A child to whom books are read – and bedtime is the best time for this – learns to love reading. Additionally, studies have shown they may do better in the early school years than their peers who have not had such exposure.
How do you choose the best bedtime story?
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To achieve success in providing a bedtime story you child will enjoy, consider the following:
- What is your child’s age?
Most of the bedtime stories we have listed work for any age. Some (like the board books) are for very young readers. Base your choice on your child’s age and maturity level.
- How long is the book?
You should consider your child’s attention span and how much time you have for reading. Some days are so full, you need something short. Other days you want to get the kids to bed, even though it is early and need a longer story.
- What is the subject matter?
Do you want a funny story, one that teaches a lesson, a picture book, or one with chapters? Answering these questions can guarantee an excellent choice.
- What does your child enjoy?
Your child may love a specific animal, season of the year, or color. Ask your child what they would like you to read about.
Bedtime story telling can help your child prepare for a good night’s sleep. But that is not the only reason to read a bedtime story. Studies have shown the following benefits of reading at bedtime:
- Provides a bonding activity.
Sitting with your child up close and reading their favorite story creates a special feeling of love and acceptance.
- Creates opportunities for conversations.
Your child may open up and tell their own thoughts after the story is read.
- Enhance language and communication skills.
Your child will learn correct pronunciation of words and increase their vocabulary.
- Contributes to brain development.
Studies support the ability of a child’s mind to grasp both concrete and abstract concepts when read to.
- Improves logical thinking.
The cause-and-effect relationships in many children’s books encourages a child to think logically.
- Helps lower stress levels which leads to quicker and better sleep.
A bedtime story can erase any of the day’s conflicts and set the mood for a good night’s sleep.
In this article, we have provided a collection of Bedtime Stories for Kids to meet your needs. We begin with Short Stories for Kids including some information about each collection. Next, we have Cute Bedtime Stories perfect for the end of a full day of fun. Our Quick Bedtime Stories only take a few minutes and work well when you have a time crunch. We end with Happy Bedtime Stories, those old favorites you probably remember from your own childhood and most likely can tell without the aid of a book.
Remember to read your chosen bedtime story before sharing it with your child to consider whether the content is age and situation appropriate.
Note: We have listed only a few anthologies or collections of bedtime short stories. There are many available on-line, some with over three hundred stories. However, many children prefer a book with a single story where they can turn the pages and even help read the words, so that is the concentration of this article.
Short Stories for Kids
In our hectic lives, sometimes we do not have the time to spend with a long bedtime story. Additionally, we may have a child or children who fall asleep very quickly, especially if they have a long day playing outside. Our short stories for kids provide a perfect end to a busy day. We have chosen authors who have more than one story. Not all the stories by some authors are listed, but we have included the most well-known and beloved.
- Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928) by A.A. Milne
Dozens of short stories for kids about Pooh and his friends will keep your child delighted for many nights.
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Your child will enjoy the adventures of Mole, Ratty, and Badger as they try to help Mr. Toad.
- Paul Bunyan by William B. Laughead
A collection of legends featuring Paul, a giant lumberjack of the Pacific Northwest and his blue ox Babe introduces your child to tall tales, the telling of which will span a few weeks.
- Aesop’s Fables
Collections of Aesop’s fables as well as single stories abound, as he wrote 145 fables. You will remember many of them from your own childhood and can probably tell them from memory without the aid of a book, although illustrations add to the enjoyment. Each of his fables teach a lesson and include:
“The Boy Who Cried Wolf”
“The Crow and the Pitcher”
“The Fox and the Grapes”
“The Lion and the Mouse”
“The Tortoise and the Hare”
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Most of us are familiar with Kipling’s The Jungle Book. His Just So Stories were written for younger readers.
“How the Leopard Got His Spots”
“How the Camel Got His Hump”
“How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin”
- Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales
“The Ugly Duckling”
“The Emperor’s New Clothes”
“The Princess and the Pea”
“The Snow Queen”
- The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales
“The Frog Prince”
“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”
“Little Red Riding Hood”
“The Elves and the Shoemaker”
- Famous Stories Every Child Should Know, edited by Hamilton Wright Mable (1907)
A collection of eleven short stories including:
“The Great Stone Face” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“A Child’s Dream of a Star” by Charles Dickens
Cute Bedtime Stories
What makes a bedtime story “cute?” One that generates smiles and giggles, maybe even an outright laugh. Our Cute Bedtime Stories are perfect after a busy and stressful day. They help create a peaceful mind set and lead to pleasant dreams. These stories never grow old and are perfect for any age.
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901) by Beatrix Potter
Begin with Peter’s tale. If your children enjoy it, there are twenty-two additional books, beginning with The Tailor of Gloucester (1903), The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin (1903), and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904).
- Goodnight Corduroy by Don Freeman
Freeman’s collection of books about Corduroy the bear are childhood favorites suitable for every age.
- Richard Scarry’s Bedtime Stories features five animals including Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, and Bananas Gorilla
- Clifford the Small Red Puppy by Norman Bridwell
With eighty (Yes, eighty!) books in the Clifford book series, you will have many nights of fun reading.
- Good Night, Little Bear by Richard Scarry
- Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish
- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
- Llama, Llama, Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
- A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
- If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul
- The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
- Good Night, Little Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
- Curious George by Margret and H. A. Rey and illustrated by Alan Shalleck
- Swimmy by Leo Lionni
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet
- Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest
- Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
- The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan
- My Daddy Snores by Nancy H. Rothstein
- The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and illustrated by Carson Ellis
- Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel
- No More Monsters Under Your Bed by Jordan Chouteau and illustrated by Anat Even Or
- A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
- Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Quick Bedtime Stories
Sometimes what we need is a super quick bedtime story. Our child or children insist on hearing one even though it is well past their bedtime, we are exhausted, and all we want to do is put the little ones down and go to bed ourselves. Our Quick Bedtime Stories take just a few minutes and will satisfy your need to fulfill your child’s desire.
- A Book of Sleep (board book) by Il Sung Na
- Pigs In a Blanket (board book) by Hans Wilhelm with illustrations by Erica Salcedo
- Time for Bed (board book) by Mem Fox with illustrations by Jane Dyer
- The Napping House by Audrey Wood with illustrations by Don Wood
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
- Night Night Jungle by Amy Parker
- Where’s Spot by Eric Hill
- Dr. Seuss Books
Any of his books have awesome bedtime stories for children of any age. Even adults love him, so you will enjoy reading them as much as your children love hearing them. The first few are especially appropriate for bedtime. You can buy a collection of his stories to have many nights of quick reading.
The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book (1962)
Yertle The Turtle and Other Stories (1958)
I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! (1978)
Fox in Socks (1965)
Green Eggs and Ham (1960)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)
Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (1990)
The Cat in the Hat (1957)
- Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer
One hundred and ninety-nine books, including:
Just Me and My Little Sister
This Is My House
Little Sister’s Birthday
Just a Nap
The Fussy Princess
This Is My Friend
• Berenstein Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain (124 books):
Bears in the Night
The Berenstain Bears in the Dark
The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream
Happy Bedtime Stories
Happy bedtime stories lead to smiles, pleasant dreams, and those hugs parents love to receive from their children. We begin with a list of classics we remember from our own childhood – stories told over and over again that never get old and have multiple authored books. Some of these books will provide multiple nights of reading because of their length.
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Three Little Pigs
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Mother Goose Rhymes
“Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”
“Hey, Diddle, Diddle”
“Hickory, Dickory, Dock”
“It’s Raining, It’s Pouring”
“Jack and Jill”
“Jack Be Nimble”
- The Gingerbread Man
- Puss in Boots
- Cinderella by Sarah L. Thomson
- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
- Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
- Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
- The Story of Ferdinand by Munroe Leaf
- Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
- Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
- Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
- Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
- The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson and Garth Williams
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- Little Gold Books series (758 titles) including the favorites:
The Poky Little Puppy
Scuffy the Tugboat
The Saggy Baggy Elephant
Home for a Bunny
The Bunny Book
We Like Kindergarten
You can also create your own bedtime story. Simply use your imagination and start with a familiar opening such as, “Once upon a time . . .,” “Have you heard the story of . . .,” or “There once was a . . .” Many of the books we have listed in this article began as stories the authors told to their own children.
Use our Bedtime Stories for Children anytime you need a good read, at nap time, after dinner, or during a break in a busy day. Enjoy!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.