32 Best Bedtime Stories for Kids, Toddlers, and Babies
Reading to your children before bed is an amazing way to create a bedtime routine, bond with your child, and help them improve their language skills. These are the best bedtime stories for kids, toddlers, and babies.
We picked a few of our favorite books that you will not mind reading on repeat. Each of these bedtime stories is cute, funny, and has a little something extra to make them special. Be sure to check out the list of read-aloud books for kids as well. Just because your child has outgrown picture books, doesn’t mean that bedtime stories have to be done as well.
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Bedtime Stories for Babies // Bedtime Stories for Toddlers // Bedtime Stories for Kids // Best Read-Aloud // Read-Aloud Books Older Kids
Best Bedtime Stories for Kids, Toddlers, and Babies
Bedtime stories have come such a long way since fairytales like Goldilocks, Three Little pigs, and The Three Bears and little red riding hood.
Why are bedtime stories important?
There are so many reasons that bedtime stories are important- I could go on forever but, I will try to keep the answer short and sweet.
1. Reading to your child at bedtime creates a wonderful opportunity to create a bedtime routine.
2. Sitting quietly with your child and reading is such a perfect way to end a busy day.
3. Read aloud books are the perfect way to help improve your child’s language abilities.
Best Bedtime Stories for Babies
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
In this classic of modern children’s literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day. This is one of the most popular bedtime stories for babies ever written.
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
I love this counting-in-reverse story that starts with 10 toes and ends with a child tucked in for bed. The story features a Black father and baby which is sadly a rare site in books for 3-year-olds.
This award winner has been a classic bedtime story for more than thirty years!
Llama Llama, Night Night by Sandra Boyton
Lots of people know Llama Llama Red Pajama, but it’s a little advanced for babies. This board book bedtime story is much more appropriate and the perfect way to introduce the book series to your baby.
Best Bedtime Stories for Toddlers
I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth
This charming bedtime story is perfect for our list of books for infants. It’s all about a mama bear explaining how much she loves her baby all throughout the day, before tucking her child in for bed. It’s a modern classic.
Goodnight Construction Site by Sherry Duskey Rinker
Little kids love construction vehicles. Is there a better way to start bedtime than a rhyming contraction book? I think not. This delightful bedtime story for 2-year-olds is the first in a series.
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Boynton’s books are filled with humor, bright colorful pictures, and wonderful rhymes. They are completely addictive. We read these books until they fall apart (which for a board book is difficult to do). The story makes no sense but that is part of the reason that we love it so much. If you are looking for hilarious bedtime stories for toddlers, Sandra Boyton has a few picks perfect for you, like Pajama Time.
Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
I absolutely adore this bedtime story. This is the perfect book for a 4-year-old train lover! It’s all about a train, run by animals as they prepare to go to sleep for the night. The pictures are warm and dream-like and the story is just magical.
The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan
At some point in any parent’s life, their child will try to convince them that they NEED to sleep in mom & dad’s bed. This hysterical story takes it a step further as the child attempts to kick daddy out of bed…permanently. Everyone in my family loved this story and it’s a frequent bedtime request. Bunmi Laditan is the author behind the famed Honest Toddler account.
Goodnight, Football by Michael Dahl
Have a kid who is too geared up after the big game? Try reading them this bedtime book about football. With rhyming text and lovely illustrations, this bedtime story is a win for any football fan. And if you love football, check out 7 Football Books for Kids in Time for the Big Game.
Bedtime Stories About Love
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
I love that this book is about a father and his son. The baby bunny is talking about how much he loves his dad who tells the baby bunny how much he loves him in return. “I love you to the moon and back”. Truer words are hard to find. We cannot think of a more perfect Father’s Day picture book.
I Love You, Stink Face by Lisa McCord
This grossly-cute board book is a lovely bedtime story for the little monster in your life. This story is all about a mother’s love.
Whether the baby is an alligator, a swamp creature, a one-eyed monster, or an alien, the mother in this tale shows a way to love her child!
Bedtime Stories About Animals
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Rhyming, animals, and the sweet words in this book make it the perfect companion before bed. I loved setting up a routine that let my kids know that bedtime was coming.
We would take a bath, put on lotion and snuggle up to read a story. I made sure that my voice was quiet and soothing. Even if you have a brand new baby, incorporating a book into your nightly routine is a wonderful way to end the day.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen
This hysterical tale is one for kids who struggle with going to bed. In the story, the dinosaurs showcase bad behaviors before showing the correct way to go to bed.
Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This book is hilarious and a favorite in our house to this day. The sweet animals and the completely clueless zookeeper are laugh-out-loud funny. One of my oldest son’s first words was “armadillo” which says something about how amusing this book is.
If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul
This is an adorable bedtime story for babies. Even though your little one may not understand all the words, the adorable pictures of animals kissing good night are too cute and your baby will love the sounds of your voice as well as the rhymes.
Best Bedtime Stories for Kids
Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
This is a hilarious bedtime story and one of the read-aloud books that you will not mind reading over and over. Pigeon does not want to go to sleep and finds very creative ways to avoid bedtime.
You and your child will love reading this book together.
Mortimer by Robert Munch
This is one of the bedtime stories for kids that I actually read when I was younger. It is definitely a classic that has withstood the test of time.
As a kid, I thought this was hilarious, as a parent, I can relate all too well! Mortimer does not want to go to bed and makes sure everyone knows!
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
This book is filled with 100 bedtime stories about the lives of extraordinary women throughout history. This is one of the read-aloud books that you might not want to put down.
And, as your rebel girl gets older, these are the perfect bedtime stories for her to read on her own.
5 Minute Sleepy Time Stories: 4 Stories in 1 by Disney Books
This book has adorable and quick bedtime stories that your child will love. Filled with your favorite Disney characters, these sweet read-aloud stories are sure to melt your heart.
Bedtime Story Anthologies
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit are some of the most beloved stories in children’s literature. Her fantastic illustrations and Peter’s engrossing escapades have stood the test of time.
I was so pleased when I learned there would be a movie adaptation of the series. This book is one that should be on every kid’s bookshelf! And don’t forget to watch the netflix book adaptation!
Nursery Rhyme Time: A Collection of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes by Mother Goose
A post about the best bedtime stories for toddlers and kids would not be complete without nursery rhymes by Mother Goose. These wonderful and nonsensical rhymes and short and sweet.
This collection is the perfect read-aloud book for your nighttime routine.
Chapter Books for Younger Kids: Best Read Aloud Bedtime Stories
The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
I adore this story about a little boy who gets the magical power to turn everything he touches into chocolate. This twist on the Midas Touch is adorable and the thought of turning parents into chocolate had my kids rolling with laughter. This is one of our favorite read-aloud books
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
My youngest son’s favorite early reader series revolved around a pig named Mercy Watson. We have every book about this charming pig being raised as a child in the Watson home.
There is also a spin-off series about her neighbors on Deckawoo Drive. These are the perfect books for a 6-year-old and perfect for a list of read-aloud books as well!
Howliday Inn by James Howe
Technically the sequel to Bunnicula, this read-aloud book can really be read as a stand-alone. Chester and Harold are being boarded while their family is on vacation, but they are convinced they are staying in a haunted hotel!
I remember laughing out loud as I read this book as a child. This one stands the test of time.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
This story is quite the classic and it revolves around all things candy! With its creeptastic vibes, it’s also wonderful for Halloween.
Charlie is thrilled when he gets a golden ticket to see inside Willy Wonka’s amazing chocolate factory, but this is no ordinary candy factory. The machines and recipes behind the walls of the factory are what dreams are made of. This is a wonderful read-aloud book.
The Wayside School Collection by Louis Sacher
Louis Sachar’s hysterical collection of stories about the students of Wayside School is a true must-read for students and a perfect read-aloud book.
The wacky tales and backward ways of the students and teachers at Wayside will have your child in a fit of giggles.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B White
This is such a wonderful story of unconditional love and friendship. When Fern saves the life of Wilbur, the runt of the pig litter, Charlotte befriends him and ultimately saves his life a second time.
This is such a heartwarming story. I try to read it without crying. Not only is this one of the great family audiobooks for road trips (it’s a perfect read-aloud book as well), but it is a bedtime story with a beautiful message.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Styles Barnett
I love this book. It was my kid’s first fantasy chapter book. This is a wonderful book with a wonderful message as well and a perfect read-aloud bedtime story.
It is such a great story and continues with two more books after. Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland complete this trilogy.
Chapter Books for Older Kids: Best Read Aloud Bedtime Stories
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling
I was in university when this book was published and the first four were sitting on my younger brother’s bookshelf before I picked it up to see what the fuss was about. I read all four books in as many days and was married with a child before the final book was published.
This is the book that introduces us to Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger; our fearless trio. We also meet the other favorite beloved and detested characters that make the Harry Potter book series so special. After all, what would Hogwarts be without Hagrid, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, and Draco Malfoy?
Harry Potter shows up on our list of books like Percy Jackson too! And if you love Harry as we do, check out our 17 Books like Harry Potter for Kids Obsessed with Magic or 21 Adult Books Similar to Harry Potter for Fans of Magic.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
This pick from our list of mystery books for tweens is another middle-grade story that adults will enjoy too. Mr. Lemoncello’s library is one of a kind. It’s full of holograms, logic puzzles, and hidden games.
To officially open the new library, a few lucky kids get to spend the night inside as they try to win Mr. Lemoncello’s game and be the first team to escape. If you are looking for great bedtime stories for kids, this series will hit the mark. This is also a great read-aloud book for you and your child to enjoy together.
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
While this story is about the land of fairy tales, think Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, it has the element of magic and wonder that Harry Potter fans will love.
Alex and Connor’s grandmother gives them the family book of fairy tales. Before they understand what is happening, they find themselves transported into the book. They set off on an adventure to get back home. We absolutely love this book and think it is one of the great read-aloud books for kids.
When it comes to books for Percy Jackson fans, this series is top of our list!
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
If the changing staircases, room of requirement, and secrets passages are your child’s favorite parts about Hogwarts, this is the series for them!
Princess Celie lives in an ever-changing castle that adds new rooms every Tuesday. She eagerly maps out each new addition that might just end up saving her family when danger heads to their home. This is one of the read-aloud books for kids that I read to my kids. We both loved it and it was a wonderful pick from bedtime stories for kids.
Wonder by R.J Palacio
A must-read for kids in middle school, this is an amazing book about embracing differences, kindness, and being yourself. However, this would also be a wonderful read-aloud book for a younger audience. CW: This is one of the books that will make you cry.
August Pullman is a boy with an extraordinary facial difference. He has been homeschooled his entire life and is starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep. This book is amazing and has a lesson about love and acceptance that everyone needs to read.
Holes by Louis Sachar
A great middle-grade book about camp (and yet another that was adapted into a movie!) Holes should be on every child’s list. And, if you are looking for bedtime stories for kids, this is a great read-aloud for a younger child that cannot read this themselves.
When a boy under a curse is sent to a detention camp he’s taught to behave by digging holes all day, every day. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s digging for a reason – but what are the camp wardens looking to find?
What is the Best Bedtime Story Ever?
The number one bestselling bedtime story is Goodnight Moon. Is this the best bedtime story ever? That is so hard to say. We love every book on this list and we hope you do too.