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21 Best Bedtime Books for Kids: 2024 Picks

Stories to help your little one settle in for the night.

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 2024

Here are 21 excellent books to read to your kids at bedtime.

If Animals Kissed Goodnight

Crowd Favorite

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.

User Experience

After attending multiple baby showers and gifting this book to expectant mothers, I can confidently say it has become a favorite for both parents and children alike. The charming adaptation of animals and their nightly routines makes for a delightful and captivating read. I find the colors and illustrations to be vibrant and easy on the eyes, making it enjoyable for both adults and little ones. My personal experience reading this book to my son has been nothing short of sweet and silly, leaving us with precious memories to cherish.

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.

Personal Perspective

My experience with this beautifully illustrated bedtime book has been nothing short of magical. The captivating artwork and charming language create a peaceful atmosphere perfect for winding down with my little one before bed. This book's sweet poem and enchanting illustrations have not only engaged my child's imagination but also mine, as we both found ourselves immersed in the whimsical dreamscapes. The sturdy board book version is an excellent choice for durability and independent "reading" by little hands.

Bedtime for Batman

Superhero Kid

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.

Community Feedback

In my experience, this book is an excellent way to introduce alternative writing styles to young children, specifically those who are fans of Batman. After reading it with my child, we found the engaging storyline made our bedtime routine more enjoyable, as it covers aspects such as using the potty, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas. The comic-style of this title is suitable for children aged one and up, adding a unique twist to their reading journey.

Firefly, Light up the Sky

Most Interactive

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.

First-Hand Impression

My experience with this Eric Carle book has been quite enjoyable, even though I usually steer clear of noisy books for bedtime reading. This set comes with a pop-up style book, ideal for preschoolers, and an interactive flashlight that emits bug sounds. As I read, my child eagerly pressed the corresponding buttons on the flashlight, fully engaged in the story. The thrill of shining the flashlight on the firefly in the book and uncovering hidden bugs in the shadows kept even the most active kids entertained during storytime. Reading this book in the dark adds an extra layer of adventure, making it a unique and delightful experience.

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.

User Experience

My first experience with the Harry Potter series started with The Sorcerer's Stone, and I must say, it was a fantastic introduction to the magical world of Hogwarts. The book does an excellent job setting up the overall story, introducing the wonderful cast of characters, and immersing the reader in a captivating universe. I particularly enjoyed the vivid descriptions of places like Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My only complaint would be the Quidditch game, which I found less interesting and a bit confusing.

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.

Personal Perspective

As a parent and a nanny, I can confidently say that this Pigeon book has become a beloved bedtime ritual for both my own child and the kids I care for. The hilarious bedtime antics of Pigeon are not only entertaining, but also relatable, as we often see a bit of our own children in the character. It's heartwarming to witness the little ones memorize parts of the story and "read" along with me, showcasing all the drama and attitude of the Pigeon. This book has quickly become a must-read before bed, and my 3-year-old cherishes the entire collection, reading them again and again. Even when I read it to my granddaughter's kindergarten class, they absolutely adored it.

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.

Community Feedback

I recently bought this classic children's book for a baby shower, and it brought back fond memories. The story of The Runaway Bunny, which centers around a mother rabbit's unconditional love, is relatable and heartwarming. The beautiful illustrations capture the imagination of both children and adults alike. Reading through the book made me think about the importance of providing a safe space for children to explore their independence while knowing there's someone to catch them when they need it.

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.

First-Hand Impression

I recently purchased this beautifully illustrated children's book, which quickly became a favorite in our household. As a parent, I appreciate the timeless message of unconditional love between a parent and child, as well as the engaging dialogue between the two main characters. This hardcover book is not only well-crafted but also features charming and sweet illustrations that captivate both children and adults alike. The story revolves around a playful game between a father hare and his child, ultimately demonstrating the immeasurable love parents have for their children. While the book may not bring tears to my eyes, it is certainly a heartwarming and enjoyable read that I would recommend for any young reader's collection.

Llama Llama Red Pajama

Rhyme Time

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.

User Experience

I'm impressed with this children's book, as it effectively combines engaging rhymes and colorful illustrations to captivate my toddler's attention. The story revolves around a little llama learning patience and feeling secure at night even when parents aren't in the room, providing a valuable lesson for young readers. My child enjoys reciting the lines with me and is always eager for our nightly reading sessions with this book. The hilarious pictures and excellent rhyme scheme make it a timeless and enjoyable read for both parents and children.

Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief

Most Adventurous

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.

Personal Perspective

This book introduced me to the exciting world of Percy Jackson, and I must say, it was a fun and thrilling ride. The story follows Percy as he discovers his true identity as a demigod and embarks on an epic quest to save the world. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is full of unexpected twists and turns that kept me hooked.

Goodnight, Moon

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.

Community Feedback

If you're looking for a timeless children's book that brings a sense of peace and calm, this classic is perfect for you. As I read it to my infant every night, the simple phrases and vibrant illustrations helped us both relax and feel present in the moment. This book has been a cherished part of our family's routine, with the phrase "good night moon" being used to alleviate stress and anxiety even into the teenage years. The durable pages and charming story make it an ideal gift for baby showers or new parents, and it's sure to become a staple in any child's library. Furthermore, the little mouse hidden on each page adds an extra element of fun and engagement for young readers. While there are different editions available, including a miniature board book, the full-sized hardcover version is a beautiful addition to any book collection.

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.

First-Hand Impression

From the moment I picked up this book, I was captivated by its heartwarming message and beautiful illustrations. As a parent, I found it to be an excellent tool for teaching my children about the importance of nurturing their ideas, even when faced with discouragement. The way the little golden idea grows and eventually takes flight is a powerful visual metaphor that resonates with both kids and adults alike.

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!

User Experience

This Dr. Seuss book has been a lifesaver for bedtime with my 3-year-old, who used to take up to 1.5 hours to fall asleep. The first time I read it to him, he was out before I even finished the book! The imaginative rhymes and rolling cadence make it a fun and engaging read for both kids and parents, while also having a surprisingly soporific effect. The illustrations and storyline are classic Dr. Seuss, making it enjoyable for children of all ages. I've even gifted this book to friends with babies, and they've had similar success in using it as part of their bedtime routine. The book is quite long, but it's divided into sections, so you can stop whenever you're ready, making it a versatile addition to our nightly ritual.

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.

Personal Perspective

I recently purchased the first four books of this adventure-packed series for my child, and we've been enjoying the thrilling escapades of the two siblings in their magical treehouse. The stories not only captivate young readers aged 6 to 8 but also impart valuable knowledge about animals, history, and more. One aspect I particularly appreciate is the availability of nonfiction fact tracker companion books, which allow us to delve deeper into each story's subject matter. These books strike the perfect balance between entertainment and education, keeping my child engaged and excited for the next adventure.

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.

Community Feedback

Love this well-made hardcover book filled with bedtime story classics and nursery rhymes! My family and I have enjoyed reading the stories and looking at the colorful pictures together. Although some of the stories and rhymes seemed a bit odd, nothing was inappropriate. This book has held up wonderfully, even with my toddler's rough handling. It's a great collection for keeping kids entertained and engaged during story time.

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You

Spreading Love

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.

First-Hand Impression

I recently read Nancy Tillman's heartwarming book, and I must say, her writing and illustrations truly touched me. This book focuses on the power of a parent's love, providing reassurance to children that our love will always be there, even when we're not physically present. I found it to be a wonderful read for all ages, but it's especially ideal for children ages 4 and up.

Charlotte’s Web

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.

User Experience

Love reading this classic book with my granddaughter! We've been enjoying "The Boxcar Children" and I'm excited to share this childhood favorite of mine with her, especially since my name is Charlotte. The heartwarming friendship between a pig and a spider has always captured my imagination. Although I wish it were a hardback, the book arrived in practically new condition and is perfect for my son's 2nd grade class.

It’s Time to Sleep, My Love

Beautiful Illustrations

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.

Personal Perspective

I'm absolutely smitten with this bedtime story and its mesmerizing illustrations. The soothing rhymes and gentle rhythm make it a perfect choice for winding down after a long day. My little one loves searching for the hidden animals on each page, adding a fun interactive element to our nightly reading routine. While the font size is a bit small, it doesn't detract from the overall enchanting experience this book provides.

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.

Community Feedback

My toddler absolutely adores this book, as it combines their love for trains and animals. The beautiful illustrations and smooth-flowing words make it a perfect bedtime story. However, the book can sometimes spark a lot of questions, which can be time-consuming before bed. Nevertheless, it's an imaginative and engaging read that has become a staple in our bedtime routine.

The Giver

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.

First-Hand Impression

Best book for older readers, especially those aged 11 and above, as it contains hidden messages that they will appreciate. This dystopian novel follows Jonas, a 12-year-old boy living in a world without color and strong emotions. When assigned as the "Receiver of Memory," he learns about the world's past, both good and bad, which challenges him. I was captivated by Jonas' journey as he navigates his new responsibility, providing an engaging reading experience. The story effectively takes readers on a thought-provoking journey, making it a must-have for young readers.

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.

User Experience

I'm absolutely delighted with this fairy tale compilation, as it features Hans Christian Andersen's beloved stories like "The Ugly Duckling," "The Red Shoes," and "Thumbelina." These timeless tales are perfect for kids aged 8 and above, but I also enjoy reading them aloud to my younger ones until they're ready to read independently. The gorgeous cover design and handy built-in ribbon bookmark make this book a charming addition to our family's bookshelf.

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.

Babies and Toddlers

When reading to your baby and toddler, we suggest books that have calming language and rhyme to lull your little one to sleep (1).

Once they’re able, let them start choosing their own bedtime storybook. This will help foster independence, and they’ll feel important this way.


Preschool is a good time to start introducing different styles of writing, like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics. If you want to encourage your child’s literacy skills, shut the lights off and come up with your own tales together.

Be on the lookout for books with relatable characters. Your preschooler will enjoy mimicking them and the character’s bedtime routine.

Elementary & Older

Just because your child is reading on their own now (or is close to it), doesn’t mean you should give up on reading together. It will help them develop their reading skills and allows them to hear stories from different perspectives (2).

For lower elementary, books with easy-to-follow storylines are suitable. As they grow, starter chapter books and series are good to have on hand.

Older kids also can appreciate an author’s craft more. This allows for deeper conversations which, in turn, helps further develop your parent-child bond.


Why is Reading to Kids Before Bed Good?

Reading to kids before bed is beneficial as it helps them unwind, fosters a love for reading, enhances their vocabulary and listening skills, and provides precious bonding time. It also establishes a comforting and consistent bedtime routine.

What Percentage of Parents Read Bedtime Stories?

While percentages can vary, a significant number of parents recognize the importance of reading bedtime stories. However, factors like busy schedules and the increasing presence of digital media might affect regularity.

Should Parents Always Choose the Books Kids Read?

Parents should guide young children in choosing books but also allow them the freedom to explore their interests. As children grow, encouraging them to select their own books helps develop independence and a love for reading.

When Should You Stop Reading to Your Child?

There’s no set age to stop reading to your child. Many continue enjoying it well into their tween years. Even when kids are independent readers, shared reading can still be a cherished activity.

What is a Normal Bedtime For Kids By Age?

A normal bedtime varies by age: Toddlers (1-2 years) might go to bed between 7-9 PM; Preschoolers (3-5 years) around 7-8:30 PM; and older children (6-12 years) might have bedtimes between 7:30-9 PM. Adolescents’ bedtimes often shift later.

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Headshot of Shannon Serpette

Edited by

Shannon Serpette

Shannon Serpette is an award-winning writer and editor, who regularly contributes to various newspapers, magazines, and websites. Shannon has been featured on Insider, Fatherly, SheKnows, and other high profile publications. As a mother of two, she loves to write about parenting issues and is dedicated to educating other parents at every stage of their child's development.