Bedtime Books for Little Readers

Send your little one to sleepytime with these crowd-pleasing children’s books.

By Benjamin Planton

Beyond helping children gain basic literacy skills, reading can be a huge piece of building warm and loving family bonds. From babies to preschoolers, reading together is an important piece of both building connections and establishing routines. Bedtime book time is one of the most important book traditions that we can establish with our. Taking time every single night to read a book helps your child settle their busy brain and relax into a blissful sleepytime.

We conducted an informal survey to find out which books have made a lasting impression on Hoosier families and got some great ideas:

1.    Good Night Moon
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Illustrated by Clement Hurd

This wonderful book about a mother rabbit putting her baby down to sleep was hands down the winner in our informal poll. Everyone loves how the words flow and lilt as everything in the room is told "good night." Good Night Moon is a timeless treasure!

2.    Llama Llama Red Pajama
Written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney

A cute story from the Llama Llama series came is also beloved. Mother Llama puts her baby down to bed but Baby llama still needs her – a dance familiar to anyone who has managed the long haul of toddler bedtimes. The rhyming words and soothing repetition make this one a got-to bedtime book.

3.    Guess How Much I Love You
Written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

Rabbits are popular characters for sleepy children’s’ books – maybe because they are so cute and cozy - and this very sweet book provides a lovely touchpoint at the end of a day. A parent rabbit and fluffy baby telling each other, over and over and over, how much they love one another in increasingly meaningful ways. Many moms and dads like to repeat the sweet messages to their own little ones as they read.

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4.    Good Night Owl
Written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

When a strange noise disturbs Owl's rest, he has to investigate! This newer, beautifully illustrated book is as popular at baby showers as it is at bedtimes. The 2016 book recently won a Geisel Honor Books Award from the American Library Association, making it both family and librarian-approved.

5.    Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train
Both written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Have a little one obsessed with vehicles of all kinds? These books, written in poetic and colorful language, offer the perfect way to wind down for kids who love anything on wheels. Indeed, as these books make clear, sometimes we need to make sure large machinery is properly put to bed as we help our little ones head to dream land.

6.      The Going to Bed Book
Written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton

This book is short and sweet, perfect for babies and young toddlers – and it introduces the math concept of opposites like big and small. The sing-song story follows silly animals as they go through their bedtime routine. From brushing teeth to being rocked to sleep, the calming, rhyming story is perfect for bedtime.

7.      It’s Time to Sleep, My Love
Written by Eric Metaxas and illustrated by Nancy Tillman

From the illustrator of the popular On the Night You Were Born, you can expect the same beautiful illustrations and heartfelt message. This is another lovely selection if your little one love cuddly time or you want to increase your bond, giving your family a great opportunity to relax and share how much you love one another.

8.    Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey
Written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin

This lovely bedtime book comes in both board book and standard story book printings -- and either way, it offers beautiful illustrations of boys, girls and fanciful creatures who carry these diminutive dreamers to fantasy locations. Light on text, but heavy on dreamscapes, each page offers a chance to talk and notice the illustrations together.

We hope you and your little ones enjoy these books and that everyone in your home can get good night’s sleep! (We know how difficult that can be in these early years, but we also hear that it gets easier. We can dream, right?) Have a different beloved bedtime book? Share it below in the comments!

Benjamin Planton is Partnerships for Early Learners’ Infant Toddler Outcome Specialist at Early Learning Indiana, which means that he devotes his workdays to ensuring healthy, positive starts for Indiana’s youngest citizens. With a background in working with early learners, including in infant and toddler classrooms, and a commitment to advancing the field of early childhood education, Ben brings a focus on high-quality, high-impact experiences for children, professionals and families.