The best bedtime story books

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

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Bedtime Daddy!

By Sharon Giltrow, Katrin Dreiling (illustrator),

Book cover of Bedtime Daddy!

Bedtime, Daddy! is a role reversal book where baby bear puts daddy bear to bed. This book had me giggling the whole way through because I was there for it all. Daddy needing to use the bathroom one last time. Needing a drink of water. Asking ALL the silly questions. Kids and parents alike can relate. But what shines through is the love between daddy and kid. Just adorable all around!


Who am I?

As a picture book author and mom, I am constantly inspired by the world around me. I love watching my children, and I love how they adore their dad and he adores them in return. So many of my stories have been inspired by their interactions. While I am no expert on fatherhood, I have been fortunate to have had a loving dad who played “Monster in the Middle,” who took us for rides on his motorcycle, and reminded us that we could accomplish anything we put our mind to. I love books that remind us of the power of a loving father-child relationship and hope you, too, will be lifted by these joyful stories.


I wrote...

Help Wanted, Must Love Books

By Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson (illustrator),

Book cover of Help Wanted, Must Love Books

What is my book about?

Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team.

Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye

By Claude Ponti, Alyson Waters (translator),

Book cover of Blaze and the Castle Cake for Bertha Daye

Claude Ponti is now in charge of the answers to the children's questions in Philosophie Magazine. Maybe less diffused in the Anglophone world than Ungerer, he’s clearly a great artiste, one of the biggest, with an extravagant and surrealistic imagination, and this album, in particular, is a masterpiece.


Who am I?

I’m the happy father of five children, born between 2000 and 2017. So in my adult years, I have quite constantly lived in the company of young children, and I’ve started inventing stories for them. I have now six albums published in France, all of which were originally imagined for my kids just before we switch off the light for sleeping. Born in 1975, I live in Paris, I’m the chief editor of Philosophie magazine (a monthly publication with 50 000 readers), and I’ve published twenty novels and essays alas not available in English. I’m the president and co-founder of a creative writing school located in Paris, Les Mots.


I wrote...

Dragons in Love

By Alexandre Lacroix, Ronan Badel (illustrator),

Book cover of Dragons in Love

What is my book about?

Strokkur is a little dragon, living alone with his daddy. Then, he’s got a problem: when a charming little girl grants him a kiss on his cheek, he feels his fire burning inside… He’s terrified, a dragon shouldn’t be in love, otherwise, he may hurt the one he loves with his flames… Like in his previous adventure, Dragons. Father and Son, also illustrated by Ronan Badel, Strokkur we’ll have to solve a moral dilemma.

A House in the Woods

By Inga Moore,

Book cover of A House in the Woods

There are multiple possible interpretations for this very well illustrated story: it’s above moving from one habitation to another, but also on, a more symbolic level, about reconstituted families. At least, this is the sense it has for the adult because for children it’s much simpler, we see here sympathetic animals building a house in the forest.


Who am I?

I’m the happy father of five children, born between 2000 and 2017. So in my adult years, I have quite constantly lived in the company of young children, and I’ve started inventing stories for them. I have now six albums published in France, all of which were originally imagined for my kids just before we switch off the light for sleeping. Born in 1975, I live in Paris, I’m the chief editor of Philosophie magazine (a monthly publication with 50 000 readers), and I’ve published twenty novels and essays alas not available in English. I’m the president and co-founder of a creative writing school located in Paris, Les Mots.


I wrote...

Dragons in Love

By Alexandre Lacroix, Ronan Badel (illustrator),

Book cover of Dragons in Love

What is my book about?

Strokkur is a little dragon, living alone with his daddy. Then, he’s got a problem: when a charming little girl grants him a kiss on his cheek, he feels his fire burning inside… He’s terrified, a dragon shouldn’t be in love, otherwise, he may hurt the one he loves with his flames… Like in his previous adventure, Dragons. Father and Son, also illustrated by Ronan Badel, Strokkur we’ll have to solve a moral dilemma.

Where are you Lydie?

By Emma Poore,

Book cover of Where are you Lydie?

This is a book by one of my students, and it’s the reason I first began to notice that bereavement was an important subject for children – who might experience the death of pets, grandparents, parents, or even siblings – but one in which publishers see little commercial potential. Obviously, publishers are reluctant to print a bedtime story that ends on a downbeat note, but a children’s book can often be the best way to introduce a difficult subject or concept that starts a conversation.


Who am I?

I’ve illustrated and written over 50 children’s picture books and now teach the subject of writing and illustration for all stages up to University level. I’m particularly interested when a student presents a challenging theme a publisher might balk at on commercial grounds: we have plenty of books about pirates, fairies, dinosaurs, and monsters under the bed, but relatively few on the important lessons that life can throw at a child. Race, abuse, depression, or disability (with which I have personal experience) are subjects rarely seen in book stores and can be difficult starting points for a successful children’s book. But the restrictions themselves can often be the source of great creativity.    


I wrote...

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma's Wardrobe

By Diane Fox, Christyan Fox,

Book cover of The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma's Wardrobe

What is my book about?

If you think you know the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, think again! Cat is trying to read the much-loved classic children’s fairy tale to Dog – parents will sympathise with Cat as she suffers question after question from inquisitive Dog. Minimal words and pictures combine to create a powerfully funny book, with two new delightful, engaging, and appealing characters in a perfect debut. The humour is very funny throughout… the simplicity of the drawings, the meta-fiction element, and laugh-aloud dialogue will delight six-year-olds and upwards.

This book was chosen by Julia Eccleshare as one of “the best of 2014” in The Guardian in December 2014.

Fog Island

By Tomi Ungerer,

Book cover of Fog Island

I was a friend of Tomi Ungerer since he used to answer metaphysical or philosophical questions asked by children in Philosophie Magazine, each month, in a special chronicle. Fog Island is less famous than Otto or the Three Robbers, but it’s an ode to Ireland where he used to live. The magic island in his story actually exists: Tomi Ungerer has drawn the rocky “Evil’s Tooth” that was planted in the ocean, just in front of his house. A beautiful tale with a realistic background.


Who am I?

I’m the happy father of five children, born between 2000 and 2017. So in my adult years, I have quite constantly lived in the company of young children, and I’ve started inventing stories for them. I have now six albums published in France, all of which were originally imagined for my kids just before we switch off the light for sleeping. Born in 1975, I live in Paris, I’m the chief editor of Philosophie magazine (a monthly publication with 50 000 readers), and I’ve published twenty novels and essays alas not available in English. I’m the president and co-founder of a creative writing school located in Paris, Les Mots.


I wrote...

Dragons in Love

By Alexandre Lacroix, Ronan Badel (illustrator),

Book cover of Dragons in Love

What is my book about?

Strokkur is a little dragon, living alone with his daddy. Then, he’s got a problem: when a charming little girl grants him a kiss on his cheek, he feels his fire burning inside… He’s terrified, a dragon shouldn’t be in love, otherwise, he may hurt the one he loves with his flames… Like in his previous adventure, Dragons. Father and Son, also illustrated by Ronan Badel, Strokkur we’ll have to solve a moral dilemma.

The Tunnel

By Anthony Browne,

Book cover of The Tunnel

What does happen when you get into a dark tunnel? When you quit reality to enter the realm of dreams and nightmares? A great story by the great Anthony Browne, which also deals with the relationship between sister and brother.


Who am I?

I’m the happy father of five children, born between 2000 and 2017. So in my adult years, I have quite constantly lived in the company of young children, and I’ve started inventing stories for them. I have now six albums published in France, all of which were originally imagined for my kids just before we switch off the light for sleeping. Born in 1975, I live in Paris, I’m the chief editor of Philosophie magazine (a monthly publication with 50 000 readers), and I’ve published twenty novels and essays alas not available in English. I’m the president and co-founder of a creative writing school located in Paris, Les Mots.


I wrote...

Dragons in Love

By Alexandre Lacroix, Ronan Badel (illustrator),

Book cover of Dragons in Love

What is my book about?

Strokkur is a little dragon, living alone with his daddy. Then, he’s got a problem: when a charming little girl grants him a kiss on his cheek, he feels his fire burning inside… He’s terrified, a dragon shouldn’t be in love, otherwise, he may hurt the one he loves with his flames… Like in his previous adventure, Dragons. Father and Son, also illustrated by Ronan Badel, Strokkur we’ll have to solve a moral dilemma.

Pooh! Is That You, Bertie?

By David Roberts,

Book cover of Pooh! Is That You, Bertie?

Because farts are funny (and always will be) the puerile humor in these covers is pure gold. I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing so hard (I lent it to my friend simply to watch him struggle to breathe as he read it). This book is my recommendation when reading-snobs ask me what I'd rather read than the pretentious tripe they insist I should be reading.


Who am I?

By now you are probably wondering why the author of a dark and violent tale set in the Zombie Apocalypse is recommending humorous books. The answer lies within the five elements of survival: Shelter, Fire, Food, Water, and Mindset. A positive mindset can get you through a lot of dark and dangerous times, and being able to find the funny in the darkness will help you maintain that mindset (especially if you are injured or scared). 


I wrote...

Sleep with One Eye Open

By Beau Johnston,

Book cover of Sleep with One Eye Open

What is my book about?

The annual Zombie Pride Parade is set to begin in Sydney’s CBD. Instead of costumed revelers, the streets fill with zombies flooding out from an underground train station and into an unsuspecting public. A brawl erupts and people realize they aren’t just defending themselves, they’re fighting for their lives. 

We follow John’s journey as he flees the carnage and quickly prepares for a bleak and dangerous future. The spread of the undead is concealed by looting and vigilantism as countless zombies swiftly overrun entire suburbs. John’s journey takes him to places we’ve all been, or should make the effort to visit….. coastal and rural Australia. This is the story of an ordinary man who makes use of wit and guile to achieve the seemingly impossible.

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

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