Bedtime stories are very important for your child’s development, as well as being a great time to teach and instigate values without your child even realizing that he or she is being taught. Some books are, however, better than others if you are planning to read to your children on a regular basis. The top bedtime stories are hard to define as different children enjoy different things and different parents are looking for different things from a book that they read to a child. There are a number of things that you should lookout for when reading reviews about books because they do tend to be fairly good indicators that the book is worth purchasing:
- The book holds up well under repeat reading: Children like to hear the same thing over and over again as they prefer familiarity over novelty, especially in the first years of life. If the book is still interesting for you as the parent after several rereads, you know it is a good option.
- The book is entertaining for the parents as well as for the children: These days authors are more in tune with the fact that parents need to be entertained as well, and they are aware that this will increase sales of the book. Consequently there are plenty books out there that you may enjoy.
1: Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton
This is a book more suitable for preschool aged children than older children. It contains some basic but very catchy rhymes. The concept behind it is that children will enjoy the idea of getting ready for bed as they hear about the cute and lovable characters in the book getting ready for their pajama party and donning various items of sleep gear.
Characteristic sentence from the book: “Pajammy to the left. Pajammy to the right. Everybody’s wearing them for dancing tonight.”
Toddlers love this book because of the expressions on the faces of the characters as well as the ‘irrepressible language’ used throughout. It has a catchy beat that keeps the attention of the child focused on the story and prevents distractions.
This is also one of those books that can be read over and over again, as two year olds generally expect. They like the repetition, but because the book is an easy read for adults with its catchy beat, this is not the trial that some people expect it to be. It will soon become one of your favorite choices as well and you will be begging your child to let you read Pajama Time! by Sandra Boyton instead of one of their other options. Your child will have many favorite books, but this is one that you will not get tired of reading. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of the beat and the book itself is fairly short, meaning that it can be used as a quick way to calm your child down and get him or her ready for bed a little more quickly than usual. These are the main reasons buying Pajama Time! is at the top of the list.
2: Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
This is a book that is more suitable for children not yet in kindergarten, and maybe even for a few of them who have just started. The main plot is as follows: Little Owl has been asleep all day. He wakes up and watches his friends enjoying the night. He sees the full moon and wonders why anyone would choose to sleep at night and miss all of these wonderful things. But he also wonders what goes on during the day when the sun is up. Basically bedtime is given a new meaning in the book because it happens when night time is over. There are a few benefits of this book for a child:
- It teaches children that nighttime (and the dark) can be a wonderful place. It could even help with a child that is afraid of the night to become bolder.
- It teaches children about beauty in nature, specifically at nighttime.
This will be one of your child’s favorite books as the story is a familiar one that they can relate to with enough novelty contained within for them to find it new and interesting. In addition the prose is written well and in a way that the child will latch on to. The book is very well illustrated, another factor in its favor which makes it a great buy.
The book is for children, but it manages to avoid the baby talk that children pick up on. It is easy enough for them to understand and enjoy without the need for silly and childish language. This is one of those books that your child will want you to read over and over again, but luckily it is also one that you won’t mind reading.
3: The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson & Beth Krommes
This is another book that will probably be quite good for kids who are afraid of the dark. It takes the time to point out that the things that make your home comfortable during the day are still there at night, and it illustrates some very common objects in an intriguing and comforting way. As bedtime stories go, this one will be ideal for young children who need a bit of reassurance before going to bed at night.
The text is simple: “In the house / burns a light. / In that light / rests a bed. On that bed / waits a book.” It is quite an adventurous story. A bird emerges from a book and spirits the girl in the story, who has been given the golden key to the house, away and on a great adventure. The story is not altogether different from a number of other stories along the same lines that have been written for children, but the difference with this book is in the illustrations used. This is a visually pleasing book for adults and children to buy, and it is in the artwork where the real message lies. The book strikes and interesting balance between:
- Things that are familiar and comforting to a child, and
- Things that are more unfamiliar and tat inspire boldness and daring
The book is illustrated on scratchboard, a very interesting medium, as it gives the full feel of nighttime wonder.
This is likely to be one of those children’s classics that your grandchildren will read to their grandchildren many years from now. The simplicity with underlying complexity makes this particular bedtime story stand out from the crowd and make an impact.
4: I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll & Howard McWilliam
This is a book that is aimed at making the ‘monsters’ that your child is afraid of less scary, which makes this a very important book to buy. The book combines shivers and giggles, but the balance is perfect and the ultimate end goal is always attained. This book:
- Relies on the power of humor over fear as the authors have come to the conclusion that if a child can laugh about a monster the monster becomes far less frightening.
- It also makes the most of the fact that children love living creatures, even if they are alarming and absurd.
- Last but not least, it acknowledges the vast imagination reserves of the average child and allows them to take that imagination and create their own unique experience from the book.
The basic plot: Ethan’s monster Gabe has gone away for a few days, leaving behind a note that says “Gone fishing”. Ethan knows that he will not be able to sleep without Gabe’s nightly repertoire of scare tactics, so he looks for a substitute candidate, interviewing several other monsters, none of whom prove to be scary enough. Gabe returns earlier than expected, much to Ethan’s delight, because he found that the fish scare too easily.
Essentially what this does is that it makes the idea of having a monster in your room something positive. The monster can be your own and you can create it from your own imagination. As Publisher’s Weekly puts it “Ethan’s enthusiasm for his monster should prove infectious”.
This book may be better suited for those children who like slightly scary stories before going to bed and who can handle it as some kids may still find the content of this particular bedtime story a little bit too much.
5: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Typical line from the book: ‘In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room–to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one–he says goodnight.’
This is a book that suits kids who need to be calmed down and soothed at the end of the day before they will go to sleep. The book is written as a sort of lullaby, so the words themselves rock the child to sleep. In addition the illustrations use soft and soothing colors that will also do a lot to put your child to sleep and calm them down enough. The story will be a familiar one to children as the little rabbit tries to postpone bedtime by saying goodnight to everything that he can see, much like a small toddler tries to delay being taken upstairs by running around and hugging everyone goodnight three or four times each.
The book can be interactive as there are recurring items that the child can point out on each page, such as a mouse. The book is written in such a way that the words get slower and quieter towards the end and the pictures start to darken in order to indicate nighttime. Your child will definitely feel sleepier after listening to the story than he or she did before you read the book to them. It is also one of those books that children will want read over and over again and, again, a perfect buy.
We had a quick look at some of the main ideas and opinions people have about the following books:
- Pajama Time! by Sandra Boyton
- Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
- The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson & Beth Krommes
- I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll & Howard McWilliam
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
However you need to keep in mind that there are many different children’s books on the market and many of them are very good for a variety of different reasons. These top five books are deemed the top bedtime stories for children only as according to one particular website which actually lists its idea of the top 10 bedtime stories for children if you want to do some more research). However different sites have different ideas about what the best stories are. Here are some other sites you can look at for suggestions:
The stories that work for your children really do depend on the age and interests of your children. A story about a train that learned an important lesson, for example, may be more beneficial for your three year old son than your 5 year old daughter who is more interested in ponies. In addition, if you know your children well and if you have a reasonable imagination, you can make up your own stories to tell them every once in a while that they will love. And you will only have to think up 3 or 4 different ones because they will like to hear the same stories over and over again.