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10 Bedtime Stories for Children That Have Stood the Test of Time

Our favourite bedtime stories for 0 – 12 year olds – an overview of each story to help you decide if it’s a good choice for your young story lovers!

‘Goodnight Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd


If you’ve ever been a parent, or you remember much of your childhood, you can probably still recite bits of this famously calming bedtime story about a little bunny saying goodnight to the rhyming objects in his room — the moon, the spoon, the brush, the bowl of mush, and the cow jumping over the moon. The illustrations are, of course, classics. (1 to 3 years). Buy Goodnight Moon here.

‘Llama, Llama, Red Pajama’ by Anna Dewdney


It’s Baby Llama’s bedtime, but he’s not quite ready to part with his mama. He worries and wonders where she’s gone, until she returns to reassure him that she’s “always near, even if she’s not right here.” This comforting message is just what many kids need before the lights go out. (3 to 6 years). Buy Llama, Llama, Red Pajama here.

‘Counting Kisses’ by Karen Katz


‘Counting Kisses’ is a fun bedtime story that is sure to have a child falling asleep to sweet dreams. This bedtime story is written for children between the ages of 1-5, and it is one that is an instant favourite among both parents and children. This adorable story begins with the counting of 10 kisses placed on the toes and continues until the kisses reach the child’s face. The story is presented in such a way that helps even the fussiest child’s mood brighten. Falling asleep has never felt so snuggly. (1 to 5 years). Buy Counting Kisses here.

‘The Going to Bed Book’ by Sandra Boynton


This particular bedtime story is for children between the ages of 0-5 and is about how animals on an ark take care of all the necessary pre-bedtime rituals like brushing their teeth and saying good night. It is a fun read that helps children remember all the things to do before going to sleep without making these things seem like chores. (0 to 5 years). Buy The Going To Bed book here.

‘I Need My Monster’ by Amanda Noll and Howard McWilliam


If a child has ever been afraid to go to sleep because of the fear of monsters, this is no longer a problem after hearing this wonderful bedtime story, ‘I Need My Monster.’ This book is ideal for children between the ages of 4 to 8, as it puts a twist on the common fear of a monster being under the bed where the monster is actually a friend that the child misses and realises he cannot go to sleep without. This book is perfect for those children who are afraid of the dark and what might be hiding under their beds. (5 to 8 years). Buy I Need My Monster here.

Dr. Seuss’s ‘Sleep Book’


The Country of Keck has one very sleepy resident – he’s yawning so wide you can look down his neck! Complete with the rhythm and rhyme that is the hallmark of any Dr. Seuss book, this one is designed to deliberately leave your child yawning. Crazy characters and delightful illustrations encourage imagination, sleepy thoughts, and will almost guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep full of zany, Zizzer-Zoof dreams. (5 to 9 years). Buy Sleep Book here.

‘No More Yawning’ by Paeony Lewis


Seven o’clock: Time for Florence and her plush pal Arnold to hit the hay. Florence must be tired — her yawns are getting BIGGER by the minute. But neither little girl nor toy monkey can possibly go to bed. Not now. Not when there are good-night kisses to give and lullabies to sing and stories to tell and sheep to count! These two are driving Mom BANANAS with their stay-awake shenanigans, and soon she’s yawning, too. A story as infectious as yawning — with a bonus section of sleep tips! (3 to 8 years). Buy No More Yawning here.

‘Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early’ by Erica S. Perl


Cheerful and observant, this rhyming story mirrors the bedtime rituals of children – brushing teeth, begging for a story, needing just one more glass of water – in the antics of a group of appealing young farm animals. We see bunnies gathered in footy pyjamas for a bedtime story, chickens flossing their “teeth”, and frogs singing lullabies. It’s clever twist on a traditional bedtime book. Clock faces are hidden throughout the scenes, giving youngsters a chance to brush up on the search and time-telling skills. (4 to 8 years). Buy Chicken Bedtime Is Really Early here.

‘Good Night, Alfie Atkins’ by Gunilla Bergstrom

good night alfie atkins

An irresistible father-and-son team! Meet Alfie Atkins. Like all four-year-olds, sometimes he is stubborn. Tonight he doesn’t want to go to bed. Lucky for him, Daddy is being especially nice — taking care of all of Alfie’s bedtime needs. But Alfie won’t sleep, and it isn’t long before he succeeds in tiring poor Daddy. (9 to 12 years). Buy Goodnight Alfie Atkins here.

‘Time for Bed’ by Mem Fox


Darkness is falling everywhere and little animals are getting sleepy, feeling cozy, and being tucked in for the night. It’s time for a wide yawn, a big hug, and a snuggle down under the covers. Dyer’s lovely illustrations work in tandem with Fox’s soothing text to “convey a warm feeling of safety and affection.” (5 to 7 years). Buy Time For Bed here.

Bedtime stories for children

Does your family have any particular bedtime stories that are always a hit? We’d love to hear your responses so we can grow our list even further. Feel free to share your favourite bedtime stories in the comments, and for further early childhood reading, check out these classic books for toddlers.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

2 thoughts on “10 Bedtime Stories for Children That Have Stood the Test of Time”

  1. I read to my kids constantly, at bedtime and all other times. Yet I have only read 1 of the 10 books on your list. I am going to get the other 9 to read to them. Love books. You can never read too many!

  2. It’s so great to see ‘Goodnight Moon’ at the top of your list. It has always been a favorite of mine. This list has a few bedtime stories I’ve never heard of before too. I’m going to order ‘The Going to Bed Book’. Looks cute!


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