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10 Best Baby Books for Bedtime (or any time!)

mom and dad reading to their baby

I grew up surrounded by books. So, when I became a mom, one of my nonnegotiables was reading bedtime stories to my kids. It was such an incredible experience that I wanted to share the best baby books we enjoyed as a family. 

I remember the times when I’d doze off before the kids. But most of the time, it was a beautiful moment filled with love and literature. Now that they’re not so little anymore, they still are into reading before bed. It was a habit built on a simple yet meaningful tradition.

Tips to make reading more effective with toddlers.

Kiss Goodnight, Sam

Kiss Good Night book

A Little Something About the Book

The story begins on Plum Street, on a dark and stormy night, as Sam, a little bear, gets ready for bed. You’ll follow his bedtime rituals – from being read to by his mom to snuggling with his favorite stuffed animals. So he drinks his warm milk, and his mom tucks him in. Even after these comforting routines, he can’t quite settle down. There’s one crucial thing lacking. Young readers will eagerly turn the pages, wondering what Sam’s missing piece could be.

Why We Love It

I’ve seen firsthand how this book’s simple storyline and vibrant illustrations kept my kids hooked from page one. The clever use of colors ensured that they followed along easily with the text, making it easier for me during read-aloud sessions. It’s also fun to witness their anticipation growing when they accompany Sam on his nighttime adventure. They saw their bedtime rituals reflected in the story, bringing them familiar warmth and comfort. I also used it as a resource when I discussed routines with my little ones. 

The Going to Bed Book

The Going to Bed Book

A Little Something About the Book

This book is whimsical yet soothing! There’ll be giggles before kids close their eyes for the night, and that’s the best way to end one’s day. You’ll be in the front-row seat to amusing antics as the animals prepare for bedtime. You and your little one will LOL when they don the wrong-sized pajamas and do silly exercises. 

Why We Love It

Like many of Sandra Boynton’s creations, this book is sweet and funny – a combination that always catches a child’s attention. The rhythmic rhymes add to its charm, creating a captivating melody fit for bedtime. Perhaps its most endearing aspect is its invitation for Mom and Dad to join the fun. It creates a sense of closeness and comfort between parent and child.

Good Night, Gorilla

Good Night Gorilla Book

A Little Something About the Book

This book brings readers to a mischievous gorilla’s wild adventure. It all began when it snatched the keys from the zookeeper’s belt, setting off a chain of hilarious escapades. With each “good night”, the animals paraded one by one. They snuck out of their enclosures to join the zookeeper on his journey home. Chaos happens when they all end up at his house! Oh, it was a riot! It’s only when Mrs. Zookeeper intervenes that order is restored, but not without any surprises.

Why We Love It

At first, I was surprised by the scarcity of words. However, I (and many other parents) immediately realized it was a stroke of genius. The minimal text allowed us to immerse ourselves in the story and let our imaginations run wild. It even encouraged kids to create their narratives along the way. Little readers will find endless amusement in the animals’ antics. What truly makes “The Good Night, Gorilla” shine is its versatility as an early reader book. It introduces young readers to basic animal names while sparking curiosity and creativity.

Daddy Hugs

Daddy Hugs Book

A Little Something About the Book

In “Daddy Hugs,” young readers will see a loving interaction between father and daughter as they count their way to ten using various hugs. The Daddy also gave morning snuggles, playful tickles, and squeezes that the baby loved. The combination of vibrant illustrations, patchwork-style designs, and cozy patterns create a mesmerizing journey for every page. Kids and dads alike will have a blast finding the happy little cat that appears throughout the book. It’s another fun element when children eagerly search for the furry friend on each page.

Why We Love It

Beyond its visual appeal, this book offers valuable lessons for young minds. Not only does it teach children how to count to ten in a fun and engaging way, but it also celebrates the special bond between parent and child. Through the loving interactions between Daddy and his daughter, children learn the importance of love, affection, and the joy that comes from spending time with those we hold dear. I remember my girls would beam with delight whenever their dad was on bedtime story duty, and he picked this book. 

Goodnight Moon

Good Night Moon book

A Little Something About the Book

This classic children’s literature shows a little rabbit’s cozy bedroom. You’ll see the grandmother watching over the baby bunny and kittens playing on the rug. Each thoughtful detail adds warmth to this book. Readers will feel safe as she bids goodnight to mundane and magical objects in a soothing cadence. But amidst the peaceful night, there’s whimsy and humor, including funny details, such as the bowl of mush and the quirky objects bidding good night. Its board book version is perfect for small hands waiting to explore the world of reading.

Why We Love It

This classic is still snug on our bookshelf, where I keep most of my kids’ favorite books, which I have collected over the years. It may be a thrift shop find, but it quickly became an essential part of our nightly routine. No matter how often my daughter requested it, it never got old. It was heartwarming to witness her delight as she eagerly anticipated this treasure’s familiar rhymes and gentle verses. Like music to our ears, her sweet voice echoed the words alongside us, creating a symphony that still resonates in our hearts.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? book

A Little Something About the Book

Step into a prehistoric world where bedtime routines have a whole new meaning! In this multi-awarded book, young parents go on a playful journey as they attempt to tuck their little dinosaur darlings into bed. You’ll see mischievous stomping of feet and tail-slapping antics. These dinosaur youngsters may be a handful, but in the end, they behave a lot like people, giving a big kiss, turning out the light, and whispering “good night.”

Why We Love It

It’s not just the dinosaurs that steal the show; it’s the beautiful attention to detail that truly brings this book to life. Each dinosaur species is spelled out in some parts of the bedroom, providing a fun opportunity for children to engage with the text. It also allows them to boost their word recognition skills. Its lilting rhymes and delightful illustrations make it so deserving of its spot on the bestseller’s list.

Llama, Llama Red Pajama

Llama, Llama Red Pajama book

A Little Something About the Book

This heartwarming tale of a Llama’s nighttime drama has captivated readers of all ages. It touches on usual preschooler adventures such as sleepovers at the grandparent’s house or the first day of school. With the release of this board book edition, the infectious rhyming text and expressive artwork are now available to the youngest readers. Children can relate to baby llama’s need for comfort and mama lama’s soothing affirmations.

Why We Love It

This book’s gentle rhythm and vibrant illustrations capture many emotions. The funny rhymes never fail to elicit giggles and gasps as you follow the antics of little Llama and his mama. It also shows the all-too-familiar nighttime scenario of impatience, worry, and fear with authenticity and charm. The adorable paintings of baby Llama in various stages of distress are a perfect match for the story, evoking empathy and understanding in young readers.

Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? 

Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?

A Little Something About the Book

It’s common for little ones to feel anxious and afraid of the dark as the sun sets and bedtime approaches. In this book, you’ll go into the bear cave, where Little Bear struggles to find comfort in the darkness. Big Bear lovingly reassures his child that there is nothing to fear. The illustrations in this book capture nighttime’s beauty with detail and warmth. The soft glow of Big Bear’s lantern and the twinkling stars offer a mesmerizing visual feast for parents and children.

Why We Love It

This adorable children’s book explores the fear of the dark, a topic not always discussed with kids. It addresses this common childhood dilemma with empathy and understanding. As Little Bear struggles to find peace in the darkness, you will remember how a parent’s love and reassurance can help kids overcome things that scare them. Additionally, children learn that it’s better to face their fears rather than ignore them. Lastly, the story’s repetition creates a soothing rhythm that your little ones will love.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

A Little Something About the Book

Get ready for a bedtime battle like no other in this funny book. It brings back the beloved star of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” in another adventure that will leave young readers and parents laughing out loud. As the pajama-clad bus driver hurries away to brush his teeth, readers will have to keep the mischievous pigeon from staying up past his bedtime. A hilarious tug-of-war follows as the bird attempts to talk his way out of sleep with a series of increasingly inventive requests, ranging from scheming to flattering.

Why We Love It

My son is obsessed with “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” so I knew this book would also be a part of our bedtime repertoire. The pigeon’s antics and seemingly innocent retorts always elicited giggles from my young reader. The black-crayon art style may look simple, but it perfectly captures every emotion and nuance of the mischievous bird. Kids will be grinning from ear to ear as they relate to the pigeon’s delaying tactics. I’m sure every kid has stalled bedtime in one way or another.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

A Little Something About the Book

There is always that child who loves tractors, trucks, and backhoes – this book is perfect for them! This book transports them to a world where Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer, and Excavator each complete their tasks and prepare for a well-deserved rest. Children will witness how a team works as each vehicle settles for the night. They’ll also see the value of taking a meaningful rest after working hard the whole day. Whether your little one is a construction fan or wants other characters besides animals, this book will surely become a cherished favorite.

Why We Love It

This bedtime favorite creates a soothing atmosphere ideal for winding down after a day of play – thanks to its rhythmic text and captivating illustrations. As the characters in the story prepare to rest, your little ones can feel the calming effect wash over them. Before you know it, your once active tot drifts to Slumberland. This New York Times Bestseller is also a great learning opportunity for children with a fascination with construction vehicles. Each character has a specific job to do, and young readers will learn the names and functions of each vehicle in a fun and engaging way.

Why Reading Rocks!

Reading aloud to kids has benefits that extend far beyond simply enjoying a good story. Check out why:

Expanding Vocabulary

Reading aloud lays the groundwork for language development. Even before babies can say their first words, they absorb word rhythms as you share stories with them. This early exposure plays a huge role in enriching their vocabulary and honing their comprehension.

Building Bonds

Reading to your baby forges bonds and fosters intimacy. Your children will forever cherish the moments you share stories while cocooned in a blanket. When I ask my kids about their favorite childhood memories, our read-aloud sessions go on top of their list.

Igniting Imagination

A read-aloud session is an ingredient for imagination and creativity. It is your ally towards a child’s cognitive development. Through engaging stories, children learn to think outside the box and solve problems ingeniously.

Providing Comfort

Sharing a heartwarming story with your kids can be calming. It offers respite amid the harried pace of daily life. These quiet moments where dishes, laundry, and Zoom meetings do not exist create strong emotional bonds. They also strengthen a child’s sense of security and belongingness. It is definitely love in literature.

Elevate Your Bedtime Routine with a Good Book

The stories in this list have found a special place in my heart and on our shelves. I’m sure one (or all of them) will find its way into your homes, too. These timeless classics and modern favorites can captivate young minds, ignite imaginations, and create cherished moments.

Do you have a favorite book that’s part of your bedtime story rotation? Please share them in the comment box below. I invite you to exchange recommendations for tales that have brought magic and joy to our own families. Let’s spread the love of reading one funny or heartwarming children’s book at a time.

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