Bedtime can be madness. There is potential for bedtime to be a sweet moment spent together each night. A well-chosen bedtime story for your toddler or preschooler can help them calm down and feel loved.
When the kids are already emotionally and physically ready for bed, any book will work. However, on harder nights when the kids need assistance calming down, it’s really helpful to have some go-to bedtime stories that create a peaceful atmosphere.
The Going to Bed Book
Getting Ready for Sleep is tons of fun in this iconic board book from author and illustrator Sandra Boynton. This classic bedtime story is just right for winding down the day as a joyful, silly group of animals scrub scrub scrub in the tub, brush, and brush and brush their teeth, and finally rock and rock and rock to sleep.
“The day is done.
They say good night,
turns off the light.”
You might want to pick up more books from the same author! Babies and kids love their rhymes and rhythms.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
With beautiful, dusky illustrations and a soothing rhythm, this book leaves everyone with their eyes half closed. The idea is simple but relatable.
Just like kids who have played rough and tumble all day, after working hard, the trucks at the construction site wind down for the night. There are a lot of bedtime books about animals and babies, but it’s fun to have one about trucks.
On the Night You Were Born
One of the most important messages we want every kid to feel is that they are loved. That is the central purpose of this bedtime tale. This book uses one-of-a-kind layered art and rhyming words to profess the uniqueness of each child and the wonder and magic of the night they were born.
This bedtime story is a love note to your little one. It’s about how, on the night you were born, the world showed its delight because there was only one like you.
Written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman.
Fish Kisses: A Bedtime Story
This bedtime book shows how different animals say goodnight. “Bunnies wriggle” and “lobsters pinch.” Kids keep up until the last page when finally we realize we are the readers and we get to choose how we will say goodnight.
This book is the perfect excuse to express that love in silly and snuggly ways. With words, pictures, and funny sounds when we read to them, we are making sure that our little ones go to bed feeling safe and loved by us.
Written and illustrated by Marianne Richmond.
Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
This book feels like a combination of reality and fantasy. It’s a different approach to a classic bedtime story. This poetic book shows friendly animals carrying children to their dreams. The pictures are whimsical and fairytale-like, with children on the backs of bears and narwhals visiting creatures of unique kinds like mermaids and so much more. Enjoy this poetry for all ages!
Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin.
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Softly Book
This board book version is much shorter for the younger crowd and has soft things for little fingers to touch.
Based on and inspired by Dr. Seuss’s Sleep, the story follows a yawn as it spreads from creature to creature. And of course, these aren’t any old normal creatures; these are Seussean creatures. It comes to a calming close when “ninety-nine zillion, nine trillion, and two creatures are sleeping! So, how about you?” Our favorite creatures are the ones asleep out in Foona-Lagoona. You know, the “two very nice Foona-Lagoona Baboona”.
Who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss? It’s impossible not to enjoy this kind of reading. Careful! You might fall asleep before your kids!
Little Owl’s Day
One thing about this book is how uniquely its illustration style helps show the beauty and detail of the world around us. Experiencing natural wonder is how kids feel divine love for animals, nature, and every breathing creature.
In this charming story, Little Owl wakes up to experience the day. He sees the forest in a whole new way. Eventually, the sun sets, dusk fades, and he heads home tired and fighting sleep.
Written and illustrated by Divya Srinivasan
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Most parents are not big fans of bedtime books where the main character doesn’t want to go to bed. Some almost feel they’re reinforcing “bad behavior”. In this book, Llama doesn’t have anything against going to bed! Llama feels a bit nervous after Mama Llama leaves the room. Most kids feel that way too. This story is about the reassurance for all kids that “Mama Llama loves them so much.” Mama Llama’s always near, even if she’s not right here.
This concept is brilliant and real all through the day, not just at night. Mama always loves you, even when she is not in school watching your every move or when you are playing sports, just like Mama is always near and loving and caring for you! What a great message to empower kids and moms!
Love doesn’t mean you have to always be physically present.
Scared of the Dark? It’s Really Scared of You
We must add new books to the list that tackle themes like being afraid of the dark.
This book turns kids’ fears on their heads by telling them that the dark is afraid of them. The text explores all of the ways that the dark hides from kids during the day and what it does at night. The illustrations portray the dark as a large, silly creature, encouraging kids to think twice about what they are afraid of. This is a great idea to calm down and open the door to conversations that are sometimes hard, especially with our parents, about our fears. And as adults, it’s a fantastic message to give to our kids and sometimes to ourselves: things may look scary, but if we take a look from a different perspective, we feel more secure and stronger to face any challenge.
Written by Peter Vegas and illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
By reading the title, you can tell it’s a cool new book.
This colorful counting book follows a group of 10 animals as they settle in for hibernation, one by one. The rhyming text is paired with adorable illustrations of animals of all sizes. In the end, the other woodland creatures gather together to wake up the ten sleeping animals, who decide to come back the next year. Kids will love counting along as the animals join in the big slumber party, as well as the brightly colored illustrations. It’s a sweet book, simple but effective.
Written by Kimberlee Gard and illustrated by Vivian Miniker
Reading bedtime stories is like unlocking a whole new level of bedtime magic. A well-chosen story has the incredible power to soothe kids’ restless minds, help them unwind, and make them feel showered with love and warmth. It’s like creating a peaceful oasis in the midst of bedtime chaos. These books have the enchanting ability to transport them to a world of tranquility and set the stage for a peaceful night’s sleep. It’s like casting a spell of serenity over their little hearts and minds. It’s a total game-changer that transforms bedtime into a delightful adventure.