The Best Books to Read at Bedtime

Updated Jan. 27, 2019

Bedtime is a special time and one that we often spend reading with our children. Any book is fun to read before bed, but there is a great list of books that have been made especially to soothe and calm our children before they go to sleep. We hope you find your new favorite as you scan the list below!

Hop Along Boo, Time for Bed book
#1
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.

The Going-To-Bed Book book
#2
The Going-To-Bed Book
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

Lots of bedtime stories are kind of slow and sweet. This one is lots of fun. The rhymes are great as it goes through a (semi) normal bedtime routine, with a little bit of wit and humor. We like reading this before bedtime.

Getting ready for sleep is tons of fun in this Sandra Boynton classic. The sun has set not long ago. Now everybody goes below to take a bath in one big tub with soap all over—SCRUB SCRUB SCRUB! This classic bedtime story is just right for winding down the day as a joyful, silly group of animals scrub scrub scrub in the tub, brush and brush and brush their teeth, and finally rock and rock and rock to sleep.

When the World Is Ready for Bed book
#3
When the World Is Ready for Bed
Written by Gillian Shields and illustrated by Anna Currey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I. Love. This. Book. The illustrations are beautiful, and I love that this bedtime book goes through a beautiful routine from sunset and eating dinner to discussing the day, reading a book, giving kisses, and falling asleep. The whole thing is beautiful!

A rabbit family prepares for bed by cleaning up toys, folding clothes, talking about the events of the day, and reading a book.

Lion's Lullaby book
#4
Lion's Lullaby
Written by Mij Kelly and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely love the illustrations in this sweet bedtime book! It's filled with the cutest animals and has a lovely rhyme and flow. There's not a huge story line to this one, but it's fun to go through all the animals and ask who puts them to bed. :)

With the help of hugs and lullabies, a young girl tucks her stuffed animals into bed, one by one, in this cuddly good-night read. Holly Clifton-Brown's soft palette and adorable illustrations paired with Mij Kelly's comforting rhyming text set the perfect tone for bedtime.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site book
#5
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.

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep book
#6
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.

Steam Train, Dream Train book
#7
Steam Train, Dream Train
Written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

An unabridged board book version of the bestselling hardcover, perfect for small hands! The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, and kangaroos stuff the hopper car with balls (while zebras referee). Dreamy illustrations and gentle rhyming text make this a beloved bedtime favorite for budding train enthusiasts everywhere.

Bear Is Not Tired book
#8
Bear Is Not Tired
Written and illustrated by Ciara Gavin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Bear and his duck family do everything together. That is, until winter arrives. Bear is supposed to hibernate this time of year, but he doesn’t want to miss out on any of the fun. But can Bear really stay awake all winter long? Gentle humor and endearing illustrations bring a delightful twist to a bedtime routine that children and their parents will easily recognize.

Sleep, Baby, Sleep book
#9
Sleep, Baby, Sleep
Written by Maryann Cusimano Love and illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

When you think of bedtime books you may think of lullabies and bedtime routines, but this book is different. It begins with sleep, baby, sleep, but goes through a whole series of hopes the parents have for the child: rising, soaring, laughing, climbing, growing and so much more. It is a wonderful book.

As their baby sleeps, the parents wish for their child the many characteristics found in animals, such as being gentle as a lamb, having the sight of a hawk, and the peacefulness of a snowy dove.

If Animals Kissed Good Night book
#10
If Animals Kissed Good Night
Written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by David Walker
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Rhyming text explores what would happen if animals kissed like humans do, from a slow kiss between a sloth and her cub to a mud-happy kiss from a hippo calf to his father.

Monster & Son book
#11
Monster & Son
Written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Joey Chou
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

Despite having monsters in the title, this is a rather gentle going to bed book. I enjoyed the author's incorporation of language such as "chase you into bed" and "gobbled down a snack" that shows a tender side of fatherhood while still reminding you of their monster side.

Romp along with parent and child yetis, werewolves, giant lizards, and more as they stir up some monster-sized fun! Readers big and small, young and old, wild and tame, will roar with laughter and take this book by the horns, teeth, and fur...discovering that monsters and humans aren't so different—especially in the ways they love each other.

Everyone Sleeps book
#12
Everyone Sleeps
Written and illustrated by Marcellus Hall
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

"A wide-awake dog looks for a friend in a nighttime world full of sleeping animals"--

Ten Wishing Stars book
#13
Ten Wishing Stars
Written by and illustrated by Kate Stone
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Star light, star bright…these wishing sheep will light up your night! Fluff up your pillow and turn down the lights. Counting sheep has never been so illuminating. Count down to bedtime with ten dreamy sheep as they each make a wish on a glow-in-the-dark star. A perfect book to read by nightlight!

Hush Little Baby book
#14
Hush Little Baby
Written and illustrated by Sylvia Long
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

In this variation on the classic lullaby, a mother soothes her child to sleep with the promise of such things as a quilt, a banjo tune, and the sights and sounds of nature.

Rock-a-Bye Farm book
#15
Rock-a-Bye Farm
Written by Diane Johnston Hamm and illustrated by Alexi Natchev
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This sweet, rhyming bedtime book is perfect for animal lovers. The farmer helps all of his animals get to sleep before going to bed himself. The illustrations are sweet and perfect for bedtime.

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.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star book
#16
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Written by and illustrated by Sylvia Long
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-12

In this tenderly illustrated edition of the classic rhyme, award-winning artist Sylvia Long touches the hearts of readers yet again. Her detailed watercolors depict a group of animal friends as they make their way home under the night sky to complete their bedtime rituals.

Mother Goose's Pajama Party book
#17
Mother Goose's Pajama Party
Written by Danna Smith and illustrated by Virginia Allyn
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

"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.

Good Night, Sleep Tight book
#18
Good Night, Sleep Tight
Written and illustrated by Mem Fox
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I like that this book includes a lot of different nursery rhymes and has pictures showing the story in the rhymes. This is also a great one to read about how fun babysitters can be! :) I did think it got a little repetitive as the story went along, but overall thought the book was pretty cute.

In this book with rhyming text, Bonnie and Ben's favorite babysitter reads them nursery rhymes before putting them to bed.

Go To Sheep book
#19
Go To Sheep
Written by Jennifer Sattler and illustrated by Benson Shum
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

There are many ways to go to “sheep” with this delightful bedtime board book that’s perfect for reading aloud! You can sheep in your pj’s or just underpants. You can sheep all alone but sometimes you can’t. There are lots of ways to go to “sheep,” and here to show you all of the ways is an adorable…sheep! This bedtime book is perfect for a giggle before little ones drift off to sleep, just as the sheep does in this charming board book.

Bedtime for Batman book
#20
Bedtime for Batman
Written by Michael Dahl and illustrated by Omar Lozano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

"Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger."

Goodnight Lab book
#21
Goodnight Lab
Written and illustrated by Chris Ferrie
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the great green lab There was a laser And a lab notebook And a picture of Einstein with a stern look It's been a long day at the lab for this scientist. Now it's time to say good night! Goodnight laser Goodnight notebook Goodnight picture of Einstein with a stern look While poking fun at the clutter and chaos of lab life, scientists of all ages will appreciate ending their day with this sweet parody. They'll be rested and ready to return to the world of research in the morning!

Little Hoot book
#22
Little Hoot
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

It's not fair! All Little Owl wants is to go to bed at a reasonable hour, like his friends do. But Mama and Papa say little owls have to stay up late and play. So Little Owl spends all night jumping on his bed, playing on the jungle gym, and doing tricks on his skateboard—but he's hooting mad about it! Children who have a hard time going to bed will love this fun twist on the universal dilemma.

The Runaway Hug book
#23
The Runaway Hug
Written by Nick Bland and illustrated by Freya Blackwood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

"Mommy," said Lucy. "Can I have a hug before I go to bed?" When Mommy jokes that she only has one hug left, Lucy decides she must keep Mommy's last hug safe. As Lucy shares the hug with everyone in her large and loving family, she is always careful to get it back . . . until the canine member of the family refuses to play along! Highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling picture-book creators Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood collaborate for the first time on this charming story, which celebrates the imaginative powers of children and the extraordinary love to be found in ordinary bedtime routines.

Pajama Time! book
#24
Pajama Time!
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

Pajama Time! is a good-night book with the irrepressible language, the inimitable illustrations, the irresistible cast of characters only Sandra Boynton could create. A jump-roping chicken and a pig on a swing. A Scottie in plaid pajamas and an elephant in a fuzzy one-piece with feet. And in sing-along nuttiness reminiscent of Barnyard Dance!, it's time to head to bed-to the beat: Pajammy to the left. Pajammy to the right. Jamma jamma jamma jamma P!J! Everybody's wearing them for dancing tonight. Jamma jamma jamma jamma P!J!

Sunrise, Moonrise book
#25
Sunrise, Moonrise
Written and illustrated by Betsy Thompson
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Day turns into night and some animals drift to sleep while others spring to life in this beautiful high-contrast board book. Sun rises. Bird sings. And so the day begins in this beautifully simple board book with bold artwork and lyrical text that shows us the passing of time in the day. Fish swim under a blue sky, squirrels dream as the sun sets, the moon rises as stars blink, and an owl hoots when night falls. With word repetition and a single tree that houses both the bird who sings as the sun rises and the owl who hoots after the moon rises, little ones can begin to understand that the day begins and ends in the same way.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!