The best books about bedtime

12 authors have picked their favorite books about bedtime and why they recommend each book.

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Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (illustrator),

Book cover of Goodnight Moon

I read this book to my children every night for years. As I read it then snuggled into my arms and began the sometimes difficult process of falling asleep. The story is calming and is a wonderful way to end a busy day. Very young children will understand this beloved book. 


Who am I?

I have an expertise in parenting topics because I work as a prevention advocate for children. I work to keep children safe from; school violence, child abuse, and domestic violence. Additionally I've written children’s books on friendship and race relations for preschoolers. I'm prevention central! Prevention is so much more fun than remiation which I did for 20 years as a middle school counselor. I'm skilled at taking a difficult social topic and breaking it down into language that toddlers and preschoolers can understand. I am ending school violence, child abuse and domestic violence one book at a time. Won’t you join me in making the world a safer place?


I wrote...

The Bad Guys: A Student's/Teacher's Guide to School Safety and Violence Prevention

By Julie K. Federico,

Book cover of The Bad Guys: A Student's/Teacher's Guide to School Safety and Violence Prevention

What is my book about?

The Bad Guys: A Student’s/Teacher’s Guide to School Safety and Violence Prevention is a much needed guide to promote school safety and violence prevention. This book directs students on recognizing potential danger and preparation if such an event occurs. The book offers students a pro-active approach to violence prevention. As a supplement, staff members are supported by a teacher’s guide for educators, and bonus student journal section. Parents and educators will appreciate the simple, nonthreating language that creates a school safety message that every child must hear. This book has the potential to save many lives. The partner book is Students Can Help Keeps Schools Safe for children in 3 to 8th grade.

Tuck Me In!

By Dean Hacohen, Sherry Scharschmidt (illustrator),

Book cover of Tuck Me In!

In this interactive picture book, every other page is cut to look like a blanket. My kids love tucking in each animal by turning the page. This simple, gentle bedtime book also features repeated lines, so kids can join in the reading. “Who else needs to be tucked in?” / “I do!” It’s a wonderful way to get toddlers engaged in the story (but not in a rambunctious way) before settling into bed. 


Who am I?

I am the author-illustrator of funny picture books for kids, including the interactive book, Animals Go Vroom!. As an illustrator, I revel in creating jokes and storylines in the pictures that kids can follow along with by themselves. And as a mother of two small children myself, I know first-hand the magical experience of reading books with toddlers that keep them guessing and giggling along the way.


I wrote...

Animals Go Vroom!

By Abi Cushman,

Book cover of Animals Go Vroom!

What is my book about?

With a nod to Richard Scarry, this interactive picture book surprises readers with every turn of the page!

Hiss! Screech! Roar! It’s a noisy day in Bumperville! But are the sounds what you think they are? That Honk! must surely be a goose. But turn the page and it’s the taxi that a goose is driving! Using cleverly placed die-cuts, this inventive book hints at what is making the sound, but with each turn of the page, it’s an eye-opening surprise and part of an unfolding story that is part guessing game and part giggle-inducing caper.

Moonlight Prance

By Serena Gingold Allen, Teagan White (illustrator),

Book cover of Moonlight Prance

A companion book to Sunrise Dance, this interactive lift-the-flap book will entertain young readers as they read along during a midnight dance in a meadow, and all the animals that come and join the fun. Kids will love making the animals dance along by moving the flaps, plus it’s short enough for when you need that super quick read before a late bedtime.


Who am I?

As a mom of young kids who love animals, I know firsthand the benefit of finding fun books that are also easy to read, fun to look at, and short enough not to make you flinch when your kids pull them off the shelves during those later bedtime nights.


I wrote...

Dream Flights on Arctic Nights

By Brooke Hartman, Evon Zerbetz (illustrator),

Book cover of Dream Flights on Arctic Nights

What is my book about?

At night, just as the moon climbs high, I make a wish that I could fly.

Follow a child’s dreamy flight across the Arctic and discover the animals that live there, from wolves prowling through the snow, to goats and sheep leaping across mountains, to walrus and sea lions lying on icebergs. Told in singsong rhymes and colorfully illustrated with gorgeous linocut art, Dream Flights on Arctic Nights is a beautiful bedtime story for children to explore the Arctic before drifting off to sleep.

Dream Animals

By Emily Winfield Martin,

Book cover of Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey

This gentle rhyming book is the perfect book for your child and their best stuffy friend to read just before they drift off to sleep. The imaginative watercolor pictures will stick with you, and children will love finding how each child’s BFFs find their way into dreamland. Bonus? The book is short enough for a quick bedtime story, but has enough of a story for you to read it over and over without making you feel tired, too!


Who am I?

As a mom of young kids who love animals, I know firsthand the benefit of finding fun books that are also easy to read, fun to look at, and short enough not to make you flinch when your kids pull them off the shelves during those later bedtime nights.


I wrote...

Dream Flights on Arctic Nights

By Brooke Hartman, Evon Zerbetz (illustrator),

Book cover of Dream Flights on Arctic Nights

What is my book about?

At night, just as the moon climbs high, I make a wish that I could fly.

Follow a child’s dreamy flight across the Arctic and discover the animals that live there, from wolves prowling through the snow, to goats and sheep leaping across mountains, to walrus and sea lions lying on icebergs. Told in singsong rhymes and colorfully illustrated with gorgeous linocut art, Dream Flights on Arctic Nights is a beautiful bedtime story for children to explore the Arctic before drifting off to sleep.

You Nest Here with Me

By Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Melissa Sweet (illustrator)

Book cover of You Nest Here with Me

Yolen and Stemple are a mother-daughter dream team duo and creators of many bird books including Yolen’s classic, Owl Moon. This birdy-lullaby has a soothing read-aloud rhythm as a mother tucks her tired nestling-child in bed. She recounts the places where various birds nest, from pigeons on ledges and catbirds in hedges, to owls in oak tree boles and hawks on telephone poles bound by the reassuring refrain, "You nest here with me.” Sweet’s blue-green color palette offers a calming and soporific counterpart and a nod to night-time. Learn more about the featured birds, their diet and nesting habits, and this birding family in the book’s back pages.


Who am I?

I may not be an expert ornithologist, but I am an avid “birdologist” to borrow a term from Sy Montgomery—one who is awed and fascinated by all things bird. Bird-watching is meditative—it helps me to be present and to feel joyful. I love reading, learning, and writing about birds too! I am the author of these bird books: Hawk Rising, illustrated by Brian Floca, Whoo-Ku Haiku, illustrated by Jonathan Voss, and the forthcoming You and the Bowerbird, illustrated by Maris Wicks. I love writing about the natural world and its inhabitants as well as dogs—another love of mine!


I wrote...

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

By Maria Gianferrari, Jonathan Voss (illustrator),

Book cover of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

What is my book about?

In stunning haiku and dazzling illustration, this thrilling nonfiction picture book showcases the fierce majesty of one of North America's most beloved birds, the great horned owl. Watch as a pair of great horned owlets hatch—Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking. A hole, cracking. Cracking. Crack! Pink owlet pecks out.

Mama and Papa Owl hunt for food and fend off predators while the owlets grow strong enough to hop and branch, flap and fledge, ready to explore the wild world around them.

The Going to Bed Book

By Sandra Boynton,

Book cover of The Going to Bed Book

I didn’t think much of rhyming picture books until I became a father. Whether I was savoring the bedtime experience, impatient to get on to the next task or about to fall asleep myself, the rhythm of this (and all of Boynton’s books) pulled me into the moment and made me an engaged reader. And Boynton’s books are as fun to look at as they are to read. 


Who am I?

I write and illustrate picture books. Before I was a father I just thought of the picture book as my chosen art form. When I became a dad, I saw first-hand how important picture books are in the lives of young children and the people who read to them. They become family friends. For the youngest kids, bedtime and nap-time are rituals performed many times a day, which means those books get read over and over. In doing so, I found some favorites that I still enjoy reading today, even if I am reading to myself!   


I wrote...

Wild Honey from the Moon

By Kenneth Kraegel,

Book cover of Wild Honey from the Moon

What is my book about?

On a cold winter's eve, deep in the woods, a mother shrew frets about her sick young son. His head is hot and his feet are cold, and there is only one known cure: wild honey from the moon. Mother Shrew does not stop to wonder how she will make such an impossible journey. Instead, she grabs her umbrella, gives her darling son a final kiss, and sets out.

Along the way, Mother Shrew encounters one obstacle after another, from a malevolent owl to a herd of restless wild horses to an island humming with angry bees. But she is a mother on a mission and she shall not be deterred.

Rudie Nudie

By Emma Quay,

Book cover of Rudie Nudie

Two young children jump out of the bath and run around their home naked until they get dried and dressed in their pyjamas and go off to sleep. We love being ‘nudie nudie’ in our house and the fun rhyming words in this book are regularly recited as we play! We also love the Rudie Nudie Christmas edition that came out in 2020. As someone from the UK living in Australia I love the details in this book that let me know it is set in Australia such as the house having a screen door to keep all those pesky mosquitoes out!

Who am I?

With our 2.5-year-old we read all the time. She is a great critic, letting us know if the book is to be read ‘again’ or to be put ‘away!’ As well as a PhD in Education, I am also a trained teacher, having worked with preschoolers running Steiner Waldorf inspired parent and child groups and playgroups, so I am fascinated by the power of story. I try and choose books that are inclusive and age-appropriate, keeping the child in a magical space, as well as allowing for lots of laughs! I also love to share books that I am happy to read three times in a row!


I wrote...

Searching for the Ideal School Around the World: School Tourism and Performative Autoethnographic-We

By Alys Mendus,

Book cover of Searching for the Ideal School Around the World: School Tourism and Performative Autoethnographic-We

What is my book about?

This book shares the nomadology of Alys-we searching for the Ideal School. Fed up with the System, traditional mainstream education directed by neoliberalism, and high-stakes testing, I travelled to over 180 places of learning/schools in 23 countries that were educating differently. Through performative autoethnographic-we, I share these embodied experiences in poems, vignettes, journaling, and ethnodrama. I realised that the Ideal School is an oxymoron and that schools and schooling, even within innovative education, are not the future for learning.

By sharing stories from the ‘gems’ that currently exist in places of learning/schools, there is the potential and hope for a paradigm shift. Read this book to follow my journey as I share stories and trouble different innovative pedagogies (including Steiner Waldorf, Progressive, Democratic, and Montessori).

Looking for a Jumbie

By Tracey Baptiste, Amber Ren (illustrator),

Book cover of Looking for a Jumbie

When I was a kid I loved looking for monsters. When we drove through the New England woods, I would stare between the trees, convinced I would glimpse a shadowy creature. This book brought back lots of memories. As this book shows, you learn a lot about yourself when you go looking for things that you shouldn’t. 


Who am I?

I’m fascinated with monsters. Always have been. But in a weird way. I was never a scare seeker. I sought out the unique monsters, not the traditional werewolves and vampires. I related to the creatures who were more human than the humans. The ones that struggled to fit in, but if you took the time to get to know them, they were more interesting than anyone you had ever encountered before. And I think that’s a theme I use in my stories. Overcoming your fear of things that are strange or different can open wondrous new worlds.


I wrote...

Monster Chefs

By Brian Anderson,

Book cover of Monster Chefs

What is my book about?

The horribly horrible monster king summoned his four equally horrible chefs. "I am tired of eating only eyeballs and ketchup," roared the king. "Find me something new to eat or you will find yourselves on my menu!" Trembling with fear, they each set off in a different direction to look for something truly scrumptious. But what, besides eyeballs and ketchup, could a monster king possibly want to eat? A rabbit? A fish? A snake? What one finally brings back may change dinnertime in the kingdom forever.

“Little monsters following along at home will also likely clamor to try out their baking skills.” ―BCCB

I Will Fight Monsters for You

By Santi Balmes, Lyona (illustrator),

Book cover of I Will Fight Monsters for You

Books teaching kids not to be afraid of the dark can be cliched and a bit preachy. I stay away from books that “talk” to kids. However, while this book does deal with fear and bravery, it does so in a subtle way and feels genuine. The lessons come from the characters and not the writer. This is a sweet story and you will find yourself rooting for Martina.


Who am I?

I’m fascinated with monsters. Always have been. But in a weird way. I was never a scare seeker. I sought out the unique monsters, not the traditional werewolves and vampires. I related to the creatures who were more human than the humans. The ones that struggled to fit in, but if you took the time to get to know them, they were more interesting than anyone you had ever encountered before. And I think that’s a theme I use in my stories. Overcoming your fear of things that are strange or different can open wondrous new worlds.


I wrote...

Monster Chefs

By Brian Anderson,

Book cover of Monster Chefs

What is my book about?

The horribly horrible monster king summoned his four equally horrible chefs. "I am tired of eating only eyeballs and ketchup," roared the king. "Find me something new to eat or you will find yourselves on my menu!" Trembling with fear, they each set off in a different direction to look for something truly scrumptious. But what, besides eyeballs and ketchup, could a monster king possibly want to eat? A rabbit? A fish? A snake? What one finally brings back may change dinnertime in the kingdom forever.

“Little monsters following along at home will also likely clamor to try out their baking skills.” ―BCCB

Guess How Much I Love You

By Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illustrator),

Book cover of Guess How Much I Love You

This is an absolute classic and has stood the test of time. I still get tears in my eyes after reading this book today, the same as I did reading it over 25 years ago (when it was first published) to my then small daughter. We still refer back to it today. The beautiful soft and delicate watercolour illustrations by Anita Jerum are the perfect match for the text which pulls at your heartstrings every time.

This gorgeous picture book has become a modern classic. The story of Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare trying to express how much they love each other is one that has captivated adults and children the world over. 


Who am I?

As we grow up, the special relationships with family, friends, and caregivers are what give us our sense of place in the world, make us feel loved, teach us the important things in life, and give us the courage to face each step from childhood to adulthood and beyond. Therefore I love books that celebrate these very special people in our lives.


I wrote...

Tiny Blue, I Love You

By Jo Empson,

Book cover of Tiny Blue, I Love You

What is my book about?

This is the story about a curious Little Blue Penguin. His questions about the natural world around him and all its wonders and the unquestionable love between Tiny Blue and his Papa.

Tiny Blue thinks his Papa is very wise and so must know the answers to everything! Perfectly capturing the curious nature of toddlers, Tiny Blue, I Love You is a beautiful exploration of nature and a heart-warming tale of the love between parent and child.

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