Bedtime Books for Toddlers and Young Children 11

a list of bedtime books

One of my favorite times of the day is when Pooky and I snuggle up for our bedtime stories.  I thought I’d share with you some of our favorite reads.

The book images are Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is a wordless picture book about a zookeeper who says goodnight to the animals of the zoo and then heads home to his own bed only to get a goodnight surprise from the animals.

Why I like it: The fact that this is a wordless book makes it easy to talk about the pictures any way we want.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky loves the pages toward the end that are completely black (lights out) except for the wide white eyes of Mrs. Zookeeper. This unexpected lack of color is a surprise she highly anticipates.  She loves this “lights out” part of the book, and returns to it over and over with giggles.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a celebrated classic of over 60 years.

Why I like it: This is a favorite from my own childhood.  I have always been struck by Clement Hurd’s beautiful pictures.This is a well thought out book.  It seems like every time I read it, I notice some new clever detail in the pictures. I also enjoy the soothing rhymes throughout the story.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky likes to just stare at the pictures and take in all the details.  She also likes to point out the items that are named in the story.  She also relates the moon and stars that you see through the little bunny’s window to the moon and stars shining outside our own windows.

Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin is a lovely, recently published, journey through dreamland.

Why I like it:  The author seems to have created dreams in print! Her vintage style pictures are lovely imaginative scenes including everything from an underwater tea party with mermaids to a little boy becoming a ringmaster of the circus.  I think this is a book that will grow with us.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky loves to take in the details of each new scene.  She seems amazed at how different one scene is from the next.  I think the dark tones and soothing scenes have a calming effect on her.

Goodnight Sleep Tight: What a Wonderful Flight by Louise Lintvelt is a story about a variety of aircraft tucking in for the night.

Why I like it: The rhyming words and repetitive phrase, “Hush…goodnight, sleep tight” make this book a pleasure to read.  The carefully chosen colors of Do Thai Thanh’s illustrations clearly distinguish between day and night in the story.  I really like how the author makes the sleeping aircraft relatable to young children by including things like teddy bears, blankets, and night lights signifying bedtime.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky is currently fascinated with airplanes and helicopters so she LOVES to cuddle up with this book at bedtime.  She likes seeing the airplanes close their eyes and “go night-night” so much that she wants the book read to her multiple times each night.

Llama Llama, Nighty-Night by Anna Dewdney is an adorable bedtime story from the Llama Llama book series.

Why I like it: I immediately fell in love with Llama Llama and his Mama through the simple sing-song rhymes of this book.  We have several of the Llama Llama books and will continue to grow with this series.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky can relate to Llama Llama’s bedtime routine.  She likes describing what he’s doing (taking a bath, brushing his teeth) in her own words.

Kiss, Kiss Good Night by Kenn Nesbitt and Rebecca Elliott shows mommy animals saying “Good night” to their babies.

Why I like it: Who doesn’t love seeing mommy animals cuddled up with their babies?  While the pictures are illustrations, they still warm the heart especially with their saturated colors.

Why Pooky likes it: Pooky likes to name the different animals on each page and point out that they are “night-night” when she sees the pictures of their eyes closed.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Sight by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld is a New York Times Bestseller picture book showing how even big tough construction trucks need their rest.

Why I like it: I like how the authors name and describe each different kind of truck and its role.  (I learned a lot.) The book shows each truck hard at work during the day and then sleeping soundly at night while pointing out that even the toughest ones need their rest to be ready for another busy day ahead.

Why Pooky likes it: Even though people may typically think this is a book for boys, Pooky thoroughly enjoys it. She likes talking about the different trucks and what they’re doing during the daytime.  She also likes to point out that they’re going “night-night” in the darker moon-lit pictures.

The books mentioned above are great bedtime stories for young children of a variety of ages.  See below for more  bedtime picture books. If your child has a favorite bedtime story not listed here, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


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