Is storytime a part of your child’s nightly routine? Maybe they even have a favorite they like reading with you. However, there are only so many times a parent can stand to read the same book repeatedly.
As beneficial as it is to reread titles together, having a variety will help your child expand their horizons a bit. Not to mention it will also save your sanity.
But what are the best bedtime books for kids and how do you find them? We’ll give you some tips and our picks for a wide range of ages.
The Best Kids Bedtime Books of 2021
Here are 21 excellent books to read to your kids at bedtime.
1. 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.
2. Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
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.
3. Bedtime for Batman
It’s never too early to introduce alternative writing styles. With this title, you can present comics to your child, suitable for 1-year-olds and up.
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.
4. Firefly, Light up the Sky
I generally like to stay away from noisy books during bedtime reading, but this Eric Carle title is an exception to that rule.
This is a set that includes the 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.
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Picture books are fine and dandy until you realize your child has graduated on 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, not only is he a wizard, but a famous one at that. The series takes the reader along with Harry and his friends as they navigate school and save the mystical world.
6. Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late
This is one of the five pigeon-themed books by this author. Great for bedtime because it gives your child the responsibility of making sure 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.
7. The Runaway Bunny
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’s going to run away, but his mother assures him she will be there, no matter what. We recommend this book for children ages 4 and up.
8. Guess How Much I Love You
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, we learn at the end that his dad loves him more.
This preschool tale is perfect for the nights when daddy is in charge of bedtime. Just like our previous pick, the story attests to the unconditional love a parent has for their child.
9. Llama Llama Red Pajama
This one is full of llama drama as baby llama gets worried every time his mama llama leaves his room at night. When he hollers for her, she comes back 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.
10. 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 children of other Greek gods and goddesses. The series has five books, as well as another spin-off series, so your child will be able to enjoy this world for an extended amount of time.
11. Goodnight, Moon
In the book, we’re taken through the little bunny’s bedtime routine, where he says “goodnight” to all the things in his room.
This one is a classic for any baby or toddler, 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.
12. What Do You Do With An Idea?
Is your young reader quite the inventive force? In this 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.
13. Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book
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, starting at 5 years old.
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, eventually, it reaches your child.
Be careful though, this may just lull you to sleep too!
14. Magic Treehouse Boxed Set
This series follows two siblings as they go on insane 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.
15. 365 Bedtime Stories & Rhymes
If you want variety but don’t want a ton of different books, this one will be a life saver. It comes with enough stories and rhymes to last a long time. 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. Recommended for children ages 4 and up.
16. 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 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.
17. Charlotte’s Web
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, tells the story of the pig and her feelings 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.
18. It’s Time to Sleep, My Love
You can’t go wrong with any book that is written and/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.
19. Steam Train, Dream Train
For any future train conductors, 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 also 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.
20. The Giver
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.
21. Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales
This fairy tale compilation is wonderful. It contains Hans Christian Andersen’s famous titles, including “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Red Shoes,” “Thumbelina,” and more.
These are recommended starting at age 8, but they can make great read-aloud stories until your younger child is ready 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.
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 to, let them start choosing their own bedtime book. 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, non-fiction, poetry, and comics. If you want to encourage their 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.
There are so many great titles to choose from when it comes to bedtime reading. Finding the right ones for your child can become quite a task when you aren’t sure what they would like.
By bearing their interests and reading level in mind, along with the story’s content, you’re sure to pick titles your child will appreciate.
Our favorite is If Animals Kissed Goodnight. We love this title for the way it helps children use their imagination. The whimsical rhyme and soothing illustrations are sure to pique your kid’s interest.
So, we told you our favorite, which one is yours? Do you have a favorite that didn’t make this list? We want to know!