Book Reviews

10 Best Books for Helping Kids Sleep

Encouraging children to sleep !

It’s a conundrum for many parents. The child’s need for companionship, reassurance and – on the other side, sleep! – often work to prevent a seamless transition from a playful day to quiet slumbers. The prevalence of bedtime rituals the world over that involve bedtime stories is proof that books can be potent bedtime and sleep aides for children.

Yet while there are many books available that have been designed to send children to sleep, some are truly more special than others. Here is our big list of the ten best books for helping ease children to sleep at night.

1. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

Best Bedtime Books for Kids - How Do Dinosaurs Say GoodnightA quirky book that’s sure to make your little dinosaur-lover laugh, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? pokes fun at the dramas that children can create at bedtime, asking if dinosaurs do the same. There’s really nothing quite like seeing a dinosaur pout, demand a piggyback, or collapse on his bed in a flood of tears at the thought of going to bed!

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? is a lovely way to draw attention to the ridiculous and have a little smile with your child before bed. This quirky book is sure to be a favourite with kids who can laugh at themselves, and love a creative look at an age-old theme.

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2. Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Ten Best Bedtime Books - Goodnight for Mommy by Amy Krouse RosenthalA lovely book for switching sides, Bedtime for Mommy sees a little girl putting her Mummy through all the usual bedtime rituals – making her brush her teeth, reading her a bedtime story, and leaving the door open just enough. The cutest part of this book must be when she tells Mummy it’s five minutes till bedtime. Cue to illustration of a harried Mummy still working at her computer, saying “Just five more minutes!”

Bedtime for Mommy is a wonderful book about the loving bedtime rituals we create for our children. This book would also appeal to tired parents the world over, who probably wouldn’t half mind being put to bed by their little ones!

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3. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Best childrens stories for Bedtime - Interrupting ChickenInterrupting Chicken is a sweet and funny book for children that moves between a chicken who can’t stop talking, and the stories his father is trying to read him to get him to go to sleep. Readers get to start three fairytales with the little chicken before he interrupts the story each time… and Papa chicken runs out of stories!

This story is wonderful for children who love to talk through stories, or get so excited that they forget that they’re meant to be getting sleepy. Parents may also wish to roleplay with their reading-aged children, who may delight in taking the role of the over-eager, interrupting chicken.

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4. The Sleep Book by Dr Zeuss

Best childrens books for bedtime - The Sleep Book by Dr ZeussThe Sleep Book is a wonderful classic that begins with the most ingenious first page of all the bedtime books created – a description of a little bug who is yawning, with that yawn spreading across his friends and villages, until they are ‘blooming like roses’ across the world.

Designed to be read in bed, the trademark rhythms of Dr Zeuss, along with his marvellous descriptions of everyone going to bed at that moment (complete with running tallies!) makes The Sleep Book a delight to read and listen to at bedtime. The only challenge? Parents getting through this whole book without yawning themselves!

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5. Goodnight Yoga – A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates, illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder

Best childrens books for going to bed - Goodnight Yoga by Mariam GatesWith a gentle rhythmic repetition of the words as I breathe in, as I breathe out… Goodnight Yoga – A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story takes a child on a gentle pre-bedtime yoga routine designed to stretch out tired muscles after a long day of playing, centering themselves and relaxing themselves before going to bed.

The poses are uncomplicated and brightly illustrated, and have child-friendly names based on animals and bedtime imagery (stars, moons and more…) For children who may find going to sleep difficult after the excitement of a full day, Goodnight Yoga – A Pose by Pose Bedtime Story offers a different method for relaxing your child in the form of a bedtime story.

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6. Goodnight Already by Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies

Best bedtime childrens books for kids - Goodnight Already by Jory JohnA great book for children sharing a room with siblings, or little ones that just can’t stay put even after the whole house has gone to bed, Goodnight Already sees a tired Bear continually woken up by his neighbour Duck, who wants to bake cookies, talk, have pillow fights, or essentially do anything that isn’t sleeping!

Sympathetic children will be able to understand Bear’s mounting frustration as he continually tries to go to bed, only to be woken up by an inquisitive voice or persistent feather. There is plenty of visual humour in this book, and the pacing is light and bright. A sure-fire winner for helping to establish empathic bedtime practices in little ones!

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7. Llama Llama Red Pyjama by Anna Dewdney

Best bedtime books for children - Llama Llama Red Pyjama by Anna DewdneyWith comforting rhymes and bright, sympathetic illustrations, Llama Lllama Red Pyjama lingers on the emotions of a baby Llama who frets when his mother is not nearby at bedtime. Of course she is only on the phone downstairs! But for little Llama, whose active imagination makes him fear the worst, only the return of his Mama can see him delivered to restful dreams.

Llama Llama Red Pyjama is a lovely story for smaller readers who may seek additional comfort and love from parents and caregivers at bedtime. With the story told from the point of view of the anxious Baby Llama, younger readers will empathise with the little Llama, and delight in the affectionate ending.

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8. The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska

Best books for going to bed - The Quiet Book by Deborah UnderwoodThe Quiet Book is a restful story that lulls in repetition, as the child is guided through all the kinds of quiet that exist in the world. It’s a lovely way to get children thinking about the peace and space of silence, and the many ways that silence can permeate situations of significance and ordinary moments.

The climax of the book, of course, are the episodes of quiet that we feel during the lead-up to bedtime, and allow a child to continue the story as he or she falls asleep, into the final quiet of a restful sleep. Accompanied by unique animal-based illustrations, this story contains the elements of the classic, while retaining an individual approach to the usual bedtime story fare.

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9. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by Terry and Eric Fan (the Fan Brothers)

Best kids books for helping go to sleep - The Darkest DarkThis richly illustrated book for older readers examines a little boy’s fear of the dark. In The Darkest Dark, Chris loves making rockets, playing games against invisible Martians, and dreaming about being an astronaut. But when its time for bed, the darkness frightens him, and he finds it difficult to sleep despite his parents words of comfort.

The beauty of this book is in the recognition of ‘the dark’ as a positive space – not an absence of something, but a clustering of mysteries as deep as the universe. The Darkest Dark takes something that children instinctively often fear, and shows it instead as something beautiful, rich and worth exploring.

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10. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

Best childrens books for going to bed - Goodnight MoonGoodnight Moon is rite of passage for bedtime reading, and has been a beloved book in many families for many years. Its vintage illustrations and tones lend an enduring classic quality to the story, which is written for smaller readers.

Effective in its simplicity, it takes little ones on a journey through the nursery and house as they say ‘goodnight’ to each part of their home. It’s a lovely, calm way to get small children into the spirit of bedtime, and participate in their own preparations for sleep.

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Did you like this list? Storyberries also has some great free stories and poems for children about going to bed, including Goodnight Tinku!, The Three Doof Doofs, Can I Sleep In Your Bed Tonight?, Little Tuk and Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash, with thanks.

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