Bedtime stories for kids play a major role in their development. Reading to your child each night has been shown to cognitively benefit them, with children who are read bedtime stories having higher than average literacy rates as well as an emotional connection to reading. In addition, bedtime stories give you an opportunity to bond with your child and are a welcome addition to any child’s sleep routine.
11 Best Bedtime Stories for Kids
1. Are You My Mother? – by P.D. Eastman
A bedtime classic first released in the 1960s, this illustrated story follows a baby bird who is looking for his mother but finds a colorful cast of characters along the way. Our Editor Jenn says this is one of her favorite stories that eve her mother read to her. She was happy to pass it down to her children.
2. The Great Sheep Shenanigans – by Peter Bentley
A personal favorite, this story follows Lou Pine the wolf in his outlandish attempts at getting a lamb for his supper (don’t worry, no lambs are harmed in this rhyming, illustrated children’s book).
3. Wynken, Blynken, and Nod – by Eugene Field
Another classic, having been written over a century ago and written as a poem is a fantasy bed-time story about three children sailing and fishing among the stars from a boat which is a wooden shoe.
4. Goodnight Moon – by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd.
This children’s bedtime staple follows a bunny as he says goodnight to everything he can see. It’s a great book for kids who have trouble going to bed.
5. I Love You, Baby – by Claire Freedman
Affectionate, funny, and joyful, this is the perfect book for little ones and their families to share.
6. Corduroy – by Don Freeman
Corduroy features a lovable teddy bear searching for a missing button after his residence — a popular toy store — has closed for the night. Vibrant illustrations and a positive message have endeared young readers to this book since its original publication in 1968.
7. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – by Laura Joffre Numeroff
Clever illustrations highlight this ‘what if’ story that examines the ramifications of feeding uninvited house guests.
8. The House in the Night – by Susan Marie Swanson
A 2009 Caldecott Medal winner, this evocative story features gorgeous black-and-white illustrations and an uplifting message about the meaning of home. The dreamy verses will have your kids slumbering in no time.
9. The Paddington Bear series – by Michael Bond
The 20 volumes in this imaginative series follow the title character — a teddy bear abandoned at a train station — as he travels the world and makes friends wherever he goes. As your child grows, you can watch Paddington movies together.
10. Tree: A Peek-through Book – by Britta Teckentrup
Each of the tree’s changes brings new peek through illustrations of animals and bugs in its foliage until it snows. I love the bright illustrations and peek-throughs and so will your kids.
11. Love You Forever – by Robert Munsch
One of our readers, Christina of Mom of Six submitted this lovely memory of her favorite bedtime story:
For my baby shower, in lieu of a card everyone brought a book with a little message for my daughter. I loved the idea as it set us up with a little library from the start for bedtime stories (and cards just get thrown away).
One of my favorites that was gifted to us is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. I always read the inscription from my longtime friend’s mother to start, then begin the book.
The story follows a mom through the decades with her son as she watches him grow, but no matter how big he gets she still sneaks into his room at night to rock him. As she rocks him she sings a beautiful song to him as he sleeps.
The story ends with the son rocking his mother and singing the same song to her when she is older and gets sick. You then see him return home and watch as he starts rocking his own daughter to sleep while singing. Keeping the tradition going.
It’s a beautiful story of the circle of life and the never ending love a mother feels for her children, no matter how old or how strange they become as teenagers (ha!). The little song is repeated throughout the book and helps put my daughter to sleep. She also loves babies right now, so to start and end with a baby illustration keeps her attention.
I still get a bit teary eyed when I read it, which makes me love it even more. It’s nice to mix up a sentimental book with a funny toddler book at night.
Tips on Reading to Your Child
Be over the top with the way you read bedtime stories for kids. Give your characters different voices, really emphasize different moods as they occur through the story. This will help your child use their imagination much more and really involve themselves in the story.
Don’t Read the Same Story too Frequently
Switch up the books you read at bedtime. We all know our children want the book they like the most read on repeat day after day, but suggest to try reading a new book, after which you can read their old favorite.
Involve Your Child in the Reading
Swap out certain characters names for your child’s name and draw parallels between the story and your own child’s life, driving home important messages.
It’s Never Too Early (or too late) to Start
Whether your child is 10 days, 10 months or 10 years, if you aren’t already reading bedtime stories together, today is a great day to start!
Our list of books is just a jumping-off point for you and your child to begin your bedtime story journey. Find out what gets your child interested. Do they like stories in a rhyming format? Do they enjoy bright colorful pictures? Are shorter books or longer books their thing?
Take these things into consideration when choosing a new book to add to your collection. To make it even more special, take your child to the library or book store and allow them to help you find a book they want to read for bedtime, which will make it all the more exciting for your little one once bedtime comes.
What are some of your favorite bedtime stories for kids? Sweet dreams, and happy reading!