8 Great Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers

8 Great Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers

My top picks have knockout art and stories that will help your little one settle in for the night.

Of all the books you read to your baby, none feel quite as urgent as bedtime stories. And yet great bedtime books should make your baby feel calm, secure and ready to nod off — if your baby even makes it all the way to the end. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

All these great bedtime books are soothing and lovely enough to read again, and again, and again.

8 Great Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers

Goodnight Moon,’ by Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrated by Clement Hurd

great bedtime books

The one, the only, the gold standard for bedtime picture books — for excellent reasons. The repetition, the lulling rhythms, the touch of mystery (who is the old lady whispering hush?). As the story moves deeper into the night, babies tend to move closer to sleep.

‘Good Night, Gorilla,’ by Peggy Rathman

So few words, so much bedtime fun. As a zookeeper makes his rounds around the nighttime zoo, saying good night to each creature, the gorilla follows behind, letting each one out to make a parade behind him — until they all join him and his wife in their bedroom. Then it’s back to the zoo for the animals, and to bed and to sleep for the humans — and your baby.

Buy it from Amazon.

‘The Going to Bed Book,’ by Sandra Boynton

Like all of Boynton’s board books, this one is silly and upbeat, and the rhymes are so catchy, you’ll want to read it again as soon as you finish. It can help your bedtime game by planting the idea of a nightly routine — one that ends with sleep — in your little one’s mind.

Buy it from Amazon.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site,’ by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

great bedtime books

The truck book meets the bedtime story. For some little listeners, that’s enough said. But also keep in mind that this is a sweet, cooperative group of machines, who gallantly help one another out as they close down the day and get ready for bed. The rhymes are clever, and the vehicles are drawn to perfection.

Buy it from Amazon.

A Book of Sleep,’ by Il Sung Na

great bedtime books

Your baby and you can both feast your tired eyes on the gorgeous, dreamy art in this book — and then it will be time for baby to close them. A little owl takes us through a sleeping animal kingdom, pointing out the different ways the animals sleep.

Buy it from Amazon.

‘Llama Llama Red Pajama,’ by Anna Dewdney

Llama is just so relatable in this first of the sweet, essential series he stars in. Of course he doesn’t want to go to bed yet, but his wise mama makes the transition to sleepy-time smooth — and the perfect rhymes and warm, emotionally aware art help, too.

Buy it from Amazon.

‘Ladybug Girl Says Good Night,’ by David Soman and Jacky Davis

The Ladybug Girl series fills everyday life with imagination and lovely art that pops off the page — in lots of red, of course. Ladybug Girl’s bedtime routine, which includes a stack of books demanding to be read, is both comforting and imaginative.

Buy it from Amazon.

Little Owl’s Night,’ by Divya Srinivasan

A nifty bedtime story with a twist, as Little Owl roams the night forest, then settles in for sleep just as the sun is rising. Pages with black backgrounds add to the interest.

Buy it from Amazon.

"8 Great Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers" by Maria Russo © 2020 The New York Times Company

This story was originally published on 27 November 2019 in NYT Parenting.

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NYT Parenting

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