7 Great Bedtime Stories for Kids

Bedtime stories are a great addition to your child's bedtime routine. Not only does it expand their world, but it helps them wind down for bed. Here are our top seven bedtime story picks.

Mother reading to kids on couch
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Reading is one of the most important things you can do with your children. It helps expand their vocabularies and imaginations, and build attention spans and listening skills.

Bedtime reading is especially important. As part of a set bedtime routine, reading books before bed can cue your children to know that bedtime is near, and the right calming stories can settle them down and help them transition into sleepiness. Wondering what the right story might be? These bed-themed books are ideal for helping kids of all ages appreciate sleep and the value of a good night’s rest, whether your child likes fairy tales, construction vehicles, animals, or something only they can dream up.

The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea: A Fairy Tale to Help You Fall Asleep by Susan Verde
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The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea: A Fairy Tale to Help You Fall Asleep

By Susan Verde

In the original fairy tale version of “The Princess and the Pea,” our heroine suffered silently through a sleepless night. This clever update features a princess who knows the value of good sleep — “Once upon a time there was a princess who loved to sleep,” it begins — so when a pea gets in her way, she doesn’t just toss and turn, she seeks out better bedding and healthy habits to help her get those Z’s. In addition to being a fun read, the book includes techniques to help kids wind down, and the payoff of great rest is a true happily ever after.

For ages 4-8 years old
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Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
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Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

By Sherri Duskey Rinker

Dealing with a kid who doesn’t exactly dig bedtime? This clever rhyming book shares that even the toughest, mightiest construction vehicles need a good night’s sleep. Over the course of the book, you bid “night-night” to a cement mixer, a dump truck, a bulldozer, a crane truck, and an excavator, who are all exhausted from working with “all their might,” and are excited to get some sleep so they can wake up and take on the next day.

For ages 3-5 years old
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Steam Train, Dream Train
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Steam Train, Dream Train

By Sherri Duskey Rinker

Another lyrical tale from the author of the “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site” series, this book takes children through the various cars of a train of dreams. This includes cars with dinosaurs, race cars, animals, and ice cream.

For ages 1-3 years old
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Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
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Llama Llama Red Pajama

By Anna Dewdney

Dealing with bedtime anxiety? This sweet rhyming story spotlights a little llama with an overactive imagination. Luckily, Mama Llama comes to reassure him with the perfect conclusion, which is one I use with my own toddler: “Little Llama, don't you know Mama Llama loves you so? Mama Llama's always near even if she's not right here.” And with those words, he drifts off to sleep. The book has grown into a full series with a Netflix show, and other titles address other big feelings and fears.

For ages 1-3 years old
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Goodnight Already by Jory John & Benji Davies
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Goodnight Already

By Jory John

A bear and his neighbor, Duck, have opposite ideas of how to spend an evening in this quick, funny bedtime book. As Bear gleefully prepares for a night of great sleep, Duck drops in with new and increasingly hilarious ideas for things he wants to do, resulting in a surprise twist.

For ages 2-6 years old
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If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul
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If Animals Kissed Good Night

By Ann Whitford Paul

This fun, light book imagines how different animals would kiss each other good night the way people do. Scattered through imagined routines of giraffes, wolves, and elephants is one pair of very slow sloths, slowly settling in for the night.

For ages 2-4 years old
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Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
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Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown

No bedtime bookshelf is complete without this simple, lullaby-like classic. First published 75 years ago, in 1947, “Goodnight Moon” takes children through the ritual of bidding goodnight to various critters and items in a great green room. Little children will appreciate the simple lulling of the whispered “hush,” while older children will appreciate seeking out the little mouse hiding on each page.

For ages 0-5 years old
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