Best Bedtime Stories to Read, Why & Where to Find Them

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Bedtime is special—and that’s coming from someone who hasn’t been tucked in for decades!

As a parent, though, the time is just as magical, and even more so given the fact that you get to experience all the newness from your point of view as mom or dad, while also replaying everything that made bedtime great as a child. Comfy jammies, fresh-out-of-bubble-bath hair, cozy sheets…and of course, bedtime stories.

With each year that passes comes a host of new and trendy bedtime books, some of which resemble old tales, and others that offer a fresh new spin and perspective to connect with today’s real-world. Meaning, there are a lot of options!

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Not to mention that they all look really great, and with the available tools, from easy design with Canva, to easy publishing with KDP, anyone with a great idea and motivation can put “pen to paper” and then get that paper easily spun up into a sellable book.

Given all of that, and fresh off of a weekend full of book reorganization in our own household, I wanted to highlight a few bedtime stories any child would be lucky to have read to them, and any parent should feel good about passing along.

Bedtime Stories to Read To Your Kids

The Going to Bed Book
By Sandra Boynton

For kids, one key piece of bedtime is the routine; the consistency found in each of the wind-down steps that need to be taken before they crawl under their covers.

And that’s one of the many great things about The Going to Bed Book, which follows a group of friendly animals who are all going through their nightly routine in order to be able to peacefully rock off to sleep—from the tub, to PJs, and even a little exercise time!

Just Go to Bed

By Mercer Mayer

Let’s face it—for as magical a time bedtime can be, it can also be a grind, and a chore for us parents! Those nights you feel kids should nod off without issue turn out to be the most difficult, and of course the times where they fall asleep without issue, only to spring right up 30 minutes later.

So, if you’re feeling the frustration, Just Go To Bed might be as valuable of a read for you the parent as it is your child.

In a classic back and forth between what kids want to do (never-ending bath time as a “sea monster”) and what dad needs them to do (get out already so we can move on to the nightly snack), the story is a fun read as the entire family makes their way from evening play to it’s time to drift away.

The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein

The best stories conjure up some type of emotion, and depending on the age and maturity level of your little one, it might be best to keep that emotion as happy or inspiring.

For others who may be able to handle a bit more of an emotional roller coaster, a book like The Giving Tree is a good one for a number of reasons. Above all else, it teaches a couple of great lessons, from being respectful of those who care for you to giving everything you have to those you love, and the fact that when we do love, we do so unconditionally.

And hey, it’s written by the great Shel Silverstein, author of other classics like Where the Sidewalk Ends.

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If Animals Kissed Goodnight
By Ann Whitford Paul

Some really good books are nonsense, and that’s OK!

But, it’s always nice to come across a book that has perfect rhyming and tempo, is cute, expertly-illustrated, and, has some educational value in terms of teaching things without having to be so obvious when doing so.

For instance, the book easily and entertainingly teaches that sloths move slow, and that hippo, giraffe, and walrus babies are called calves!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
by Laura Numeroff

Fun. Just fun. And, nostalgia, as many of you would probably agree—If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was written back in 1985 if you can believe it!

Fun illustrations, and a easy, almost riddle-like setup that encourages kids to follow along, the book is a classic.

And, again, it’s not just all “fluff,” as kids can start associating like items as they progress from page to page (cookie, milk, straw, etc.).

Guess How Much I Love You
By Sam McBratney

A heartwarming story that reminds us that you can never truly realize a parent’s love for their child until you’re a parent yourself!

By comparing the “size” of the love each has for the other, Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare go back and forth to show just how big and far-reaching their feelings are.

(Now, I will say, in most situations, you expect the parent to back down and let the child “win,” but if there was any time for a parent to keep one-upping, it’s when showing just how much love they have for their children.)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
By Eric Carle

Books by author Eric Carle are a staple in our household, as I’m sure they are in many of you—Brown Bear, Brown Bear and From Head to Toejust to name a couple.

And then, of course, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, who feels like he just can’t get enough to eat, and then eats way too much, only to find himself going through a beautiful transformation at the end of it all.

The book keeps kids interested thanks to its colorful animations, easy-to-turn pages, and mini flips within. For further conversation, it gives way to topics like discipline, personal transformation, and of course the natural metomorphasis in the life of a caterpillar.

I’ll Love You Forever
By Robert Munsch

Now, again—some of these books will hit you hard with the emotion, with I’ll Love You Forever following the journey of a young son who is told repeatedly “I’ll love you forever, my baby you’ll be” as he progresses through the different stages of life.

The repetition makes for a great follow-along with the kids, and the entire book opens the door for conversation around getting older, and the reciprocal, unconditional love between parent and child.

Goodnight Moon
By Margaret Wise Brown

And what is a bedtime story list without Goodnight Moon? Published way back in 1947, Goodnight Moon has been a night time staple in houses everywhere, calming and soothing young minds as they drift away to dreamland.

This one doesn’t need much explanation but from its soft illustration and cadence makes it stand out as one of the best when it comes to winding kids down from even the busiest of days.

What Makes a Good Bedtime Story?

Taking all of the above into consideration, what makes for the best bedtime stories? Those stories about nighttime and bedtime specifically are always good titles to start with, as they typically do a nice job reminding kids that after their play, snack, bath, and brushing of teeth, it’s time for sleep.

Then of course, books about love and the relationship between parent and child typically work wonders in providing the calm and soothing atmosphere required for a lasting night’s sleep.

I’ll end by saying, have you ever wanted to write your own personal and unique bedtime story? I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my success as a children’s lit ghostwriter on Fiverr, where there are other plenty great story writers as well.

With that, good luck! What are some of your favorite bedtime stories to read at night?

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About Ryan 28 Articles
Ryan is the owner of Rent My Words, a business and site started to help everyday people, (beginners without any experience, basically) find success with marketing, their writing projects, and freelance work on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork and others.