Bedtime routines can be difficult for a lot of children and, more often than not, are met with frustrating resistance. For us parents, it’s the only thing that stands in the way of peace and tranquility, and there’s nothing we’d love more than to get it over with without a struggle. We all have our ways, but a reliable choice will always be bedtime stories.
I’ve narrowed down a list of our favorite sleep-inducing books that not only have adorable illustrations, but also work wonders in setting the mood for a calm and relaxed evening. To make it even better, they’re short and sweet, so do-overs aren’t too difficult (and you won’t have to lie to your kid about skipping pages).
Out with the old
Good Night Moon was all well and good during the first year, but after reading it multiple times every evening, you kind of just get mad at the fact that you have too many objects in your room. And when your kid starts talking, you’re not gonna want any of that.
…and in with the new
These bedtime books are informative, creative, and loveable. A great combo to get the little ones interested in reading as it lulls them to sleep. Guaranteed to win the approval of parents and kiddies, these are must-haves in every young one’s library. They’re also extremely sturdy and practically indestructible, so that earns plus points when it comes to anything toddler related.
1. Sleepyheads written by Sandra J. Howatt & illustrated by Joyce Wan
Rhyming books are tricky because the rhythm tends to excite the kids, which is NOT what we want for bedtime. This bedtime book for toddlers gets the flow just right, and as all the animals are pictured fast asleep, the storyteller looks for one last character- which wraps up everything nicely as you tuck your very own sleepyhead off to bed.
2. Silly Lullaby by Sandra Boynton
Written by the same author as Moo Baa Lalala (an ultimate fave in our house), this bedtime book for toddlers is perfect for those who enjoy a good bedtime song since it includes music notes to accompany the lullaby. The story is silly enough to entertain both kiddies and parents alike, and ends the night with an extremely happy vibe.
3. Shhh! This Book is Sleeping written by Cedric Ramadier & illustrated by Vincent Bourgeau
An interactive bedtime book for toddlers that puts a spin on bedtime stories, this one invites your child with the responsibility of putting the book to sleep! It goes through the motions of getting ready for bed, which naturally encourages your little one to do the same. The results- a toddler more than ready for lights out.
4. If Animals Kissed Goodnight written by Ann Whitford Paul & illustrated by David Walker.
Books on animals are an undeniable go-to for kids to learn more about the world. This adorable book names the animals and their babies, and the different ways they bid each other goodnight. As a bonus, you can join in on the love and ask for extra baby kisses with every page.
5. A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na
Beautifully illustrated, this bedtime book for toddlers shows all the different ways animals sleep, as observed by a curious owl. He goes on a moonlit journey (as owls do) and once he’s ready to settle in for snooze time at the end, it encourages the little ones to do just the same.
Honourable mention: ROOM ON THE BROOM written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
I chose not to include this on the list because it falls under the category of the (much) longer reads. However, I thought it was a wonderful introduction to something that we assume would be too scary, and turns it around into overcoming that fear. It’s a fun read, the rhymes are excellent, and the takeaway is great, but as a warning… you’ll want to save this one for last because they’ll most likely ask for an encore, in which case, you can tell them it’s too late.
Note: The top 5 books are also available on Youtube as Read Aloud stories, but screen time right before sleeping is highly discouraged (blue light and all).