The 10 Best Bedtime Stories

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  • November 18, 2013

The Best Bedtime StoriesIt’s National Children’s Book week, and in honor of that, I thought I’d do a round up of some of our parent’s (and my) favorite bedtime stories. From the tried and true to the newer titles, I know that there’s a book in here for every mom and every child.

Let’s get started, shall we?

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark, by Jill Tomlinson

In this adorable story, Plop, a baby barn owl, is afraid of the dark. This is a challenge, because owls are nocturnal! The story follows Plop as he finds all the good things about the dark, from fireworks to telescopes, to camping. Tomlinson’s beautiful illustrations help to capture Plop’s transition from being afraid of the dark to understanding why it’s not really scary.

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise

I’m sure you remember the “great green room” and the charming little bunny-boy who lives there. From the clock to the quiet old lady, this story always brings a smile to my face. Your child will love the illustrations, and the gradual transition from light to dark. It’s so much fun to tell everything goodnight!

The Going-To-Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton

If you love rhymes, you’ll love this book. It’s silly, and sweet, and perfect to get the last few giggles out. As you read, the animals go through a bedtime routine that is completely silly, but ends with everyone rocking to sleep.

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

For those nights where things don’t quite got as smoothly as you would like, this is a great choice. Max wears on his mother’s patience and is sent to bed, only to have an amazing adventure in his room that takes him across the sea and through to weeks to where the wild things live. He learns that being rambunctious is fun, but it’s more fun to be safe in your own bed.

Although I love this story, some children (like my girls when they were very young) may find the Wild Things to be a bit scary, so please use your discretion, and consider introducing this book during waking hours before you use it as a bedtime story.

Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman

This is such a fun book. The zookeeper goes through the zoo telling each animal “goodnight”, but what he doesn’t realize is that the money has his keys and is taking everyone (and animal!) to sleep at the zookeeper’s home. It’s up to his wife to return everyone to their proper beds (much like most moms). This book is short on words, but big on engaging pictures, and is the perfect way to wind down.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, by Tom Lichtenheld

In this adorable book, it’s time for all of the big machines to go to bed. Learn the names of some heavy equipment as your little one is engaged in beautiful illustrations and a touching story.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, by Kate Toms

In this re-take on a classic children’s song, a little mouse wonders all about the stars. From questions like “are there enough stars for everyone?” and musings about catching a star and keeping it as a pet, this story is beautifully written and fun. Walk through the little mouse’s bedtime routine and fall in love with a nursery rhyme all over again.

I’ll See You in the Morning, by Mike Jolley

Some children have a hard time going to sleep because mom and dad aren’t there. This story helps to reassure your child that you’re always with them, even when they’re sleeping in the most touching way.

Bear Snores On , by Karma Wilson

This is one of my favorites. Bear is hibernating for winter, and one by one his friends come into his den and throw a party, but poor bear just keeps snoring on, until a pepper flake suddenly awakes him! This charming story of friendship and sleeping through anything (wouldn’t that be nice!) is sure to be a hit.

A Book of Sleep, by Il Sung Na

Another book that is sparse in text but rich in illustrations, your children will love this soothing story of an owl watching all of her forest friends fall to sleep in their own way.

I know that’s 10, but I just couldn’t leave out one of my personal favorites:

The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn

While this book isn’t necessarily about going to bed, it’s a great story about separation, and we all know that bedtime is a big separation (especially for our toddlers who begin to understand that mom and dad are still up). Chester the Raccoon is scared to go to school, but his mother assures him that he’ll be fine, and lets him in on the sweetest family secret. This story will melt your heart.

I hope that you find a new favorite bedtime story from my list. And, in honor of National Children’s Book Week, I’m excited to be giving away a copy of the e-book, Lucy the Dinosaur to one lucky reader!

Lucy the Dinosaur, illustrated by Joey Ahlbum

Do you have an inquisitive little one? If you do, Lucy is your ticket to scientific exploration. She has questions about everything. To find the answers, Lucy is always searching, and she’s not afraid of setbacks and hurdles. Your children will learn persistence and healthy curiosity while being entertained with Lucy.

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What’s your family’s favorite bedtime story?

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Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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