Calming Reads For Bedtime: Books For Kids

Reading at bedtime is a sacred ritual in many households, perhaps because it provides an opportunity to slow down the pace of the day, relax and achieve some semblance of calm before hoping that children nod off to sleep, getting the rest that they (and you!) need. While the benefits of reading (and reading at bedtime) are achievable regardless of what you’re reading (snuggles + books = emotional security + calm), as parents we know that some books lend themselves better to calming excess energy than others. For the same reason that I choose to sing calming lullabys to my toddler right before sleep rather than his oft requested Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, here are some wonderfully soothing books to help achieve pre-bedtime peace! While some of these are specifically “bedtime” books, others have different subject matter but are still perfect to slow the pace before heading off for sweet dreams. And don’t forget that reading aloud is helpful for older kids too! By reading aloud to them above their reading level, you’ll still get the benefits of bonding and you’ll improve their vocabulary and comprehension as well.

Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep book
#1
Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep
Written by Katie Blackburn and illustrated by Richard Smythe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

For fans of the bestselling phenomenon The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, Katie Blackburn’s Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep is an innovative, beautiful, and rhythmic picture book about a little bear named Dozy who wanted to sleep but didn’t know how… Combining proven sleep and relaxation techniques with Richard Smythe’s gorgeous, dreamlike illustrations, this is the perfect companion for any parent who wants to turn naptime or bedtime into a calming experience.

Hop Along Boo, Time for Bed book
#2
Hop Along Boo, Time for Bed
Written by Mark Sperring and illustrated by Mandy Sutcliffe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is an AMAZING book that I never get tired of reading and my toddler never gets tired of listening to. He’ll ask for this book again and again and again and when we had a couple night stay in the hospital earlier this year, this is one of the three books we grabbed as we ran out the door. The illustrations are peaceful and dreamy (the parades of children in their pajamas are my favorite!) and the rhymes are calming and lullaby-esque.

Join Belle and her bunny, Boo, as they follow ballerinas, cowboys, pirates, and others through dreamy fantasies to a cozy bed of their own. Gentle rhymes and luminous illustrations will help little ones wind down and tuck in for a good night’s sleep. This lullaby journey is as captivating and soothing as any parent or child could want — by the end, there won’t be an open eye in the house!

Belle & Boo is a British lifestyle brand known for original, nostalgic ‘story book’ illustrations of children. Visit them at belleandboo.com.

Goodnight Bear book
#3
Goodnight Bear
Written and illustrated by Jane Cabrera
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Get baby ready to go to sleep and say goodnight to all the different animals in this adorable board book! Goodnight, moon, shining bright, sleepy babies kiss night-night! It’s time for baby to go to sleep! Little ones will love saying goodnight to all the baby animals with their animal sounds in this adorable board book, including a fox (Yap Yap), an owl (Whoo-Whoo), a bat (Flap Flap), a mouse (Squeak Squeak), a kitten (Meow Meow), a bear (Grrr Grr), a hedgehog (Snuffle Snuffle), a wolf (Wooh Wooh), and finally, a baby (Shh Shh)!

If I Was the Sunshine book
#4
If I Was the Sunshine
Written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Loren Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A breathtaking picture book about the relationships we share from New York Times bestselling storytellers Julie Fogliano and Loren Long in the tradition of The Runaway Bunny and Guess How Much I Love You. if i was the sunshine and you were the day i’d call you hello! and you’d call me stay if you were the winter and i was the spring i’d call you whisper and you’d call me sing… Through clever, thought-provoking verse and warmly evocative art, New York Times bestsellers Julie Fogliano and Loren Long explore the awe-inspiring nature of relationships, love, and connection.

I Took The Moon for a Walk book
#5
I Took The Moon for a Walk
Written by Carolyn Curtis and illustrated by Alison Jay
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

Embark on a dreamy, nighttime jaunt with a young boy and the moon. Overcoming a fear of the dark and discovering the world at night lives at the heart of this poetic tale. Includes notes about the moon and plants and animals that thrive in the wee hours.

  1. The Things I Love About Bedtime - A book that celebrates the joys of bedtime! There are so many things to love at bedtime: playing, reading, talking, and dreaming! THINGS I LOVE ABOUT BEDTIME is a board book that celebrates the joys of the bedtime process. From taking a bath to brushing teeth to putting on pajamas to reading books in bed, follow one happy little bunny through an adorably illustrated, classic bedtime routine that puts the “sweet” in “sweet dreams.”

  2. Thank You and Good Night - Patrick McDonnell’s first bedtime book captures the magic of a sleepover with friends, and reminds us to cherish life’s simplest pleasures. During a fun pajama party, three animal friends dance and play, but at last everyone is getting sleepy. Is it time for bed yet? Not before taking the time to say thank you for the day, the night, and good friends.

  3. Good Night, My Love - Good night, my love. Sweet dreams, sleep tight. I love, love, love you…. Nighty-night! Fun-shaped lift-the-flaps, featuring sweet characters enjoying the bright and sunny day, flip open to reveal them dressed in pajamas, nightcaps, and fuzzy slippers, all tucked in and ready for bed. A perfect book for parents to share as they wish baby sweet dreams and good night. Good Night, My Love reminds little ones how much they are cherished through Sandra Magsamen’s signature heartfelt text and cozy hand-stitched illustration style.

  4. Anne of Green Gables - The Cuthberts are in for a shock. They are expecting an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables � but a skinny red-haired girl turns up instead. Highly spirited Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter, and soon it’s impossible to imagine life without her. A favourite classic with cover and introduction by the inimitable Lauren Child, award-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the hugely popular Charlie and Lola series.

Tomorrow Most Likely book
#10
Tomorrow Most Likely
Written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Lane Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Rather than focusing on going to bed—and what kid wants to think about going to bed?—this book explores all of the dreamy, wonderful, strange things the next day might bring. Whimsical, witty, and hopeful, this revolutionary rewriting of a classic goodnight book from bestselling author Dave Eggers and award-winning illustrator Lane Smith is a bedtime story for tomorrow ever after.

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep book
#11
All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep
Written by Crescent Dragonwagon and illustrated by David McPhail
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Now in board book format, this lyrical animal ABC book is just right for bedtime—or anytime! From antlered antelope to zzz-ing zebra, all the awake animals are getting sleepy in this abridged board book edition of a favorite bedtime alphabet book, from an acclaimed author and bestselling illustrator. This exquisite celebration of language and nature is perfect for lulling little ones into a cozy, soothing slumber.

Peter Pan book
#12
Peter Pan
Written and illustrated by J.M. Barrie
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland – the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles…

When the Moon Came Down book
#13
When the Moon Came Down
Written and illustrated by Feridun Oral
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A magical bedtime story about friendship that eases nighttime fears Little Bunny just can’t sleep. He’s hungry, but too scared of the dark to go looking for food. Then he sees a bright light nearby—what can it be? Can it really be the Moon, come down from the sky to see him? A surprising friendship is celebrated with delicate and charming pictures by a prizewinning illustrator.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book
#14
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The #1 New York Times bestseller As the sun sets behind the big construction site, all the hardworking trucks get ready to say goodnight. One by one, Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator finish their work and lie down to rest—so they’ll be ready for another day of rough and tough construction play! With irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text, this book will have truck lovers of all ages begging for more.

  1. Good Night Arkansas - Good Night Arkansas features wildlife, the Arkansas State Fair, Bull Shoals Lake, Hot Springs National Park, Scott Family Amazeum, Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas Museum of Discovery, the University of Arkansas and more! This engaging and educational board book takes readers on a tour of “the Natural State,” including beautiful wildlife throughout Ozark National Forest and the Ouachita Mountains. Go, little Hogs! This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting themes. Many of North America’s most beloved regions are artfully celebrated in these board books designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for North America’s natural and cultural wonders. Each book stars a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions as rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place. Welcome to Arkansas! Young Arkansans and visitors will be enchanted by the journey through “the Natural State” in this bedtime board book.

  2. Good Night Cape Cod National Seashore - Good Night Cape Cod National Seashore explores sandy beaches, kettle ponds, salt marshes, woodlands, lighthouses, park rangers, biking trails, wildlife including whales, beach grass, piping plovers, harbor seals, and more. From Chatham Light all the way to Race Point Beach, this enriching and colorful board book introduces little nature enthusiasts to the natural wonders of Cape Cod National Seashore. This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting themes. Many of North America’s most beloved regions are artfully celebrated in these board books designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for North America’s natural and cultural wonders. Each book stars a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions as rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place. Young nature and beach lovers alike will marvel at the beauty of Cape Cod National Seashore in this engaging and educational board book.

  3. Good Night Colors - Good Night Colors features a yellow school bus, green rainforest, turquoise waves, rainbow-sprinkles, crayons, a red fire truck, white snow, purple grapes, painting colors, blue and pink cotton candy, eye colors, orange clownfish, and more. This educational and colorful board book pairs everyday objects with an array of colors, making it fun and easy for young readers to understand the world around them through a classic bedtime story. This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting themes. Experience the rainbow with every turn of the page in this enriching bedtime board book!

  4. Good Night Mindful Child - Good Night Here and Now explores the senses, focusing the mind, breathing exercises, relaxing, kindness, how to use imagination, thinking calm thoughts prior to falling asleep, and beautiful images of animals and nature. This charming board book presents mindfulness in kid-friendly ways. Children are naturally mindful and curious; Goodnight Here and Now helps kids strengthen those natural tendencies to build resiliency in fun ways. This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting themes.

Guess How Much I Love You book
#19
Guess How Much I Love You
Written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure them. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not an easy thing to measure! For two decades, Sam McBratney’s timelessly endearing story, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s exquisite watercolors, has captured the deep and tender bond between parent and child. Guess How Much I Love You is one of the world’s best-loved picture books.

The Adventures of Robin Hood book
#20
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Written and illustrated by Roger Lancelyn Green
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The classic story of social justice and outrageous cunning. Robin Hood, champion of the poor and oppressed, stands against the cruel power of Prince John and the brutal Sheriff of Nottingham. Taking refuge in the vast Sherwood Forest with his band of men, he remains determined to outwit his enemies.

The Wizard of Oz book
#21
The Wizard of Oz
Written and illustrated by L. Frank Baum
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival… will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

Rock-a-Bye Farm book
#22
Rock-a-Bye Farm
Written by Diane Johnston Hamm and illustrated by Alexi Natchev
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

From a baby to a horse, the farmer is rocking everybody to sleep on this farm! Originally published in 1992, Rock-a-Bye Farm is filled with sweet lullabies. Little Simon is bringing this humorous and touching bedtime story back in a board book format with beautiful new illustrations.

The Storybook Knight book
#23
The Storybook Knight
Written by Helen Docherty and illustrated by Thomas Docherty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Even dragons love a good story…

Leo was a gentle knight in thought and word and deed. While other knights liked fighting, Leo liked to sit and read…

When Leo’s mom and dad pack him off to fight a dragon, he takes a shield, a sword―and a pile of his favorite books.

But can a story be as mighty as a sword?

  1. Mother Goose's Pajama Party - “Star light, star bright, Come to story time tonight. Bring your friends and don’t be late. Meet at my house, half past eight.” Mother Goose has invited all her nursery rhyme friends to her house for a magical sleepover. See the Cow that jumped over the moon, who tells the Dish, who tells the Spoon, who are soon joined by Little Bo Peep, Miss Muffet, Georgie Porgie, and a whole troop of other nursery time friends. What starts with a lively parade to Mother Goose’s house ends in a cozy goodnight scene featuring everyone’s favorite nursery rhyme characters, the ideal note for bedtime. Includes an afterword with all the classic nursery rhymes featured in the book, making it a true treasury.

  2. You Are Special - Every day the small wooden people called Wemmicks do the same thing: stick either gold stars or gray dots on one another. The pretty ones―those with smooth wood and fine paint―always get stars. The talented ones do, too. Others, though, who can do little or who have chipped paint, get ugly gray dots. Like Punchinello. In this heartwarming children’s tale from best-selling author Max Lucado, Eli the woodcarver helps Punchinello understand how special he is―no matter what other Wemmicks may think. It’s a vital message for children everywhere: that regardless of how the world evaluates them, God cherishes each of them, just as they are. This tale originally appeared within one of the chapters in the award-winning children’s bestseller Tell Me the Secrets.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!