10 Must-Have Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers (Just In Time For Christmas!)

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2 weeks until Christmas! And those of us who celebrate it are probably all thinking the same thing right about now:

MUST. FINISH. SHOPPING.

If you’ve barely made a dent in your shopping list, no need to panic — today, we’re suggesting some fantastic bedtime books for your babies and toddlers. Some are tried-and-true bedtime classics; others are new books that are on their way to becoming beloved favorites. And they’d all make great gifts, parents!

And those of you overachievers organized types who finished your shopping weeks ago will want to check this out, too. It’s never too late to add a gift or two to your Christmas list, right? ;)

The Baby Sleep Site’s™ Top 10 Baby and Toddler Bedtime Books

Bear Snores On

Karma Wilson’s Bear books have always been favorites in my house, and Bear Snores On ranks right at the top. Bear can sleep through anything — even all the commotion his animal friends cause as they crowd into his cave to escape a storm! My kids’ love the warm, cozy feel of this book, as well as its lilting rhymes.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

Jane Yolen’s “How Do Dinosaurs” books are sure to fire up the imaginations of little boys and girls alike. In this book, Yolen’s dinosaurs engage in some good (and not-so good!) bedtime behaviors that parents of “little dinosaurs” will surely recognize. Combining bright, cheerful illustrations and wonderful rhymes, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? is bound to become a household favorite.



Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

This one is a great choice if you have a truck-lover at home! With Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, your little one can bid goodnight to bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, and cement mixers who’ve worked hard all day at the construction site and are ready for bed. The pictures in this one (by the super-talented Tom Lichtenheld) are perfect — each truck has tons of personality! :)

How Will I Ever Sleep In This Bed?

If your toddler is close to making the transition from crib to bed, you’ll definitely want to check out How Will I Ever Sleep In This Bed? In it, a little boy is (understandably) anxious about moving from his tiny crib to a great big bed. He tries filling it with his stuffed animals, to make it seem less huge and empty — but then, he’s not sure there’ll be enough room for him! Your toddler will be comforted as he watches the book’s hero conquer his fear of the “big bed” and snuggle in for a night of peaceful, happy sleep.

Goodnight, Moon

Really — is any child’s bookshelf complete without a copy of Goodnight, Moon? This is probably the most beloved, classic bedtime book of all (and one that I know by heart, I’ve read it so many times!) Margaret Wise Brown’s enchanting rhymes and Clement Hurd’s unforgettable illustrations combine to create a memorable little book.

Kiss Good Night

This is such a cozy, sweet little book. Mrs. Bear is putting her little cub, Sam, to bed, but she’s not quite getting it right. Sam is still waiting for something. Mrs. Bear tries milk, a blanket, a book…what could she be forgetting? Perhaps a Kiss Good Night? A lovely book about bedtime routines and the special bond between a mommy and her little one.

Time For Bed

This has always been one of my all-time favorite bedtime books to read to my kids (especially when they were babies!) Mem Fox’s sleepy, dreamy text pairs perfectly with Jane Dyer’s beautiful illustrations of mommy animals snuggling up with their babies. Time For Bed is the ideal book to help quiet and calm your baby at bedtime.

Goodnight, My Duckling

I read Goodnight, My Duckling to my oldest son all the time. We read it so much, in fact, that we wore out our first copy and had to replace it! Mama Duck calls her ducklings to follow her home to bed, but one little duckling gets separated from his family. A wise old turtle saves the day and returns the little duckling to his nest, just in time to claim a special, snuggly spot beneath his mama’s wing.

The Going To Bed Book

We had to include at least one Sandra Boynton book in this list. :) (Visit her site, when you get a chance — it’s hysterical!) The Going To Bed Book, in true Boynton fashion, is pure bedtime silliness. Your little one will love reading about the ark full of animals who are preparing for bed by taking a bath (in one big tub), brushing their teeth, and doing exercises on deck.

What! Cried Granny

We’re ending our list on a funny note with this one. What! Cried Granny is, according to the cover, “An Almost Bedtime Story”, and it lives up to its subtitle. Little Patrick is all set to have a sleepover at his granny’s house, until he points out that he doesn’t have a bed at her house. Granny cries (you guessed it), “What!?” and races outside to chop down a tree and build him one. Problem solved…until Patrick points out that he doesn’t have his teddy bear (or his blanket, or his pillow…) Good thing Patrick’s granny is so resourceful! If a grandparent in your family needs help with gift ideas for your toddler or preschooler, this would be a great book to suggest.

For more bedtime book ideas (and plenty of other sleep-related links!) be sure to visit the Baby Sleep Site’s™ Pinterest page.

Did we leave out one of your favorites? Share your best-loved bedtime books below!

Disclosure: The Baby Sleep Site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link above and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product. This commission will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and good for our readers.

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Comments

  1. Donna says

    You have one of my two favorites on your list (Time for Bed). The one not on your list is “Hush Little Baby” by Sylvia Long.

    Thanks for the great list of books!

  2. Jen says

    All wonderful bedtime books! I’d like to add “When the World Is Ready for Bed” by Gillian Shields. The whole book is so soft and warm, my kid (who fights sleep at every turn)actually calms down when we read it. It’s a staple at our house!

  3. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Donna and @ Jen — thanks for these suggestions! I’ll update the list in the next few days to include them. Tried-and-true suggestions like yours are so helpful to other parents; thanks for sharing them!

  4. Angelique Toadvine says

    “Bear Snores On” is one of our favorites and we just borrowed “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Truck” from our library. My son loves it so much i immediately ordered it for him for christmas. i ordered 2 more copies to give to his two best buddies since all three boys seem to be obsessed with trucks. LOL.

  5. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Angelique — the truck stage! Both my boys were obsessed with trucks from 18 months until about 3.5. Fun phase! Hope your little guy (and his buddies) enjoy their books!

  6. Shannon says

    “The Goodnight Train” and “Mother Mother I want another” are two other favorites of my children.

  7. Cathy says

    How nice to have some new ideas for bedtime books – thank you! “Good Night Gorilla” is a favourite with my six month old girl. She is only starting to enjoy reading and seems to get a bit overwhelmed with a lot of words right now. This one is great, because there are very few words and the illustrations are wonderful. We started out just whispering the names of the different animals and are now slowly adding more to the story every few nights.

  8. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Shannon — thanks for these titles! “Mother, Mother, I want Another” is one I’m not familiar with; I’ll be sure to look it up :)

    Thanks for commenting!

  9. Emily DeJeu says

    @ lidia varesco design — Thanks for this suggestion! This is another one I haven’t heard of, but if it encourages teeth brushing, it must be good!

    Thanks for commenting! :)

  10. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Cathy — my kids loved “Good Night, Gorilla” when they were little, too! That was a book that they loved looking at by themselves, too, since it was just pictures and almost no words. Thanks for mentioning this one, Cathy, and for commenting!

  11. Talia says

    This is great, I was just browsing for books on the net and didn’t know what to buy. Thanks!

    Our favorite is was not on the list though: The Gruffalo. And I say “our” because it’s the favorite of every single member of the family… :)

  12. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Talia — My boys like The Gruffalo, too! We were introduced to it about a year ago at a local library’s Saturday story hour; that was the featured story. So cute!!

  13. says

    “I Took the Moon for Walk” is a lovely book! My son had a hard time sitting through books, but since my husband and I love to read we were determined to make a book part of his bedtime routine. This was the first book he ever sat through and listened to. The cadence of the poetry is catchy but not annoying and the pictures are beautiful! He is nine months now and loves to find the moon in all of the pictures. The story is creative and imaginative as well. There are others by the same author like “Listen Listen” that I can’t wait to get for him.

  14. Jennifer Callaghan says

    “Goodnight Gorilla” is my 22-month old daughter’s absolute favourite. I think we read it 5 times a day. At least. I’m looking forward to trying all the other suggestions, and hoping I can find them in England.

  15. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Kessa — I love that one, too! But I was having a hard time finding a reasonably-priced copy on Amazon to point people towards. I’m wondering if it’s gone out of print or something?

    @ Jennifer Callaghan — that’s how my daughter (18 months) feels about “Goodnight, Moon”! She loves to make the “hush” sound with me when I get to the line about the “quiet old lady, who was whispering, ‘Hush.'” :)

    As for getting these in England — I’m thinking amazon.com.uk/ would have at least most of these. Hope you can get your hands on some in time for Christmas!

    Thanks for commenting, ladies!

  16. Emily DeJeu says

    @ andie mcbee — thanks for this recommendation! The pictures do look lovely. :)

    Thanks for commenting!

  17. Julie Vaughan says

    I’m so excited to get some of these books! thanks for the suggestions. I also really love “Its time to sleep my love,” “The night you were born,” “The crown on your head,” and “Wherever you are, my love will find you” all by Nancy Tillman. All are probably better for kids that are a little older. My son is 15 months old and is just now getting interested in them but they are soooooo sweet and heartwarming. The first two come in board books but the last two were fairly new when I bought them in the spring and weren’t in board books yet. Counting Kisses by Karen Katz is also really sweet – a “kiss & read” book – very fun!

  18. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Julie Vaughan — thanks so much for these excellent suggestions! I used to read “The Night You Were Born” with my boys; I loved the illustrations in that one :)

    Hope you have a merry Christmas, Julie! And thanks for commenting :)

  19. Meghan Shivel says

    After reading Sandra Boynton’s Birthday Monsters and Night Night Little Pookie night after night, we got a few more for Christmas for both my almost 3 year old and our almost 1 year old. Favorites right now are Pajama Time and Snuggle Puppy. I also love Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. That and Goodnight Moon were the first routine books in her rotation as an older infant and young toddler.

  20. Meghan Shivel says

    Also Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead. That has a very relaxing and calming cadence and very little text.

  21. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Meghan Shivel — we love Big Red Barn, too! It’s another one that I have memorized at this point (having read it to three kids over the past 5 years!) And those Sandra Boynton’s are some of our favorites, too. My oldest used to dance around the room when I’d read Pajama Time!

    Thanks for the recommendation on Goodnight, Goodnight Sleepyhead. I’m not familiar with that one, so it’s nice to hear about a new title!

    Thanks for commenting, Meghan :)