Ah, sweet bedtime, when parents can relax a bit and take a breath. Help kids settle down to sleep in a peaceful, positive way by sharing these stories.
By Nikki Grimes; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2020)
Recommended by the Denver Public Library, “this timeless story of a mother lovingly encouraging her energetic child to go to bed feels like a classic, even though it was just published in 2020,” says children’s librarian Liesel Schmidt. The story features a child who doesn’t want to go to bed, alongside unique collage illustrations of animals, which mirror the child’s emotions and mannerisms.
By Ray Jayawardhana; illustrated by Raul Colón (Make Me A World/Random House Children’s Books, 2020)
Just before bed, a father tells his daughter about her place in their interconnected universe in this book recommended by Liesel Schmidt. Cosmic illustrations of planets and stars accompany the father’s observant and complimentary words about his girl.
By Candace Fleming; illustrated by Lori Nichols (Schwartz & Wade, 2017)
A favorite of Boulder Library specialists, this book teaches kids about bedtime on the farm and all the different places animals sleep, with a twist. Pig goes to his sty to find Cow sleeping there. Cow goes to her stall to find Hen sleeping there. Each animal tells the other: “Go sleep in your own bed!” Sound familiar, parents?
By Judith L. Roth; illustrated by Kendra Binney(Page Street Publishing, 2021)
A soothing lullaby carries a baby on a gondola ride past the sights and sounds of Venice, Italy, with mother as gondolier and father as serenader. Rhyming text guides the family floating through the city and past historic landmarks, pigeons, pets, people in apartments, and businesses.
By Anna Milbourne; illustrated by Daniel Rieley (Usborne, 2018)
The dark can be scary, but it can be other things, too. Readers learn this as they peep through laser-cut holes in this book’s pages. It comes recommended by Jaclyn Stevens, an Arvada homeschool teacher and Usborne Books & More consultant. “Light shines through the cut outs,” she says, “which is particularly beautiful at the end when the boy discovers there are some things you can only enjoy in the dark—stars.”
By Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by Tony Fucile (Chronicle Books, 2021)
Mouse can’t get to sleep because it’s too quiet. Then he learns the night is full of all kinds of sounds, such as croaking bullfrogs and howling coyotes. Kids will laugh and squeal through this silly, not-so-quiet bedtime read-aloud from the author of the well-known book, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.
By Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G); illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020)
Words from a beloved Hebrew lullaby pair with illustrations of a refugee family in this bedtime story. As a Jewish family leaves their home and travels by boat, they say “Lilah Tov”—good night—to all their familiar surroundings. The story ends with a child sleeping safely in a new home.
Librarians and book experts also recommend:
- Happy Dreams, Little Bunny by Leah Hong
- Help Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson; illustrated by Courtney Dawson
- Nighttime Symphony by Timabland with Christopher Myers; illustrated by Christopher Myers and Kaa Illustration
- I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora
- Goodnight Songs Treasury by Margaret Wise Brown
- Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin
- Cave Dada by Brandon Reese
- Click, Clack, Good Night by Doreen Cronin; illustrated by Betsy Lewin
- Go To Bed, Goat by Michael Dahl; illustrated by Oriol Vidal
- Sweet Dreams, Zaza by Mylo Freeman
- Sheep Won’t Sleep by Judy Cox; illustrated by Nina Cuneo
- Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
- Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy; illustrated by Shawn Harris
- The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
- Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
- Woodland Dreams by Karen Jameson; illustrated by Marc Boutavant
- Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
- Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague
- The Napping House by Audrey Wood; illustrated by Don Wood
- How to Put an Octopus to Bed by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Viviane Schwarz
- Tuck Me In! by Dean Hacohen; illustrated by Sherry Scharschmidt
- Time for Bed by Mem Fox; illustrated by Jane Dyer
- Tiger Can’t Sleep by S.J. Fore; illustrated by R.W. Alley
- Girls and Boys Come Out to Play by Tracey Campbell Pearson
Bedtime for Sweet Creatures: Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Child of the Universe, Go Sleep in Your Own Bed, Lilah Tov Good Night: Penguin Random House. Venetian Lullaby: Page Street Publishing. I’m Not (Very) Afraid of the Dark: Usborne. It’s So Quiet: Chronicle Books. Background: Getty Images.