15 Fascinating Bedtime Stories for Babies and Toddlers
Reading bedtime stories to your little fellow is a wonderful way to bond with him. Reading stories to your kiddo can inculcate a love of reading in him and help him understand the language better. When you snuggle up in bed with your toddler and read him a bedtime story, it has a calming effect that lulls your little munchkin to sleep. It is a great idea to use picture books and even books with sound effects, as babies find these books very interesting. If you read bedtime stories to your child, we know as a parent, the bedtime story ritual can become tedious if you narrate the same stories over and over to your kiddo. If you are out of books and stories to narrate to your child, we have something for you. Read these engrossing stories to your child, and watch this become the favourite part of their bedtime routine!
Baby and Toddler Bedtime Stories
Here are 15 of the best bedtime stories for babies and toddlers. These are the most popular bedtime storybooks that will definitely have a calming effect on your baby and soothe him to sleep.
1. Goodnight Moon
This is one of the most popular short bedtime stories that you can read to your toddler. This picture book is written by Margaret Wise Brown and is about a rabbit’s routine before bedtime. The bunny says goodnight to everything around him. Written as a rhyming poem, Goodnight Moon describes how the bunny says goodnight to various inanimate and living objects around him, such as a dollhouse, a red balloon, two kittens, the moon, etc. This is a cute story to read to your toddler to make him sleep.
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This story written by Eric Carle is a well-known storybook. This book has colourful pictures and some pages of books have holes in them, which denote that the caterpillar is eating through various foods. This story is about the lifecycle of a caterpillar; it describes how the caterpillar comes out of the egg and becomes a butterfly. On a Sunday morning, from an egg perched on the leaf, a caterpillar hatches and starts to look for food. He eats a leaf but is not satisfied. He then eats through increasing quantities of various foods for the next five days. On Monday the caterpillar eats through 1 apple, on Tuesday 2 pears, on Wednesday 3 plums, 4 strawberries on Thursday, and 5 oranges on Friday. On Saturday, the caterpillar has an enormous feast of one piece each of chocolate cake, pickle, ice-cream cone, salami, Swiss cheese, lollipop, sausage, cherry pie, cupcake, and watermelon. After this, the caterpillar has a terrible ache in his stomach from eating too much food. He feels much better on Sunday once he returns to his regular diet of a green leaf. Later, he spins a cocoon to wrap himself and remains in it for two weeks. As the two weeks pass, the caterpillar emerges out from the cocoon transformed into a colourful, beautiful butterfly with majestic wings. This book can teach your toddler counting up to five, names of various foods, days of the week, and of course the life cycle of a butterfly.
3. Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book
Dr Seuss’s Sleep Book describes the bedtime routines of different creatures The story of this book starts at the County of Keck, where there is a small bug named Van Vleck who yawns so wide that one can see down his neck. The yawn spreads to some birds who are building their nests to sleep for the night. The story goes on to describe even strange creatures and the weird ways in which they sleep. As the story progresses, it explains about different things that creatures do unintentionally while they are asleep, such as dreaming, snoring, sleep-talking, and sleepwalking. In the end, there is a page in the book which shows sleeping creatures snuggling against each other with their eyes shut and a smile on their faces.
4. Hush Little Baby
This book is written by Sylvia Long and is a modern version of the old bedtime lullaby. The original lullaby has lyrics that promise a child various rewards such as a Mockingbird and a diamond ring if he goes to sleep. The one by Sylvia Long tells the story of a mother bunny that puts her baby bunny to sleep by singing a lullaby. The lullaby is about different wonderful things of nature, such as a flying hummingbird, the evening sky, the call of crickets, a shooting star, and the harvest moon. The book ends with the mama bunny promising the baby bunny a lullaby.
5. The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain
This book contains cheerful and bright pictures. The story is about a caterpillar who is always hungry. The caterpillar is busy crunching and munching on leaves when various flying creatures visit him. He is visited by a bumble bee, a sparrow, and a butterfly. When he expresses his desire to fly like each of them, he is told that he is too large and bulky and has no wings to fly. The caterpillar then wraps himself in a leaf and spins a cocoon around his body. He then naps for a long time. When he wakes up, he stretches himself and discovers that he has become a beautiful butterfly.
6. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
This story is about an ill-tempered ladybug who thinks that she is better than other creatures and refuses to share or say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. The ladybug meets a new animal every hour and tries to pick a fight with each one of them. She first meets a wasp, then a stag beetle, and so on, with the animals getting bigger each time. She finally meets a whale and attempts to get into a fight with it, but the whale slaps the ladybug all the way back to land. The hungry tired ladybug then flies home to her aphid-covered leaf, where another kind ladybug offers to share the aphids with her for dinner. This book is unique as it has the picture of a clock on each page to show the time. In this way, the book teaches kids about telling time, size comparisons, and standing up to the bullies. Read this story to your kiddo if he loves to hear animal stories.
7. Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This book has colourful pictures and it tells the story of a naughty gorilla at a zoo. The book has very few words, but the colourful pictures tell the story in a very playful way. A zookeeper goes for his nighttime rounds and bids goodnight to a lion, a giraffe, and gorilla. However, the mischievous gorilla steals the zookeeper’s keys from his belt and lets all the animals out of their cages. The animals that are freed include a mouse, a lion, a giraffe, an armadillo, and an elephant. The animals follow the zookeeper into his house when he finishes his work and returns home. Finally, Mrs zookeeper takes them all back to the zoo and tells them to stay put. This is a funny animal story and is sure to make your little tot laugh.
8. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
This is a lovely story about a baby racoon named Chester, who is terrified of starting kindergarten the next day and being away from his mom. Chester’s mother comforts him and tells him about all the wonderful things he will see and learn at school. She tells him about how he will learn to read books, get to play with new toys, and make new friends. Chester is still worried about leaving his mother, so she reassures him by telling him about the secret of the ‘kissing hand’. She plants a kiss on Chester’s palm and tells him that whenever he feels lonely or misses her, he should press the hand that she kissed to his cheek and think that his mom loves him. Chester is finally convinced that his mom’s love will stay with him no matter where he goes. Chester then returns the favour by giving his mom a ‘kissing hand’ by kissing her palm. He then goes to school happily.
9. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
In the story, a young bunny admits to his mother that he wants to run away from home. His mother assures him that she will follow him wherever he goes and take whatever form necessary to be near him. It starts off with the bunny saying that he will run away when the mother says she will run after him. The baby bunny then says if she runs after him, he would become a fish in a stream and swim away. The mother says she will then become a fisherman and fish for the bunny. The baby bunny then says that he will become a rock on a high mountain to which the mother replies that she will become a mountain climber and climb up to him. Next, the bunny imagines becoming a crocus in a garden. The mother says that she would become the gardener and find him. This goes on in a similar fashion, and finally, the bunny says he will become a little boy and run into the house. The mama bunny replies that she will then become the little boy’s mother and hug him tightly. The baby bunny then realises that he might as well stay right there with his mom and be her little baby.
10. Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
This is the story of a little monkey trying to find his mother with the help of a butterfly. He tells the butterfly he has lost his mum, and the butterfly says she will help him find his mom. The butterfly then asks the monkey how big his mom is. When the monkey says his mum is bigger than him, the butterfly takes him to an elephant. The monkey then says the elephant is not his mum as she does not have a trunk or tusk or thick knees. He also says that his mum’s tail coils around trees. So the butterfly takes him to a snake. When the monkey says that the snake is not his mum and that his mum has legs. The butterfly then takes him to a spider. The monkey tells the butterfly that the spider is not his mum because his mum lives on the trees. The butterfly then takes him to a parrot. The monkey tells the butterfly that the parrot is not his mum and that his mum can leap and spring. This time, the butterfly takes him to a frog. The story goes on like this. Finally, the monkey tells the butterfly that his mum looks just like him. The butterfly says that she did not know that he would take after his mom as her babies do not look like her. The butterfly then takes the monkey to his mum. The story is fun to read – we are sure your little one will enjoy it.
11. Snoozers: Seven Short Short Bedtime Stories for Lively Little Kids by Sandra Boynton
This book has seven short bedtime stories for young children. These stories are in the form of a poem with rhyming words in them. The names of the different stories are Snoozers, I’m Not Tired, The Big Yawn, Pajamas, Six Sleepy Sheep, Night Sounds, and Silly Lullaby. Snoozers features a pig, a duck, and a dog that talk about how they like to snooze all day in various positions such as horizontal, and upside down. It ends with the animals saying that when night falls, they put on their pyjamas, hug their moms and try to stay awake all night. The second story, I’m Not Tired, is a story about a little bear that hides under a chair to avoid bedtime and tells his parent that he is not tired. He keeps refusing to go to bed even after much cajoling by the parent. Finally, he falls asleep under the chair in his hiding place, and his parents put him back in bed after wishing him sweet dreams. The Big Yawn is a story of a dinosaur called Pteranodon that has a giant yawn. Pyjamas talks about how various animals like chickens, pigs, hippos, lions, rabbits, and moose like to wear their pyjamas. Six Sleepy Sheep counts six sheep one by one and describes the different things each sheep is doing, such as painting the night sky or singing a lullaby. Night Sounds describes the noises of different animals like the tiger, cheetah, crocodile, and elephant make while sleeping at night. The last story is Silly Lullaby which is a song with silly words like ‘Go to sleep, my zoodle; my fibblety fitsy foo’.
12. Oliver Who Would Not Sleep by Mara Bergman
This story is about a boy named Oliver who is not ready to sleep and likes staying awake. After his parents read him a story, kiss him goodnight, and tuck him into bed, he wakes up and bounces out of bed. He then spends time painting, drawing, reading and practising magic. He also plays with his racing cars. He then imagines blasting off in his rocket and seeing rooftops, trees, and houses and cities in the night. His rocket then flies past the stars and the moon and lands on Mars. Oliver stands and stares at all the empty space on Mars. Suddenly a light flashes far away, where he sees his house and longs to go back home. Oliver then gets back into his rocket ship and soars back home through mountains, trees and rooftops once again. Oliver returns home to find his cuddly toys cosy and warm, waiting for him to come to bed. So with a stretch and a big yawn, Oliver finally falls asleep in his bed with his cuddly toys.
13. Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Martin
This wonderful bedtime storybook uses the imagination of the children reading it to drift themselves to sleep. Written in a rhyming format, the story begins with telling children to snuggle into bed and imaging what their dream animal would be. Right from a fox who ushers them into a magical forest to mermaids with whom they can sip tea, a child can conjure up any animal to meet in his dream. Once he reads this book, your child won’t be able to resist early bedtimes where he closes his eyes and dreams of all the possible magical animals in the world.
14. Firefly, Light Up The Sky by Eric Carle
Another amazing children’s book by Eric Carle, this one features a firefly that flies by various night time creatures and casts its glow on them. Armed with a flashlight, children can sit under their blanket and shine the light to reveal all the hidden creatures. The charming rhyme scheme is easy to follow and gives a musical touch to the words. The sound book also features sound effects that add a touch of realism and enhance the reading experience for kids. At the end of the book, the firefly goes off to bed and leaves it to the moon to light up the sky, signalling that it’s time for the child to sleep too.
15. Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
This book is perfect for little ones who stubbornly refuse bedtime every night. It features a pigeon who won’t go to bed, and gives your child the responsibility of making sure he does not dilly-dally. Through the book, the pigeon keeps trying to talk his way out of going to bed but towards the end, he gives up and goes to sleep, which is your child’s cue to sleep too. The pigeon’s antics and dramatic nature makes for an entertaining read, and you’re sure to let out a laugh along with your child. Once your child reads this book, it’s sure to be a regular bedtime story in his routine.
Benefits of Reading Bedtime Stories for Kids
Inculcating a habit of reading bedtime stories in your child will help them in a variety of ways. Soon, your child will love snuggling up every night to read his favourite book. Here are some benefits of reading bedtime stories for kids.
- Reading helps them settle down and relax at the end of the day. They can unwind and slowly drift off to sleep.
- Reading to your child every night will help strengthen his bond with you, as he looks forward to this moment everyday.
- Whether they are listening to you read or are reading themselves, children will pick up the language and add to their vocabulary.
- Reading helps teach kids about the world around them, whether they are places, people, etc.
- Most storybooks require children to use and build on their imagination, which is sure to result in a future passion or hobby.
These are some bedtime stories you should read to your munchkin. If your child wants to have some fun before bedtime, you can make these stories funnier and adventurous. Reading bedtime stories for 2 year olds and 3 year olds with funny voices, impressions, and sounds will make the stories much more enjoyable for the little ones. Reading bedtime stories to your baby or toddler can help create a comforting bedtime ritual for you both and also bring you closer to your baby.
Also Read: Best Story Books for Your Baby’s First Year