Books for bedtime! Here’s our selection of great books to read to children at bedtime, with a selection of stories and poems by Jill Murphy, Allan Ahlberg, Maurice Sendak, Michael Rosen, Martin Waddell, Fiona Watt, Claire Freedman, and more.
Bedtime story books for children aged 0-11 – our recommendations
Books for bedtime – children aged 0-3
Monkey Bedtime by Alex English
With rhyming couplets, onomatopoeic verbs and an outrageous storyline, we follow a little boy’s bedtime routine as it degenerates into monkey business. Bedtime is sidetracked by real baboons, howler monkeys, capuchins, a shrieking mandrill and more! The lipstick-toting gibbon is definitely a highlight and the next time you run out of toothpaste, just blame the marmoset. A cracking bedtime story that children will want to read again and again.
Group Hug by Jean Reidy and Joey Chou
Told in catchy rhyming verse, a charming friendly slug cheers everyone up by giving them a hug. Including a lonely beetle, a grumpy mouse, an out-of-sorts skunk, a smelly squirrel and a beaver with work-life balance issues, the slug manages to spread joy and warmth through group hugs. The bright vibrant illustrations will be useful to discuss in circle time with children in nursery and EYFS classrooms. It will also make for a soothing bedtime story for the under 4s.
Ten Little Dogs by Ruth Brown
A fun counting story about an ever-decreasing number of dogs. With detailed illustrations that will prompt preschool children to ask questions and predict what will happen next, the 10 dogs are reduced to just one as each one is distracted or embroiled in an adventure. There’s a satisfying and happy ending which makes this book a good bedtime read.
Books for bedtime – children aged 3-5
Where Will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep? by David Metzenthen and Jonathan Bentley
With memorable droopy eyelids, sleep-deprived, sheepy illustrations and fun wordplay, ‘Where Will the Sleepy Sheep Sleep’ follows a particularly sleepy sheep searching for the perfect spot to fall asleep. There are plenty of tongue-twisting rhymes, alliteration and onomatopoeia, and this picture book bedtime story is a joy to read aloud. With plenty of repetition and opportunities for inference and prediction, it’s also a good choice for nursery classes. Highly recommended for toddlers upwards.
Stanley and Rhoda by Rosemary Wells
A classic picture book with three stories that explore getting along with siblings and friends sensitively and funnily. ‘Don’t touch it, don’t look at it’ with Dr Zuckerman is timeless. A great bedtime story.
Whisper on the Wind by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
This atmospheric and moving large-format picture book blends evocative verse with spellbinding illustrations to enchant younger children. When the whisper from Ren’s dream is plucked by the wind and carried through waves, moonlight and oceans, it eventually reaches a distant sailor in this story with powerful themes of separation and reunion, family and love. A wonderful and inspiring book to read and share with KS1 classes.
Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep by Catherine Rayner
Try as he might, Arlo cannot get to sleep. There’s always something stopping him – it’s either too hot, too cold, too noisy or just too hard. Then an enchanting owl speaking in rhyme shows him how. A beautiful book to share at bedtime. Destined to become a modern classic.
This Book is Not a Bedtime Story by Eoin McLaughlin and Robert Starling
This Book is Not a Bedtime Story by Eoin McLaughlin and Robert Starling. An anarchic romp of a bedtime book with bold and vibrant pictures and narrated by a self-styled ‘World’s Scariest Monster’, who is anything but. A good book for untangling nighttime fears, this story will also appeal to children who are resistant to bedtime routines.
Veg Patch Party by Clare Foges and Al Murphy
From the author of Bathroom Boogie and Kitchen Disco, Veg Patch Party follows the lives of peas, carrots, potatoes, leeks, and cauliflowers as they break out of the earth when no one is looking to set up Veg Stock – a colourful music festival featuring ‘The Chips’, ‘The Pumpkins’ and ‘The Red Hot Chillis’ and ‘DJ Brussel Sprout’. The artwork is almost as loud as the music, partying and thunder & lightning storyline. This will definitely appeal to festival-loving parents, and children under five will love the anarchic rhyming storyline.
Honey for You Honey for Me: A First Book of Nursery Rhymes by Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell
A wonderful collection of catchy nursery rhymes to read and share with younger children. On every page, there are sounds to explore, clever typography and use of colour, vibrant illustrations to examine, and fun language that children will remember, mimic and use to develop their own wordplay. Highly recommended.
The Night the Reindeer Saved Christmas by Raj Kaur Khaira
Reindeer Saved Christmas by Raj Kaur Khaira is a lively and funny Christmas adventure with a diverse range of characters. When Santa’s sleigh suffers rocket failure, Mrs Claus has a clever idea, and soon enough all the creatures of the North Pole lend a hand to help. With expressive and detailed illustrations, this is a lovely Christmas bedtime story to share with children under 5.
Books for bedtime – children aged 5+
The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories by Sarah McIntyre
This diverse collection of new stories from cultures around the world features contributions from a stellar cast of contemporary authors including Aisha Bushby, Kieran Larwood, Emma Carroll, Lou Kuenzler and Natasha Farrant. Each tale promotes a sense of warmth, wisdom and positivity. A substantial hardback, The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories is beautifully presented with colourful illustrations to share and discuss. It’s the perfect gift for 6-8-year-olds and their parents.
While You’re Sleeping by Mick Jackson and John Broadley
While You’re Sleeping by Mick Jackson and John Broadley. A mesmerizing illustrated hardback story that will sweep your child into a nocturnal world – exploring the lives of people who work through the night. With a combination of black and white woodcut style designs and highly engaging comic-book illustrations, this is a great book to read to 5-9-year-olds.
5 Minute Really True Stories for Bedtime by Britannica Books
A cracking collection of true stories to read to your child at bedtime. There are 30 fascinating highly illustrated pieces that are ideal to share or read to children who prefer facts to fiction. These include: ‘Remarkable hibernators’, ‘Fly me to the moon’, ‘Lullabies around the world’, ‘King Tut’s beds’, and ‘The great sleep escape’. Highly recommended.
Fearless Fairy Tales by Konnie Huq and James Kay
These are bedtime stories for independent-minded children! 17 well-known tales have been re-imagined and loosely intertwined for the 2020s, including Trumplestiltskin, a farting president who lives in a house full of mirrors, Rap-Unzel – a long-haired talent show star with rhymes, and Jack and the baked-beanstalk. This book is great fun and a perfect bedtime read to share with 7-11-year-olds.
To order all the books in this list, or to bulk order class sets of books, click here.
How about a celebrity reading a bedtime story to your child? CBeebies has a collection of free bedtime story videos here.