Top 10 Favorite Bedtime Stories
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Every night before bed, our daughter climbs into her bed, our son sits on my lap, and my husband reads us a bedtime story. This has become a wonderful family routine that our 5-year-old and our 2-year-old can enjoy with us.
The best part about reading a bedtime story together as a family is that we have established bedtime routines that work to help everyone get a good night sleep and we are well rested the next day.
If you're interested in establishing your own bedtime routine, check out my post Consistent Bedtime Routine for Young Children.
There are a few books our daughter loves to read to us, and she has the books memorized.
Whether it's fairy tales, short stories, nursery rhymes, or a classic tale, our young readers are always so engaged in story time.
I have compiled a list of our favorite children’s books we read at bedtime that I thought I would share if you were looking for a good bedtime story to read with your family.
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Why is it important to read bedtime stories?
After a long day of hard work for your children, it's important to find a way to de-stress and unwind. That's why I think you should read bedtime stories every night before bed as a family. Not only will it help your children unwind for the day, but it can help you as parents as well. Every night when I sit down on my daughter's bed, I feel like I can finally slow down for the night and relax. The children are ready for bed, and anything left to bed done in the house can wait until the next day.
Another reason is the cognitive benefits for your children. It is great for brain development and memory to read every single day for everyone. If your children are too young to pick up a book and start reading themselves, it's even more important for you to read with them. That's why I find reading bedtime stories together to be such a special time because it's built right into your bedtime routine and gets everyone together one last time.
Whether you read funny stories, folk tales, or chapter books, this bedtime reading will have so many benefits for the whole family.
Could we read audio stories as a family?
I don't see any problems with audio stories or audio books in general, but for bedtime, I personally think you should be reading the stories as a family. Allowing your children to follow along as you read the stories is great for them. They not only get to look at the pictures, but they get to follow along with the words which will help teach them how to read.
You will also find that many children want to "read" the stories themselves after you've read them the story a few times. My daughter has so many stories memorized and loves to read to us now. Even though we know she's not actually reading the words, she feels like she is reading, and she is recognizing many of the words on the pages now and is starting to read them. Our son is starting to memorize the books now as well and follows along.
How can I make reading bedtime stories more fun?
Get animated! One of the best ways to engage your children is by using different voices and acting out the stories.
When we read Left Foot Right Foot by Dr. Seuss, I hold my son's feet and act out what the feet in the story are doing. He's starting to move his feet along with me now and can anticipate what movement I'm going to do next. During "fuzzy fur feet," we always tickle our kids’ feet to get them giggling. This is their favorite part.
When we read Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, there is a kitty playing on its back on the back of the book. One day while we were reading the book, she giggled and said, "There's a kitty upside down!" Now, every time we read this story, after we say The End, we must flip the book over and say, "There's a kitty upside down."
Should we read bedtime stories as a family?
Sure, why not! We read bedtime stories as a family, and we find it to be the best time to relax together. No one has electronics or is busy with something else, so we are all focused on the same thing. It's so great to spend this time with my husband and both of my children and we can say our good nights right after we finished the story and go to our own bedrooms.
I understand this is not always possible and as your children get older, they may not want to. If you can get the whole family together to read a bedtime story occasionally, I think it would be a great time to spend together. As my children get older and their schedules get busier, I know we won't always be able to read bedtime stories together every night. I'm going to take full advantage of this time together while I still can.
Where should we read bedtime stories?
Where you want. Our daughter has a double bed, and my son is still in a crib, so we all sit on my daughter's bed to read bedtime stories. After we finished the story, I carry my son into his room to put him to bed. So far, this method works best for us, but it will probably change in the future. There are nights when our daughter is having a sleepover at her grandparent's house, so I will sit on my son's rocking chair in his bedroom with him on my lap while my husband reads the story sitting in a chair.
If you have a comfortable spot in the house where the kids are not distracted and everyone can sit together, I think that would be the perfect spot. You could even rotate spots every night if your kids all want their bedroom to be the bedtime story room.
The perfect spot for your family may not be the perfect spot for every family, so get comfortable and spend the quality time with your family.
Where can I get more bedtime stories to read?
Our collection has been getting bigger because we receive free bedtime stories from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. Dolly Parton started Imagination Library to help get books into the hands of all children no matter what their family's income was. It's so important for all children to have access to books and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a great way to do that.
If you are interested in signing your child up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, you can check for availability and Sign-up Here.
Another option to get more books for your children is to check out your public library. Not only do many public libraries have a huge collection of children's books, but they typically have activities and programs for kids of all ages as well. Stop on into your public library to get your child their very own library card and allow them to explore the books themselves.
A third option is to read the stories your children borrow from their school library. Your child should have access to their school's library, and they typically go to the library to borrow books each week. Make sure your child is taking advantage of this opportunity and borrowing books each week. If you notice your child isn't bringing home books from school, double check with the school to make sure this is still an option for them.
What books do you recommend?
1. Baby Be Kind by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
We received this book before our daughter was born and it is our number one favorite book. My daughter, husband, and I all have this short little cardboard book memorized and we can recite it at any moment. I have purchased this fan favorite for baby showers as well and I would recommend it as a gift to any family member or best friend.
2. Three Little Pigs by Al Dempster
This cute Little Golden Book is a classic fairy tale and there are many different versions you can choose from. We prefer this version because of the songs, but you could look into any version you like. My kid's really love the big bad wolf in this version too.
3. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
If you’re looking for a tearjerker, this is the book to read. The story of a man who grows up and still loves his mother will make you question the intention of children’s books. It’s adorable though and a wonderful read with its own valuable lessons.
4. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket! by Dr. Seuss
Who doesn’t love a good Dr. Seuss book? We have a large collection, and our children love them all. This is probably her favorite one because of the Zellar in the Cellar. I wouldn't consider these short bedtime stories unless you purchase the mini cardboard versions instead of the full-size books. Either way, the picture books make this such a good book to read.
5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I think this is my husband’s favorite children’s book as well. The young boy goes on his own adventure to help teach our children good morals. The story is a great read for all ages, which is why it made the list of our top bedtime stories.
6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This story is wonderful to help your child fall asleep into a deep sleep. It is a classic and an easy read finding different things in the room. You may find yourself reading this book every night.
7. Corduroy by Don Freeman
I loved to read this story as a child and now enjoy reading it to my own children. The cute little teddy bear that lives on the shelf at the store is adorable. It shows Corduroy finding a little girl to take him home even though he was missing a button.
8. Doc McStuffins: Shake Your Tail Feathers by Andrea Posner
Disney Junior Little Golden Books are very easy books, and our daughter enjoys many of them. This book is great because it encourages kids in a fun way to get up and get moving to stay in shape. We also love the fun illustrations that make you feel like you're watching the show.
9. There Was a Silly Unicorn Who Wanted to Fly by Ken Geist
There was a Silly Unicorn Who Wanted to Fly is one of the newer books that took on a new place in our collection. This book is great for young kids and older kids and is a unique story about a unicorn who swallows other animals to fly. Although it's not teaching directly about the human body, it still teaches life lessons in a silly way.
10. The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen
The message of this story really does a great job teaching kids that no matter how much money you have or how expensive your clothes are, everyone is truly the same. The emperor thought he was more important than everyone else, but he was just made to look like a fool.
These are just 10 of our favorite bedtime stories, but we have many more we love to read!
I wanted to include some of our honorable mentions.
11. Left Foot Right Foot by Dr. Seuss
12. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep by Jane Cabrera
13. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
14. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jim Razzi
15. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
16. Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
17. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson
18. Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen
19. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
20. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
21. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
22. Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm
Reading bedtime stories place such an important role in your child's development, and you can find so many minute bedtime stories to read.
I found the best way to connect to our children is to have a large collection of bedtime stories and we allow them to choose the story every night. Letting them choose which book we read, really helps them get engaged in the story and boosts their loves of reading. This could mean you have to read the same story 10 days in a row, but it's the price you pay to get your children to love to read.
What are some of your favorite books to read at bedtime?
Do you have different stories you would like to share?
Feel free to share in the comments below.