Looking for good bedtime stories for kids? I’m a huge advocate of reading bedtime stories to kids.
Today, I want to share the best stories for kids that are actually ABOUT bedtime and sleeping!!
Of course, you can read any children’s stories for bedtime stories. But why not help your kids settle down and think sleepy thoughts with a picture book or short story about bedtime?
As parents know, bedtime can be tricky for many kids. From fears to restlessness to I’d-rather-be-playing, it’s not always a smooth transition to sleep.
Would these (meta) bedtime stories and picture books be perfect for your nighttime read aloud snuggle time? Maybe these bedtime stories will help your energetic children get sleepy and ready for dream time.
Put on your pajamas and get ready for a meta bedtime story experience.
And if you want an extra way to stay on track, grab a bedtime routine chart.
But I’ll say it again, almost any book at bedtime makes for a good bedtime story. Reading anything to your kids out loud on a daily basis is what matters most!
Bedtime Stories for Kids
Bedtime Stories for Toddlers Ages 2 – 4
The Napping House by Audrey Wood and Don Wood
The Napping House is a gentle, rhythmic bedtime story for kids about the inhabitants of a sleepy house slowly falling into slumber– and then waking back up again.
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
As each vehicle at the construction site finishes its job for the day, there is one last thing to do, and then they’ll say goodnight. Gentle rhymes and soft-colored pictures of favorite trucks are the perfect way to lull any child into sweet dreams.
Go Sleep In Your Own Bed! by Candace Fleming and Lori Nichols
Kids love this funny children’s story about the animals going to bed and finding another animal sleeping in their bed.
B is For Bananas by Carrie Tillotson, illustrated by Estrela Lourenco
If you like silly stories that make you giggle, you’ll love this alphabet book about Banana who does not want to go to sleep! He interrupts the narrator and shows his creativity and energy! Like he doesn’t need a bath– he wants to jump and be wild. Will Banana ever zonk out?
Forty Winks: A Bedtime Adventure by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Lita Judge
This mouse big family’s bedtime routine feels familiar. They get ready with rituals of reading books, whispering prayers, tucking in tight, goofing around, and procrastinating until it’s read-aloud story time!
The Night Tent by Landis Blair
With a nod to Maurice Sendeck’s Where the Wild Things Are, this beautifully illustrated bedtime story about Watson, a boy who worries about monsters in the closet. When he sees a light under his covers, he discovers a beautiful night sky with twinkling stars…UNDER HIS COVERS! He wanders down a path and through the forest. He plays with the forest creatures and rides a trolley to a tall tower which he climbs. When he crawls back out from under the covers, he’s so sleepy that he falls fast asleep without any worries about monsters. Enchanting and atmospheric!
Goodnight, Butterfly by Ross Burach
Butterfly has SO MANY questions…which annoy his new porcupine friend. What can Porcupine do to help Butterfly go to sleep? It’s a delightful read aloud for bedtime or anytime!
Good Night, Baddies by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Juli Kangas
The famous fairy tale baddies head for home at the end of the day, just like the heroes do. They eat dinner together. The troll takes a bath, the evil queen puts away the poisoned apple, and they all snuggle into bed. Good night! Sour dreams! This is one of our favorite bedtime stories for kids!
Fish and Crab by Marianna Coppo
Hilarious! It’s bedtime for friends Fish and Crab. But Fish worries so much that he can’t sleep. He shares his worries with his supportive friend Crab; worries about Owls, alien abduction, raining frogs, black holes, and more! Crab listens to Fish and soon Fish feels better, but Crab doesn’t. Now Crab can’t sleep!
Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Lucy yawns while her mother reads her a bedtime story and soon drifts off to sleep. Later, she wakes up in the dark, realizing that she doesn’t have her special stuffed bear, Molasses. Back to bed with Molasses, help her count yawns. Isn’t this one of the best bedtime stories for kids?
Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy, illustrated by Shawn Harris
The entire family is awake at night doing all sorts of activities. Rollicking text plus neon-bright action-packed illustrations capture the exuberance and activity of this busy night.
Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Say Good Night by Lauren H. Kerstein, illustrated by Nate Wragg
Charlie helps get his dragon Rosie ready for bed. But it’s not easy. Because Rosie doesn’t want to go to bed yet and can’t find her favorite stuffed animal. Luckily, Charlie is prepared for the many challenges and solves all the dragon’s issues so they can get to sleep.
Pillowland by Laurie Berkner, illustrated by Camille Garoche
Sail in your blanket boat, meet the king and queen, and have a pillow fight. Pillowland is a good story to read aloud to children when they’re tucked in tight, ready for bed.
Go-Go Guys by Rowboat Watkins
Silliness abounds with these Go-Go Guys who are always moving. Instead of going to bed, they zoom to the moon where they frolic and play. Until…the moon says STOP and orders them back to bed. Fast-paced fun!
Help Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson, illustrated by Courtney Dawson
When Shelly’s dad gets a new job, he’s too sleepy to read bedtime books without falling asleep. So Shelly puts up a Help Wanted sign to recruit a new bedtime reader. Soon fairy tale characters arrive for interviews –with hilariously disastrous results.
Bedtime for Batman by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Ethen Beavers
As the stars come out and shadows lengthen, the hero gets a signal. Batman prepares the Batmobile. Our hero gets ready for bed just like Batman deals with the town’s villains.
Naptime with Theo and Bea by Jessica Shyba
You’ll ooh and aah at these darling photographs of Beau and his puppy named Theo (a rescue puppy), who hops up on the bed after Beau falls asleep for nap time. Gorgeous photos and sweet cuddles.
Little Bear Dreams by Paul Schmid
What do polar bears dream about? Short phrases with graphic art deliver a cozy bedtime atmosphere in a sweet story. Did you know that polar bears dream about hot chocolate, cold pizza… short tails, and tall hats?
It’s So Quiet: A Not-Quite-Going-to-Bed Book by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Mouse can’t go to sleep because it’s too QUIET. His mom helps him listen to the many sounds of the night. But when Mouse opens his window, it’s very loud…too loud! Eventually, it gets quiet and Mouse falls asleep.
Sleepy Sheep by Lucy Ruth Cummins, illustrated by Pete Oswald
Relatable and cute, Sleepy Sheep isn’t sleepy AT ALL and wants to knit and build blocks and play cowboy and — YAWN? His hopeful parents walk him back to bed; he dashes for the kitchen only to realize he actually is a bit sleepy and goes to bed.
Best Bedtime Stories for Kids Ages 4 – 8
Sleepy the Goodnight Buddy by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Scott Campbell
Roderick is an impressive sleep staller. But his stuffed animal Sleepy is even more of an expert in sleep stalling! In a hilarious role reversal, Roderick does all the things that Roderick’s parents used to do for him…until Roderick is exasperated with Sleepy and falls asleep.
The Tossy-Turny Princess and the Pesky Pea: A Fairy Tale to Help You Fall Asleep by Susan Verde, illustrated by Jay Fleck
This princess loves sleeping. But one day, a pea slips under her mattress and it ruins her sleep! She gets advice from many people to help her sleep. That night, the princess implements the advice and soon, she falls fast asleep.
Can You Yawn Like a Fawn! by Monica Sweeney with Lauren Yelvington, illustrated by Laura Watkins
Help your child to get sleepy by sharing the nighttime rituals of baby animals and asking if they can yawn, too. It’s so perfect for bedtime, I’m already sleepy myself.
Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep by Catherine Rayner
If you’re going to read bedtime stories for kids and your child isn’t sleepy, pick this one up first! You’ll learn visualization exercises that Owl shares with his grumpy lion friend at bedtime.
Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy by Kate Messner, illustrated by Valentina Toro
Sloth’s mom helps him with strategies to sleep and release his worries. They listen to the trees, close their eyes, breath in and out. Sloth eventually falls into a peaceful sleep.
Ella’s Night Lights by Lucy Fleming
Ella brings bright night light to help others not be afraid. She befriends a fox and an owl and they play together but she always has to return home during the day to protect her wings. Then, her friends make her a den of darkness where she can see out and watch the sunrise.
Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Oge Mora
In this building, noisy kids and cats and parrots wake each other up–then slowly, everyone falls back asleep. The noises give us a lovely atmospheric feel, and we get a strong sense of relationships and community.
Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
Owl tears up his house to find the “noise” preventing his sleep which we soon see is a cute little squeaky mouse. Soon the roof is off, the walls are down, and Owl’s lying in wait to get that noise…One of the most hilarious bedtime stories for kids.
Noisy Night by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Brian Biggs
From the bottom floor to the top, the residents of this apartment building are making lots of noise! Find out who lives at the top and how he makes everyone BE QUIET so they all can sleep.
Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat
Nicholas is afraid of the dark and other things, but his toy dinosaur makes him feel as brave as his dad, even fearless. But his beloved toy gets lost and his fear returns. His dad saves the night and helps Nick find his dinosaur!
Duck, Duck, Dinosaur and the Noise at Night by Kallie George, illustrated by Oriol Vidal
On their first night on their own without their mama, Feather, Flap, and Spike are woken by a frightening noise. The noise keeps returning and they just can’t sleep. Finally, they realize it’s Spike’s snoring!
Stop that Yawn! by Caron Levis, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Gabby and Granny are on a quest to stay up late — but they do NOT yawn!! They have an exuberant adventure through the city streets. But we all know that yawns are catching, and eventually, the yawn makes everyone sleepy, even Gabby.
I’ll Meet You in Your Dreams by Jessica Young, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
A reassuring, loving bedtime reminder to a child showing that the mother will be with the child no matter what…“...you’ll be an eagle and I’ll be a hawk. When soft winds sing and treetops rock, we’ll spread our wings and soar until we reach the shore.”
Dreamland by Noah Klocek
Luminous illustrations depict a little girl on a bedtime journey to find her dreams and restful sleep. “Marching, dancing, and traveling, Amelie finally finds herself in her favorite dreams.“