No matter what every night we read. Our days can be crazy but every night at 7:30 you will find my husband and I reading bedtime stories with our kids. Like many of you we have our favorite books to read and enjoy together. All of these 20 books are incredibly enjoyable to read which is why they are our favorites. Some of these books beg for you to use a funny voice, to sing the words, and to use over the top facial expressions. Some of these books will pull on your heartstrings and be sentimental favorites for years to come. None of these books have ever gotten lost at our house because they are always on someone’s nightstand waiting to be read again.
I welcome you to share your favorite read-aloud titles in comments to keep this list growing. All our book lists contain affiliate links.
How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton is a favorite in our house. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farmyard with a zippy rhyming text. My daughter loves taking this one in the stroller while I run and because it’s a board book I can give it to her without worrying that after a few miles it’s ripped and ruined.
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton always makes me laugh. There is something about the facial expressions of these animals that have always cracked me up, and lets be honest if the book is good for the adult reading it, it’s always a plus. This is such a fun read for everyone involved and is a great book for babies and toddlers and my son loved reading it to his little sister for a long time.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my all time favorite books to read with my kids. 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 any time, but especially poignant before bed.
Whoever You Are by Mem Fox. Every time I read this book I get goosebumps. The text reads like a beautiful poem and has a way of letting kids know that this message matters. The book is simple and talks about the differences of little children all over the world, but focuses on what they all have in common. Children of various cultures are shown , smiling, laughing, crying and the reader can see that even if the clothes , or houses or food are different the insides are the same. I always choke up reading this book because it’s so beautiful and a great reminder for all of us that while we so often focus on what we see as different most of what we have is in common.
Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz is a cute little counting book for toddlers. I gave it to my husband in 2007 for his first father’s day to read with my son and my son hated it. However in the years since it’s become a favorite and my daughter has always loved it. We read it together yesterday cuddled up in our big chair.
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester is such a cute and funny story, your kids will love it! Tacky is an odd bird and that is exactly what saves Tacky and his perfectly not odd companions when hunters come looking for perfect penguins. This is a sweet look at being different and being happy as pie about being different. My son loves this book and will often point out that Tacky is proud to sing just the way he wants. I love that it can preach to kids without preaching at all. Using a silly voice for Tacky isn’t required but it is highly recommended.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching an infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what”™s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series, including; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. Its text is musical, its premise is brilliant in its simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is “Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee.” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!
Dig Dig Digging by Margaret Mayo is one of the few books we have that we have bought twice. Our first copy was so well loved that we knew when it could not be read anymore that it would be immediately replaced. This book is embedded in my brain ( and heart) because both my children have gone through a phase where it’s their absolute favorite. The book takes readers through different vehicles like firetrucks, rescue helicopters, and of course bulldozers. The text is repetitive and will get stuck in your head for days but it’s OK because your kids will recite it along with you.
I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt is a wonderful mushy book that will still appeal to kids that aren’t really into mush. A little boy in his PJs asks his mom if she will still love him even if he was a series of terrible monsters. I love that the little boy in the book keeps trying to find ways to make him unlovable and the mom keeps finding ways to love unconditionally. There is a deeper meaning here and moms will see past the fun illustrations to the real heart of this book, which is no matter what we love our children. When I found this in a thrift store and read it quickly, I couldn’t look at my son in his stroller throwing puffs on the floor without tearing up and have been getting choked up reading it to both my children for many years since.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee has never been far from my daughter’s reach. The book is all about babies and all the ways they are different as well as all the ways they are the same. The text is an absolute pleasure to read out loud and has always had a calming effect on my daughter. She loves the illustrations and I appreciate the diversity of all the different families and babies. If I had to choose one book to label as my daughter’s all-time favorite, this would be it.
Mortimer by Robert Munsch is a fun bedtime book. I can’t remember the first time I read this book, but whether reading it to a group of preschoolers or to my kids 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.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch has enchanted me for years. I bought it while volunteering as a leader in training at a day camp when I was a teen. It’s followed me to many schools, children I babysat, and finally my own son. I can’t remember one child ever not liking it. It’s the story of Elizabeth a princess who outwits a dragon to rescue her prince. I love that the author has switched the typical damsel in distress and has the princess as the heroine. Some parents have expressed concern about Elizabeth calling the prince a “Bum” at the end of the book, personally I love it. I have always used it to explain why she was so angry, and as a reminder why calling names hurt. That said I think she is totally justified !
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker will have to be renewed from the library while I wait for my copy to come from Amazon. This book is starting to get pretty popular and rightfully so, it’s a lovely book. In it busy little construction vehicles wind down for the night and fall asleep. I never thought I would say an excavator was cute but the one in the book is. It’s a wonderful bedtime book and your child will enjoy winding down with the sleepy bulldozer and his friends. My daughter completely adores this book.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of those books that makes me cry just when I think of it. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s not sad. It’s about a little boy who is acting up and gets sent to his room. While in his room his imagination runs wild and he is transported to a world where there are no rules , no parents and no consequences for bad behavior. Ultimately though Max’s heart pulls him back home where he is loved most of all, even when he’s wild. I think this is an amazing love story about parents and children and unconditional love. Nothing beats reading this and having a little wild rumpus dance before bed with your own little wild things.
Dinosaur vs. the Potty by Bob Shea was responsible for me losing my voice last year. My kids love, no ADORE this book. My son ends up in stitches every time we read it and my daughter laughs at him eas muh as she laughs at me reading it. The thing about this book is you must read it with gusto for it to reach its full potential because its story isn’t deep it’s really just about a destructive dinosaur who doesn’t go pee when he should. Sound familiar? Kinda like little kids who dump toys, bang, and stomp, and deny that they have to use the potty until the very last minute. It struck a chord at our house and I have a hunch it may at yours too.
Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickland and is a board book that I’ve read often enough that I don’t need to look at the book to recite the text. The premise is simple, using two different dinosaurs every page illustrates a pair of opposites. Toddlers and young preschoolers adore this book and I can’t blame them, it’s adorable and a great tool for teaching about opposites.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst was a childhood favorite that I have enjoyed sharing with my own kids. This book is beautiful, even though it may take a few reads to see it’s not a story about a whining little boy so much a lesson that sometimes things do not go our way. Days can suck. It’s just the way it is. As a child I related to Alexander’s feelings of frustration and things being unfair. How often do you hear a child say “No Fair!” probably a lot. This book taps into that feeling, being little is hard but just because you are mad, or your day was bad doesn’t mean you get your way. Great book to talk about anger and frustration with your child, and it’s funny too.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems might not need much of a review as I don’t know many parents who haven’t laughed along with their kids reading this book. But if you have never read this book let me tell you about it and why so many of us think it’s hilarious. The book opens with a bus driver asking readers to do him a favor and not let the pigeon drive the bus. This sets the stage for a wonderfully interactive reading experience with a very poorly behaved pigeon who keeps asking readers to let him drive the bus. Love this book.
Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha is my favorite garbage truck book, and yes I have read a lot. Mr. Gilly is a hard-working garbage man with one task, to clean up Trashy town. The text is so melodic I find myself singing while reading “Dump it in, Smash it down, drive around the trashy town”. It”™s not all trash all the time for Mr. Gilly though, after a hard day’s work cleaning up Trashy town he gets into his bubble bath! My kids both absolutely adore this book.