The best bedtime books for kids

For me as father having two children under the age of 5, they demand books after books at bedtime. I frequently make trips to the library to pick up new ones and can proudly say that I have read them hundreds of books. What’s their favourite? Here they are.

1. The Gruffalo

The gruffalo book

The Gruffalo is a favourite in our house, it's easy to read and doesn’t end too quick that your children will be wanting another book. It has a sense of fear yet ends in a good way, your children will learn to finish your sentence as they get older because the rhymes are fun and easy to remember. This book has great describing words such as ’terrible tusks’, ‘Purple prickles’.. describing words that are great for your children’s imagination and I don’t know one child who doesn’t like this story.

2. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Another great book with a variety of places and scenes to go through, the book gets children involved and will even help create adventure were ever you may go. The incredible wording creates explorers with their imagination, walking through a ‘deep cold river’ brings the child to feel cold while reading the book. Towards the end of the book.

The group of children and their father find the big scary bear and run all the way home through the ‘deep dark forest’ and so on. Up until they arrive home safe from the big bad bear. When taking your children out, encourage walking through fields of grass, etc. and show them encouragement by saying “we’re going on a bear hunt”.

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I myself love this book. It’s colourful, the pictures are not complex as they are simple drawings that catch your eye. The story is short and sweet so if you need to do story time quick one night. Be prepared with a few healthy bedtime snacks to make the book even more fun because after all if the caterpillar is very hungry it is going to make your little ones peckish too.

The book explains the life of a caterpillar in short, how it makes a cocoon and wraps itself up before becoming a ‘beautiful butterfly’. This book will also encourage your child to be creative making their own beautiful drawings as an activity.

4. The Boy who Cried Wolf

 The Boy who Cried Wolf

The boy who cried wolf is a classic. It creates a little fear in children to encourage telling the truth and nothing but the truth. This is because lying to people can get you in dangerous situations. It has a sense of adventure but makes children realise that fooling people all the time is not a good thing. When the boy gets in a dangerous situation he shouts ‘help, Wolf, Wolf’ but the villagers don’t want to help. As they believe he is just pranking again.

5. A Quiet Night In

a quiet night in

My children have taken a liking to this book. Mainly because it was new to their collection and it created humour at bedtime! This book is about a mum and dad elephant who has baby elephant children. All they want is a quiet night in for daddy’s birthday.

The children want to stay up and make a mess. But mummy elephant wants to tidy and make tea for Daddy elephant before he returns home. Long story short daddy elephant doesn’t want to leave the sofa as he is too tired. The children demand a book before bed, whilst daddy reads the book mummy gets the food ready. When she gets back she finds daddy asleep from his hard day at work. Mummy continues the story for the children and falls asleep herself. The children make their own way up to bed with the food mummy made for daddy.

6. Ten Little Dinosaurs

 Ten little dinosaurs

This book is a great read, it features ten baby dinosaurs and their mummy. It is written in a rhyme-way that make it easy to sing along with together. It counts down from all ten dinosaurs. One goes missing at a time in a different way and in the end, the mummy dinosaur has to round up all of her babies. I guarantee your children will like this book, my children have memorised most of the words! It will teach your children and you all of the names of the dinosaurs.

7. The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The Tiger Who Came to Tea

The friendly tiger knocks on Sophie and her mum’s door. Maybe they were too kind to him and didn’t expect that he would eat all of their food in the cupboards. As well as the fridge and didn’t think that he would drink all of the water from the tap. This is a book that I have to read to my children, again and again, they love it so much. It’s a great kids’ book that is exciting. After each page, you will want to find out what is going to happen next.

These last few books are all-time classics. They are old and you may have already read them yourself as a child. Even though they are old, they are still awesome stories that will be around forever. New variations are available to help refine the stories to make them even better.

8. The Three Little Pigs

 The three little pigs

This is the tale of the three pigs who build their own homes, to avoid being eaten by the wolf. This is one of the most engaging books of all time. It’s famous for its ‘if you don’t let me in, I’ll huff, and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down! With three different houses all made from various materials. Which ones can the wolf break down and which ones will still remain? This is the cliffhanger of all of the books.

9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Goldilocks and the Three Bears 

Mummy bear, daddy bear, and baby bear are all about to eat porridge but they are too hot. They think it would be a good idea to open the window and then go out for a walk in the woods whilst it cools down. They didn’t know that a little girl called Goldilocks would be sneaking around their home. Planning to eat their porridge.

10. Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Little red riding hood's granny is sick and she decides that she would like to bring her some fresh buns to help make her feel better. Setting off into the woods and, is then approached by a mischievous wolf. (Why is it always a wolf?)

He asks what she is doing and where she is going. She tells him “I’m going to take my granny some buns because she is not very well”. She continues her journey and when she gets to granny’s home. It seems as though the wolf is dressed up as granny. Does she realise it’s the wolf? What will happen next?

11. Dear Zoo

Dear Zoo

his is a great story that even the youngest most inexperienced storyteller will learn quickly. This is because of its simplicity and its repetition that helps children remember the story. “I write to the zoo asking for a pet, and they sent me a frog. But he was too jumpy, so I sent him back.” and so on the tale goes. How many times did it take before the zoo got it right?

It’s a good book for development as well, especially considering how it features lots of different animals, which will not only teach them the names of each animal but also what they look and sound like.

Not to mention that on each page. You will need to lift the flap to find out what animal it is that you have been sent from the zoo. For children. They can find this exciting and will enjoy the suspense of lifting the flaps. Just as much as the story. This book was written by Rod Campbell, who is a Scottish writer and illustrator of several popular children’s books, although this is the one that he is the most known for.

Board books are the best types of book for kids because they are a lot stronger than a paperback. For young children, they can be a bit careless when it comes to looking after their possessions. The pages of a paperback can easily bend and can quickly get ruined. On the other hand, a board book has a much better chance. Even as an adult I can proudly say that this is one on my favourite kids books of all time! The story has many humorous moments, and it is a real page turner. All the way through, you will be curious about what animal the zoo will send next, and what will be wrong with it. It is one of those books that seem as though it was written for children with a child's broad imagination in mind.

12. The girl, the bear and the magic shoes

 The girl, the bear and the magic shoes

Written by Julia donaldson and lydia monks. This Ladybird book, authored by the same writer that brought you the gruffalo. The story starts with a little girl called Josephine who goes to a shoe shop and purchases some magic shoes. She goes on an adventure with a bear chasing her. Kids love to read this book and are excited by what the magic shoes can do. 

13. Take ted instead

 Take ted instead

Take ted instead is about a boy who is told that its time for bed sleepy head. But he always replies with "No, take (someone else) instead." This rhyming book is great for children as it teaches simple rhymes combined with a relaxing humour that will help unwind after a long day. It is the perfect book for bedtime and showcases how children will do anything to stay up for a little bit longer.

14. The gingerbread man

the gingerbread man

First readers follows the national literacy strategy - A lady was cooking a gingerbread man and when he was ready to eat he ran away singing the famous tale "run run as fast as you can, you can't catch me i'm the gingerbread man". Everyone he meets chase him but is anyone fast enough to gobble him up? 

15. Cinderella


Every young princess loves the story of Cinderella and the classic disney tale is well known for the ugly stepsister and the glass slipper that was left behind at the ball. If your children don't know this story, then they are in for a treat. There are many ups and downs but most of all a happily ever after. Everyone loves a good ending.

16. The cave

The cave paperback 

The cave is about a 'small creature' that is living in a cave. It never comes out because of a pesky wolf, and the wolf will not stop until he convinces the small create to come out. This book is exciting and is a real page turner.  

Reading a book before bed is a great way to introduce a bedtime routine. Overall there are many things that you can do to get your child into a routine and help your child sleep better.


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