Inside: Looking for fantastic children’s bedtime story books? We’ve got you covered right here with the very best goodnight stories for kids, from funny bedtime stories to happy ones, from books to help kids overcome fears of the dark to dealing with the things that go bump in the night. Come on in!
Conquer the Bedtime Blues with These Essential Bedtime Story Books!
Can you name one adult that doesn’t love it?! I certainly cannot.
In our exceedingly frenetic and fast paced world, bedtime is so often the only time of the day when I can finally be quiet. It’s when I can be mindful and present with my breath, when I can think about and reflect upon my day, and when I can surrender to the comfort of my bed and the hush of darkness. I love when the only sound I hear is the ceiling fan whirring above my head!
If only children felt the same way about going to sleep every night!
Unfortunately, though, if your house is anything like mine, the sheer call of “bedtime!” inspires nothing but madness.
The word alone can conjure so much anxiety for kids. For my boys, it’s loneliness. The idea of being alone, confined to a bed in a dark room, is such an uncomfortable feeling for them, not even all the stuffies, lovies and comfort objects in the world can soothe it.
It’s the reason my boys keep asking for water, for one more hug, for one more trip to the bathroom. They simply don’t want to be by themselves. Simply put, they’re scared.
Bedtime is synonymous with fear in so many children, but bedtime books can help alleviate that fear.
Fear of the dark. Fear of something in the closet. Fear of something under the bed.
How many times has your child asked you to turn the light back on? Called you out of your room because they heard a frightening noise in theirs? Asked you to look in their closet, or in their drawers, or in their toy box just one more time to make sure the coast is clear?
The fear can be crippling, and it will undoubtedly have your kids dashing from their rooms like marathon runners and catapulting into your bed like pole vaulters.
Children’s bedtime story books can also take kids on fantastical journeys with little more than their imaginations.
For a select few, though, bedtime undoubtedly inspires a quiet journey to the depths of the imagination.
The call for bedtime means jumping into a safe haven of blankets and pillows and the soft, comforting cadence of a loved one’s voice reading a wondrous story.
There’s nothing better than snuggling under the covers, close to a caregiver, as he or she opens the pages of a crisp bedtime story book and begins to read a story that fills a child with laughter or awe. This is what we want for all of our kids, and this is what we as parents should strive for at bedtime.
But how do we make this happen?
It’s easier said than done – trust me, I know. But bedtime story books can certainly help.
The best bedtime story books tackle common childhood anxieties and help kids feel brave before bed.
Children’s bedtime story books can help address some of these common childhood anxieties and give kids the courage they need to get to sleep calmly.
In addition to the significant developmental benefits that reading at bedtime provides to children, sharing bedtime story books with your littles before they go to sleep can help soothe their nerves and reinforce bonds between children and their loved ones, making them feel safer and more secure when going to bed. So what are you waiting for? Grab a hold of these books, snuggle up with your kids, and get reading.
The following stories are ones we love in our home, books that ease my boys’ nerves through thrills, wonder, and good old fashioned laughter. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
Sleep Like a Tiger, by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski: A quietly magical bedtime book about a girl whose parents insist she get ready for bed even though she declares she is wide awake. Once under her covers, the child asks her parents how particular animals sleep at night. Through gentle prose, her parents describe the animals’ sleeping habits, which the little girl then mimics once she is alone in her bedroom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the child falls sound asleep. This story speaks perfectly to little ones who want nothing more than to stay awake when it’s time for bed. For our full review of Sleep Like a Tiger, click here!
Orion and the Dark, by Emma Yarlett: Darkness personified- it’s a brilliant concept. Yarlett takes darkness, something many kids are terrified of, and gives him a cuddly frame, a timid but warm smile, and a gentle hand to hold. She shows our little ones that the dark can wrap you up and squeeze you in the most perfect hug, and that the unknown and scary expanse of the night isn’t so frightening after all once you explore it with a friend. To simply say this book is “special” doesn’t do it justice; it leads the pack when it comes to stories for kids afraid of the dark. For our full review of Orion and the Dark, click here!
Let Me Sleep, Sheep!, by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge: Have you ever told your kids to count sheep if they have come to you and said they can’t fall asleep, only to be met with blank stares? Well teach them this concept, then read this book to them, and I can practically guarantee you will have them laughing out loud as they lay their heads on their pillows. In this book, Amos closes his eyes and begins to count some fluffy sheep who trot away in the grass. But then — thud! —is that a sheep in Amos’s bedroom? Oh, but it is! And then another arrives, and another, each peppering Amos with questions and demands until one tuckered out little boy falls, you guessed it, sound asleep. Just darling!
It Is Not Time for Sleeping, by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Lauren Castillo: The premise of the story is simple- a little boy is staunchly resisting his bedtime. Yet even though he becomes more stubborn in his convictions as he moves through each part of his habitual bedtime routine he eventually – finally!- succumbs to his fatigue. Children will feel an immediate connection to the child in the book as well as his familiar routine, both of which create a sense of comfort for little ones as they snuggle under their covers. For our full review of It is Not Time for Sleeping, click here!
Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, by Cedric Ramadier and Vincent Bourgeau: It is a rare child that likes to be told to brush his teeth, go to the bathroom one last time, and get into bed. But this interactive bedtime book allows the kids to be the “boss.” It enables the reader to make sure the book has completed its bedtime routine, that it is warm enough, and that it gets a good hug and kiss before turning out the light. What I love most about this simple and quick read is that it gives little ones power in a situation where they often feel totally powerless. For our full review of Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, click here!
A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace Lin: In this whimsical book, a 2019 Caldecott Honor, Little Star cannot resist the great Mooncake her mama bakes her – but she simply cannot resist a nibble! This wonderful book, a modern day myth, tells an enchanting — and totally delightful — story about the different phases of the moon.
Please Bring Balloons, by Lindsey Ward: A note, a carousel and a polar bear. Is it a dream? A fantastical adventure? We are still wondering—and that’s so much a part of why we love it. Both artistically beautifully and perfectly fanciful, we adore this captivating story! For our full review of Please Bring Balloons, click here!
Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey, by Emily Winfield Martin: A lyrical tale with one of those perfectly rhythmic cadences that will gently lull little ones to sleep. This book invites kids to close their eyes so they can discover their own dream animals — and find out what adventures their animals will take them on as they soar through the stars.
Don’t Blink!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and David Roberts: Oh, how I love this ingenious bedtime book, and I have no doubt your kids will too! Can your little ones rise to the challenge and refrain from blinking as they turn these pages? I guarantee they will do everything in their power to pass the test however they can, because if they can get to the end of the book without blinking, they win a very coveted prize— they can avoid bedtime! This one is a must.
I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam: This book is guaranteed to get your kids laughing about ogres and beasts, rather than fearing them. When Ethan looks under his bed to check on his monster, Gabe, Ethan finds a note from Gabe instead. What does it say? Gabe has gone fishing and will be back in a week! How on earth will Ethan get to bed without his monster’s heavy breathing lulling him to sleep? This book is a hoot and will help your kids turn the tables on their monster woes.
The Goodnight Train, by June Sobel and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith: All aboard for dreamland! If your kids love trains or cookies, or trains and cookies, then they want to make sure to climb aboard the Goodnight Train, one that soars past mermaids and ice cream clouds and has heaps and heaps of cookies on board. This was on reread in our house for a good year, as my children loved being rocked and rolled to bed.
The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight: A young girl has no interest in sleeping in her own bed in her own room (*ahem* nope, can’t relate to that one at all!) So what does she do? She comes up with the perfect solution to her problem: she sleeps in her parents’ bed and gifts her dad a camping cot, attempting to convince him why he should no longer be sleeping in his own big bed where he belongs. From the girl’s well thought out arguments to the hilarious illustrations, The Big Bed will have your kids laughing from start to finish. For our full review of The Big Bed, click here!
Night Out, by Daniel Miyares: This book is exquisite! The words are sparse, but the illustrations are rich with detail and emotion, telling stories upon stories in and of themselves. A young boy at a boarding school finds himself friendless and alone, but when he gets ready for bed one night, he finds a mysterious invitation. The boy then departs on a magical, mystical journey where he befriends dancing animals and attends a glorious celebration. He returns to his room with the perfect story to tell to a new friend.
The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes: If you love Goodnight Moon (or, perhaps, if you are in the camp of people who do not like it at all!) then you must check out this elegant book immediately. Gentle and lyrical prose inspired by cumulative poetry combines with exquisite scratchboard illustrations to make this story an absolute winner. This book is bedtime perfection, a quiet good night book sure to lull your child to sleep with its dreamlike narrative and pictures.
Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney: This is one we recite by heart in our house, a classic story about a little llama who gets himself in a tizzy at bedtime. When baby Llama settles into bed, he begins to worry as soon as his beloved Mama leaves his room. How will he handle the dark on his own? Before long, Llama’s whimpers and worry turn into hollers, and soon it escalates into an all out Llama Drama!
Stop That Yawn!, by Caron Levis and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: Gaby is over bedtime. Yawns and snores are such big bores! So she decides to take some action and leave bedtime behind, setting out with her bewildered granny to find a place where beds are for bouncing, ice cream is available round the clock, and there is no more hushing and shushing. But despite her best efforts, even poor Gaby realizes that sometimes, it is just a bit to difficult to stop that yawn!
The Night Box, by Louise Greig and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay: When a child opens the Night Box, day slips into evening as darkness unfurls and stars light up the sky. He is the holder of the key that opens this wondrous box, the one that breathes out night and breathes in the day. What a wonderfully imaginative and unexpected story about one child who holds the key (literally) to our world’s most natural cycle. For our full review of The Night Box, click here!