme is sure to make this a favorite bedtime story for all young children. Review by Pre-K Pages

time+for+bed

Time for Bed by Mem Fox is a sweet, rhyming book that shows animals putting their babies to sleep. The kids like naming the animals and I like that it ends with a sweet picture of a mama putting her own child to bed. Review by LalyMom

corduroy

Corduroy by Don Freeman
Corduroy is a bear who longs for someone to take him home and one day it almost happened, but who would want to buy a bear with a lost button? That evening, Corduroy goes on a search for his button…. My 3 year old daughter loves to create the sounds of him yanking and pulling what he thought was his lost button. In the end, Corduroy finds a home “better than the palace in at the department store.” Review by School Time Snippets

kittens first full moon

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
What a night! The Moon is full and kitten is feeling brave and hungry! He goes on a full moon adventure trying to reach that big bowl of milk he sees…in the sky! This is a wonderful night time book for children of all ages. Review by Sugar Ants

bed times

Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill is an absolutely fantastic story about a little girl who needs to count sheep to get to sleep but there is one big problem the sheep are too tired to jump. They promise her to find  replacements but animal after animal is just not working out. I laughed out loud at many pages of this book  ( especially the chickens) and my daughter loved it even if she didn’t get all the layers of humor. Very sweet book .

bedtimes

Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban is a classic. Frances and her very loving mom and dad are struggling with bedtime. She goes to bed but then keeps getting out of bed with reason after reason as to why she can’t sleep. The start of this story is really sweet and her parents were kind and gentle with her trying to alleviate her fears without fixing  everything for her. As the evening wears on and her parents go to bed themselves their patience is tested. Now I am not a fan of spanking and I have never spanked my kids so I had t explain to them what a spanking was and why Frances didn’t want one. I don’t think that you should avoid this book if you are ideologically against spanking I think it’s a great opportunity to talk about different discipline techniques and a chance to talk about frustration and sleep when you aren’t frustrated because your kids can’t sleep.

if you were my baby

If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby (A Simply Nature Book) (Simply Nature Books)by Fran Hodgkins
This is a fun book for little animal lovers. It captures gentle and playful moments between baby animals and their mothers. The Pleasantest Thing

the dream jar

The Dream Jar by Lindan Lee Johnson
When my daughter was having trouble with bad dreams this book was a big help. In The Dream Jar the main character has a very vivid imagination. Her older sister helps her use that imagination to shift her dreams. I love the sibling cooperation. The artwork is also fantastic and we had a great time making our own dream jars. Review by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

mama papa board book

Mama Mama/Papa Papa Flip Board Bookby Jean Marzollo
This book is two books in one. Read it one way for all of the ways mamas show love and care, then flip it over and read it the other way for all of the ways papas show love and care. The illustrations are beautiful – this is the perfect book to give new parents. Reviewed by Creative With Kids

favorites

You’re All My Favorites by Sam McBrattney is a favorite bedtime book of ours because the three little bears ask their parents questions our three little kids have asked us time and time again: ‘Who is your favorite?’ Mama Bear answers the same way I do! Review by teachmama.com

I love you stinky face

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt.
This tender story puts a fun twist on the traditional “I Love You” bedtime story. My kids giggle all the way through! (And I love that the book isn’t overtly “boy” or “girl”, just plain great!) review by Not Just Cute

where is the poop

Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes
I’m afraid to admit this but my daughter’s favorite books are about poop! We love potty humor in our house! This book is a bedtime favorite here. She especially likes to open and shut the door on the last page where the little girl is on the potty to give her privacy! review by Still Playing School

goodnight touch and feel

Good Night {A Touch & Feel Bedtime Book} by Melanie Mitchell
Good Night is a delightful bedtime story for little ones. Children are taken through the days and evenings of various fuzzy animals, culminating with a young child heading to bed in her soft blanket. A wonderful, snuggly rhyming book for young ones. Review by Wildflower Ramblings

mortimer

Mortimer (Classic Munsch)  by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book, it’s not the calmest and is pretty funny so you may want to read this one before some more chill books, but it’s so cute I couldn’t leave it off my list. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, but whether reading it to a group of preschoolers or to my son I have never had a child not sing along with Mortimer who is driving everyone bonkers by not going to sleep! Instead he is singing and making noise and not even the police can stop him!

otto goes to bed

Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed, he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth don’t help. Instead he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids, I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed . The illustration of Otto as a super hero dog makes my son howl with laughter every time.

goodnight gorilla

Good Night, Gorillaby Peggy Rathmann
I admit that I didn’t love this book at first. I was an English major; I like words! This book is mostly pictures. But when my 20-month-old started narrating the pictures for me, I knew it was a keeper! It’s always good to find books that truly engage young toddlers. Review by Nothing if Not Intentional

Goodnight-Goodnight-Construction-Site

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Dusky Rinker
Who would have guessed that bedtime rhymes and cement Mixers, bulldozers, and excavators would mix so well? Each of the vehicles settles in to rest at the construction site after a busy day, making it the perfect bedtime book for your construction vehicle lover! Modern Parents Messy Kids

steam train dream train

Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Dusky Rinker
Steam Train, Dream Train is another wonderful bedtime book from the author and illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. The text rolls along with a rocking, lulling rhythm as the gorgeous illustrations follow an animal railroad crew from work to bedtime through a dreamy, vivid night. — Play Trains!

Bedtime-for-Mommy

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Bed Time For Mommy is a great book about a girl that is putting her mommy to bed and the fun routine they go through at bed time. It is fun and cheerful and was fun to see what things my girls do a bed time. Review by 3 Dinosaurs

who will tuck me in tonight

Who Will Tuck Me In Tonight?by Carol Roth

In Who Will Tuck Me in Tonight? Woolly the lamb is ready for bed but his mother isn’t there to tuck him in. Many other animals on the farm come to try and help Woolly get to sleep, but nobody can do it just right. This book brings a lot of giggles at bedtime, especially when we help sing the “lullaby” in our loudest duck voices. And it’s a story that has been requested over and over and over again by both of my kids. Fantastic Fun and Learning

All the world

All the World by Liz Graton Scanlon
A simple rhyming story that follows a few families and how their lives intertwine on a run of the mill summer day. All the world is a favorite because it speaks to all the commonalities in humankind: love, peace, hope, etc. My kids loved this from 18 months on. Your Kid’s Table

russell the sheep
Russell the Sheepby Rob Scotten
One of our favorite bedtime stories is Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton. Russell is having a hard time getting to sleep while the rest of the flock is snoozing. He tries all sorts of things to fall asleep and eventually finds a clever way to fall asleep just before the sun rises. This one is requested time and time again in our house. Recommended by Growing Book by Book

Dinosaur Vs Bedtime

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea is such a great book for toddlers. Dinosaur is a tornado full of energy much like a 2 year old and attacks each event in his day with serious gusto. When it’s time for bed he roars through bath and toothbrushing and then just roars like mad when it’s time for bed. Much like my little dinosaurs he eventually gets sleepy and unlike the rest of the day bedtime wins and he falls asleep. My kids love all the Dinosaur Vs. books and I do too. They are fun , simple and if you can manage a really loud gruff voice it’s that much more fun to read.

good night animal world

Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story by Giselle Shardlow is a favorite at our house. It is the perfect way to help my active child wind down for bed, as he moves through the gentle, engaging poses of this beautifully written book. – Leanna @ All Done Monkey

Good Night Dinosaurs

Good Night, Dinosaurs by Judy Sierra is a tongue twister and I love it! I have a hard time pronouncing dinosaur names, but the cute little rhymes she writes to go with each really help. The book is simple, parent dinosaurs tucking in and getting their little dinosaurs ready to fall asleep. Your child will love the catchy “Good Night Dinosaurs, Sleep Tight Dinosaurs, Good Night Dinosaurs, Goodnight!” I know I did.

 

10 wriggly

Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars by Debbie Tarbett
Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars is a fantastic counting book for preschoolers. It’s one of our favourite books appearing at first to have a sad ending as we count down the number of caterpillars as they disappear from view (enhanced by the model caterpillars used) but ending with a bright and beautiful pop up feature. With rhymes and counting it’s a great combination for preschoolers and you to read together at bedtime. Review by Rainy Day Mum

time to sleep my love

It’s Time to Sleep, My Love is my favorite book by Nancy Tillman. It has a nice lulling rhyme to it and a sweet pictures to go with it. I actually sing the words to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! LalyMom

harry and horsie

Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp
A wonderful and simple short bedtime story about a little boy and his best friend, a stuffed horse. Read about a great adventure they have together and the love he has for his horsie before finally settling in for bedtime! review by Little Bins For Little Hands

voyage to bunny planet
Voyage to the Bunny Planetby Rosemary Wells
Who hasn’t had One of Those Days before? You know the kind where everything goes wrong. In the three sweet books in this little series the bunnies have a bad day that is made right by a voyage to The Bunny Planet. Reading them feels soothing like a warm bath and a cup of cocoa. Creative With Kids

ouch in my pouch

There’s an Ouch in my Pouch!by Jeanne Willis
This is a book we all love reading together because of the wonderful rhythmic language. Willaby Wallaby is grumpy because there is an ouch in his pouch so off he hops to try to find a new home. He approaches Mummy Wombat and Mummy Possum but their pouches are no good and then he bumps into scary Ma Dingo. Luckily, Willaby bounces back to his mum and finds out that the ouch is just his new little sister. Mum explains that there’s always room for them both in her pouch but Willaby realises that he’s a big boy and he doesn’t need a pouch after all (he likes being free to do bounces and hops!) so he doesn’t mind sharing it with his sister. It gives you the opportunity to talk about Willaby feeling pushed out, how his mum still loves him and how he can do more things now he is a ‘big boy’. Simple enough for toddlers to grasp. Review by Cat from Yellow Days

bear snores on

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
It’s about a bear who is hibernating in his cave during the winter. Lots of animals find their way into the cave and essentially have a party while Bear sleeps. But what happens when Bear wakes up? Review by Inspirational Laboratories

goodnight mr night

Good Night, Mr. Night by Dan Yaccarino This is another wonderful and calming bedtime book, Mr. Night quiets the animals , closes the flowers and gets the world ready to go night night! I love this book- I keep meaning to pick up the board book version! Like ” Goodnight Moon” there aren’t too many words, but the illustrations are perfect! My son likes to say “Come here Mr.Night” while getting into bed when we read this one.

how do dinosaurs say goodnight

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
by Jane Yolen
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night is a fun rhyming book that teaches good bedtime behavior. Both of my kids absolutely love the fun dinosaur illustrations and giggle through the entire book as the dinosaurs stomp, roar, and pout over bedtime. In addition to showing a variety of dinosaurs on every page, this book also includes a variety of families making it easy for children to relate this story to themselves and their families. The reinforcement of good bedtime behaviors makes this book or go to bedtime story. At the end of the story, it takes a big hug, and then one kiss more- then I’m hearing good night from my dinosaurs. If you are looking for a fun bedtime story that will help make your families bed time routine run smoother that I would strongly suggest checking out this book! Review by Parenting Chaos

Did we forget one of your favorite bedtime books ? Tell us all about it in a comment and we can keep this list growing!

Comments

  1. says

    I love this list! As a Discovery Toys educational consultant, I am happy to see “You’re All My Favorites” on the list! I also highly recommend another bedtime book from our DT collection, “Yawn.” This one is great for toddlers and preschoolers. My 3 yr old nephew loves reading it to me!

  2. nancy says

    We loved many of the books listed. Scholastic books has a dvd of the Jane Yolan book and it is great! Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman is a great bedtime book, and is also on dvd. Again the animation and music is terrific!! They were both favorites for my son!

  3. says

    I love this list, and I love that includes quiet books that might not automatically be considered “bedtime books.” A book that my just turned 2 year old twins both really love at bedtime right now is I Am a Bunny, written by Ole Risom and illustrated by Richard Scarry. It is an old school Little Golden Book, and just right for young toddlers at bedtime.

  4. Shannon says

    Love it! We have been looking for new bedtime books and several on this list really caught my attention. Two that I would like to suggest are The House In The Night by Susan Swanson and an older one, The Midnight Farm by Reeve Lindbergh. My son is 2 and these have been his favorites for the past year. THITN is a gentle rhyming book that takes the child on an imaginative journey through the night just before bedtime. TMF is a quiet counting book that tells what each group of farm animals is doing in the dark of night. It was one of my favorites as a child and I was thrilled to be able to pass it along to my son.

  5. says

    Thank you so much for including All Done Monkey’s recommendation of the Good Night, Animal World yoga book. Really appreciate it! And such an honor amongst amazing bedtime books. There are some new ones there to check out – can’t wait.

  6. Bryony Pemberton says

    A good list but our 2 favourites are;
    One Sleepy Night by Sebastien Braun (gorgeous illustrations and perfect sleepy story) and Your my Little Bunny by Claire Freedman and Gavin Scott (another beautifully illustrated book ending in sleepiness and cuddles!)

    Both these are definitely worth a look. I found them in the library and have since bought them not just for us but for friends too.

  7. Nan says

    When my kids were young they couldn’t get enough of The Giant Jam Sandwich, Thy Friend Obadiah, Are you my Mommy?, and The Ox Cart Man. Classics!

  8. says

    The Usborne Greek Myths book is wonderful! Just a tip, since you mentioned the spine was showing some wear and tear… Usborne consultants offer a half-price replacement guarantee. If a book is damaged through customer use, regardless of how long it has been owned, it can be replaced at half price. Also, Usborne discontinued sales through Amazon almost three years ago. (The Usborne books sold through Amazon are used.) You can purchase new Usborne books through an independent consultant such as http://www.UsborneBookBuddy.com

  9. Lindsay says

    You missed If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul! This was my girls favorite goodnight book for months on end. They would act out each animal’s good night kiss. It was the sweetest and cutest thing! At 6.5 we still kiss good night like animals : )

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