Having a variety of books will help your child expand their horizons and save your sanity, as it (hopefully) means you won’t have to reread that same book you can’t stand hundreds of nights in a row!
We gathered input from our team of moms and experienced writers and editors. We combined our decades of nightly read-aloud experience to learn which books are appealing to each age range and which are likely to be tossed aside (or to drive you nuts while reading). We’ve shared our kids’ favorite bedtime books and polled the masses to discover some new titles.
We’ll discuss our tips for finding age-appropriate books and provide reviews of the best bedtime books for kids of all ages. These books are thought-provoking, imaginative, and enjoyable for kids and parents, and most include beautiful, engaging illustrations.
Read on for better bedtime reading!
The Best Kids Bedtime Books of 2023
Here are 21 excellent books to read to your kids at bedtime.
If Animals Kissed Goodnight
For the preschool crowd, this title is a great bedtime book option. Your preschooler will love going through the pages with you while acting out all the ways different animals kiss each other goodnight.
It uses rhyme to engage your reader, and the hand-drawn illustrations add a soft touch to this bedtime tale. We recommend reading this in a gentle voice to help your child drift off to dreamland.
Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
For the Dreamer
If your preschooler has an active imagination, this story is a staple for them. In this book, your child gets to choose what their “dream animal” is.
It uses rhyming text to hook your bookworm, and the illustrations help your child visualize their dream animal. We like this title because after you’re done reading, you can talk about what dreams they’d like to have.
Bedtime for Batman
It’s never too early to introduce alternative writing styles. With this title, suitable for 1-year-olds and up, you can present comics to your child.
This reading adventure will take you and your child on a journey through the treacherous feat that is bedtime, but with Batman for support. It describes all the aspects of a regular routine — potty, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and more. It’s a favorite for kids who are fans of Batman and will get them excited about doing their bedtime routine.
Firefly, Light up the Sky
I generally like to avoid noisy books during bedtime reading, but this Eric Carle title is an exception to that rule.
This set includes a book and an interactive flashlight that makes bug sounds. The book is a pop-up style, which is perfect for preschoolers, although kids as young as 18 months might enjoy it.
Have your child press the appropriate buttons on the flashlight, helping them follow along while you read. They’ll also love holding the flashlight and shining it on the firefly in the book. They’ll discover which bugs are hiding in the shadows, keeping even the busiest kids entertained during storytime.
This is a fun book to read in the dark, as the flashlight adds an extra element of adventure.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Most Fantastical Read
Picture books are fine until you realize your child has graduated to more challenging books. The Harry Potter series is a must-have for any child aged 9 years and above.
If you aren’t familiar with Harry, he’s a young boy who lives with some not-so-nice relatives. He finds out that he is not only a wizard but a famous one with a complicated family history. The series takes the reader along with Harry and his friends as they navigate school and save the mystical world.
Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late
Best for Beginning Readers
This is one of the many pigeon-themed books by Mo Willems. This book is great for bedtime because it gives your child the responsibility of ensuring the pigeon goes right to bed and doesn’t dilly-dally.
Throughout the story, the pigeon tries to talk his way out of going to bed but eventually gives up the battle and falls asleep. This title is best for older preschoolers and early elementary.
The Runaway Bunny
A Multi-Generational Favorite
This title was first published in 1942 and hasn’t gone out of print since. That goes to show just how well-loved it is by generations, both young and old.
The story follows a mother and a baby bunny. Baby bunny proclaims he will run away, but his mother assures him she will be there, no matter what. We recommend this book for children ages 4 and up.
Guess How Much I Love You
For Daddy-and-Me Storytime
In this story, Little Nutbrown Hare and his dad take turns debating how much they love each other. Despite how much Little Nutbrown thinks he loves his dad, his dad wins the argument as he drifts off to sleep.
This preschool tale is perfect for the nights when daddy is in charge of bedtime. The story attests to a parent’s unconditional love for their child.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
This one is full of llama drama as the baby llama gets worried every time his mama llama leaves his room at night. When he hollers for her, she returns and reassures him that everything will be alright and that it’s time to sleep.
The story’s catchy rhyme makes this one an easy contender for your preschooler’s favorite bedtime read.
Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief
Your 10-year-old will love delving into the Percy Jackson series. Percy is a dyslexic boy who struggles to fit in. As he comes to find out, he’s actually a demigod.
Percy ends up at a camp for other half-bloods, where he meets the children of other Greek gods and goddesses. The series has five books and another spin-off series, so your child will be able to enjoy this world throughout their preteen years and beyond.
Best Classic for Babies
In this book, we’re taken through the little bunny’s bedtime routine while he says “goodnight” to everything in his room.
This one is a classic for any baby, toddler, or child up to preschool age. The soothing words and simple story are perfect for lulling your child right to sleep. The gentle illustrations add a nice touch as well.
What Do You Do With An Idea?
Inspire the Little Dreamer
Is your young reader quite the inventive force? In this award-winning story, a child has an idea but lacks the confidence to act on it. As the story progresses, so does the child’s confidence until, eventually, the idea turns into something brilliant.
This title is recommended for children aged 5 to 8 and is sure to inspire your thinker to dream up a concept or two.
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
Witty Rhymes for Beddy-Time
If you’re a family of Seuss lovers, you’ll want this book in your collection. The story uses a witty writing style to encourage sleepy time for any kid aged 5 and up.
The rhyming tale revolves around Van Vleck, a small bug who yawns and sets off a chain reaction. As the story progresses, Van’s friends get sleepy until it eventually reaches your child.
Be careful, though, this may just lull you to sleep too!
Magic Treehouse Boxed Set
Best for Independent Readers
This series follows two siblings as they go on out-of-this-world adventures every time they step inside their treehouse.
The set we chose contains the first four books to get your child started on the series. With these books, your reader will get to journey with dinosaurs, meet a knight, wake up to mummies, and go on a pirate adventure.
The books are recommended for children aged 6 to 8 years old. The stories are so exciting your child won’t even realize they’re learning animal facts, history, and more as you read. We also love that each book in this series has a nonfiction fact tracker companion book you can purchase to dive deeper into the story’s subject matter.
365 Bedtime Stories & Rhymes
A Story for Every Occasion
If you want variety but don’t want a ton of different books, this one will be a lifesaver. It comes with enough stories and rhymes to last a full year of bedtime reading. The beautiful cover will definitely stand out on your child’s bookshelf.
Treasuries like this allow you and your child to choose as many or as few stories and rhymes as you’d like to read. This one is recommended for children ages 4 and up.
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You
There’s a reason Nancy Tillman has made this list twice. Her writing and illustrations are not only guaranteed to make you shed a tear, but they’re perfect for settling down your children.
In this title, Tillman emphasizes the power of a parent’s love. It starts out with the narrator (you) telling your child you wanted them more than they’ll ever know.
The entire book is a reassurance for children that our love will be there for them, even if they can’t see us. This book is a beautiful read for all ages but is recommended for children ages 4 and up.
For the Animal Lover
In this book, we follow the story of Wilbur, a runt piglet who was rescued from an untimely death by a little girl. Charlotte, a barn spider, works to ensure the pig remains safe as they become good friends.
This classic is an essential pick for your chapter book reader. It’s recommended for children ages 8 and up or any child who is confident in their reading. However, this is also a good one to read aloud to your younger child as an extended read.
It’s Time to Sleep, My Love
You can’t go wrong with any book that is written or illustrated by Nancy Tillman. This title, in particular, made our list because the language used helps soothe children to a peaceful sleep.
Throughout the story, the whole world around your child is slowly settling down for the night until, eventually, it’s your child’s turn. We recommend this book for toddlers and preschoolers because of its soothing rhyme.
Steam Train, Dream Train
Boarding the Snooze Train
If your child loves anything to do with trains, this title is the one for them. The dream train pulls into the station, and the animals take turns loading up the train with their goods.
This is a big hit with preschoolers because of its use of animals as characters and the rhyming quality of the text. We like this book as a read-aloud option because you can add your own locomotive sound effects as well as other animal sounds.
Best Extended Read
For those of you with older readers, this book is a must-have. Recommended for ages 11 and above, it has several hidden messages your reader will pick up on and appreciate.
This dystopian read follows Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who lives in a world void of color and strong emotion. He’s assigned to be the “Receiver of Memory” where he learns the good and the bad of the world’s past.
This proves to be a challenge for him. The reader is taken on a journey with Jonas as he navigates this newfound responsibility.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales
Fairy Tale Classic
This fairy tale compilation is a favorite of parents and children alike. It contains Hans Christian Andersen’s famous titles, including “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Red Shoes,” “Thumbelina,” and more.
These stories are recommended starting at age 8, but they can make great read-aloud stories until your younger child is ready to read on their own.
It has a beautiful cover design, and the content is chock full of classical tales, perfect for any bookshelf. It also comes with a built-in ribbon bookmark, so your reader will always remember where they left off.
Bedtime Reading by Age
Depending on your child’s age, there are different ways to approach bedtime reading. With younger children, reading out loud together is most beneficial. As your child gets older and more confident, they may become more inclined to read the story to you.
At Mom Loves Best, we understand the significance of bedtime books for kids, and our hands-on approach to evaluating these books ensures you receive the most reliable recommendations. Our professional team conducts thorough research and analysis, using criteria such as age-appropriateness, engaging illustrations, soothing storylines, and positive messages. We compare and rank books based on these factors, providing you with data-driven results. Our reviews draw from first-hand experience, evaluating products from a user’s perspective, and sharing what sets each book apart from its competitors. Our assessment focuses on key decision-making factors, such as a book’s ability to foster bonding, encourage relaxation, and promote sleep, ensuring that our recommendations cater to the unique needs of children and parents alike. Trust Mom Loves Best to help you discover the perfect bedtime story for your little one.