Nothing brings up warm feelings than taking a trip down the memory lane, back to the time when you were a kid snuggled up in your blanket while your mom or dad, read you your favorite bedtime story. Then in dreams, you would travel to far away land where mysterious creatures exist and where anything is possible.
This simple act can really make the bond between parents and children stronger. But does it have any other positive effects?
Studies have shown that reading before sleep has an impact on their cognitive abilities as well as on their sleep routine. In addition, it helps them to develop an emotional kind of connection to the reading as well as higher literacy ability.
These days we have age restrictions for things like movies TV shows etc. But, reading bedtime stories to kids isn’t one of them. That means there is no such thing as too old or young for bedtime reading. Many psychologists highly recommend to parents to read to their newborns, even though they don’t understand the meaning of the words they will recognize the rhythm and the sound that can reflect the emotion behind the word you pronounce not to mention the exposure of colorful visuals that they will be able to recognize as they grow. The sooner you begin, the more positive impact it will have on your child. Naturally, choose an age-appropriate book is necessary to achieve that.
For young kids to kindergarteners, it will be more useful to read books that contain more illustrations and simple sentence vocabulary, and as they advance from preschool to elementary level and are able to read themselves, chapters books will be more practical and effective.
You can also try these helpful tips.
- Pay attention to your speed – It is really important to read slowly, especially if children are young and don’t forget to explain the unknown words during reading.
- Be interactive – Feel free to engage your child while you’re reading. You can do that by changing the name of the character with your child’s name, to make them feel like they are a part of the bedtime story. Also, it is very useful to draw comparisons between the situation in the story and day to day life to help them learn valuable life lessons in a fun way.
- Dramatic reading is more than welcome – Being dramatic in everyday life can’t do you any good, but in case of reading, it actually can. When you use different voices for each character and tones to accentuate the situations, you will boost your child’s imagination and their importance in the story.
- Explain the roles of the characters in the story – When you set a clear difference between heroes and villains, your kids will understand what it means to do right or wrong. This will help them develop powers of discernment.
- Re-read the story – Just as adults need to read more than one time to remember or understand something better, children function in the same way. It might be hard for them to remember everything during the start of the bedtime reading session, maybe the story has many details, so it might be a good idea to read the story on continuously.
- Change stories from time to time – Although it’s recommended to re-read the story, I would not be a good idea always to read the same story. After a while, the child will already remember the story by heart, so their imaginative skills will not continue to improve since there is no challenge, nothing new to spice it up. Usually, kids have their favorite one that they want to hear all the time, so this might be a challenge. Here is an idea that you can try out if they persist. Suggest that this night you will read something new and the night after you will read the one that is preferred.
- Improvise – That might sound scary, I know, but you don’t have to make up the whole story. You can add some new details to existing one, to make your child more involved. If you need help, just search effective story starters in your search engines to get you more motivated.
Now that we covered the technique topic, let’s check out reviews about the most cherished tales of all times. It includes a list aimed for different age groups and stories that you can find printed or online.
The first list is print only.
From Birth to Age 4
Keth Baker’s Big Fat Hen story – is a very cheerful and fun nursery rhyme containing bright and colorful illustrations that are designed to help your young ones count in no time with the help of hen and her eggs-soon-to-be-chicks.
Denise Fleming’s The Everything storybook – is a fun jumble of basic concepts like color, shape, numbers, poems but the real star of the book is the hand-cut stencils that are filled with cotton fiber that is colored. What is unique about it is that the structure is sparse, so readers have space to create their own stories. The words are simple, and the illustrations are big and colorful, your kids will love it. Even you as a parent would love to frame those pictures.
Bill Martin Junior’s and John Archambault’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – is focused on helping your kids learn the alphabet. It is an interesting story from 1989 that is about lower-case letters who, in alphabetical order, climb a coconut tree until it bends too much, causing all letters to tumble down the tree and it also describes injuries in alphabetical order with illustrations made by Lois Ehlert, making it very easy and fun for kids to learn.
Todd Parr’s Otto goes to bed story – It’s bedtime, but your kids don’t want to sleep? Tale of Otto might be interesting for them. It’s about a dog, Otto, who can’t seem to go to sleep but he has to even if he doesn’t want to. It has been a favorite among toddlers with its funky and colorful illustrations.
Sandra Boynton’s Pajama Time! – is a witty classic that both kids and adults love, here is why. This book shows the importance of bedtime in a fun way with the help of pig that’s on a swing and a chicken that jumps the rope. Don’t forget to sing along to Jamma Jamma PJ, because it’s time to go bed with style.
Vera Williams’s More More More Said the Baby Story – depicts three adorable toddlers and a day in their life. You and your kids will rejoice when you see adorable drawings of kids running around and giggling while parents scoop them and shower them with hugs and kisses preparing them for bedtime. Besides the irresistible illustrations, it also sends a friendly ethnical diversity message.
Sam McBratney’s and Anita Jeram’s Guess How Much I Love You book – contains four sequels and is about a small hare that is brown and his daddy, hopping and showing their love for each other. It will give you so much ‘aww’ feelings.
P.D. Eastman’s Are you my mother? – is an all-time favorite for bedtime since 1960. It is a story of a young baby bird in quest of finding his mama who went to search for food thinking the egg won’t hatch so soon. The book is filled with humorous adventure that kids enjoy.
Peggy Rathmann’s Good Night, Gorilla – is a funny story of one gorilla that decided to sneak along with zookeeper. It contains verses that are easy to remember and cheerful illustrations. So, join him to see who will have the last laugh in this goodnight escapade.
Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon – is a children’s classic, about a bunny who says goodnight to everything in his little room. The perfect book to end the day, with its soothing narrative and illustrations. It also contains a 3D interpretation on YouTube.
Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar – is book loved generation after generation, since 1969. It is about a hungry caterpillar that eats its way to the time until he becomes a handsome butterfly. The reason it is an all-time favorite is that the illustrations are made of collage with cutouts that give readers opportunity to be involved and the simple text that teaches kids butterflies life stages, counting, foods and days of the week.
Dr. Seuss’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish – is a book that has been teaching kids counting and colors for over 50 years and they love it. It is a simple rhyme book following a girl and a boy that make friendships with interesting creatures and pets.
Don Freeman’s Corduroy – is a story loved by youngsters about a teddy bear in search of a button. Why? A girl named Lisa saw him in the department store and wanted to buy him, but her mother refused to pay for a toy that is even missing a button. So, the little teddy Corduroy decides to take a trip around the store to search for his button and finds himself in places he has never seen before. What happens next? Read it to find out.
Eric Hill’s Where’s Spot? – is a picture flap book that engages readers to find the Spot as he hides around in the house. Kids will encounter familiar situations, environments, and objects as they search for this adorable dog. The favorite story since its first publishing in 1980 later turned into animation in 1987-2000.
Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day – A book where everything is possible. The adorable old fashioned illustrations are about a little boy and his adventures on a snowy day in the city. It perfectly depicts the wonders and pleasures that await kids as they enter the world covered in snow.
H.A. Rey and Margret Rey’s The Complete Adventures of Curious George – is a story about one monkey and Yellow Hat Man, his keeper. The classic but unique character illustrations and the cheerful storyline keeps youngster entertained. It contains seven sequels.
Susan Marie Swanson’s The House in the Night – is a book that features B&W illustrations with verses that are dreamy, to emphasize how a house at night turns to a real home exploring the nighttime things that are comforting and interesting to kids, making them sleepy quickly.
Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington series – The chronicle of 20 books follows a story of a teddy that was abandoned on a station and his adventures as he takes trips all around the world. His first stop is London platform where he meets the lovely couple, Mr. and Mrs. Brown. A classic that will keep your kids entertained for a long time.
Laura Joffe Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – This clever and cute illustrations follow the legendary ’what if’ situations especially when you feed and uninvited guest. Delightful storytelling will keep smiling faces on your youngest readers.
Arnold Lobel’s The Frog and Toad volumes – are great stories about what true friendship is about. Also, each book contains fun adventures of two little amphibians that teach kids about self-discipline, the importance of diligence, sharing etc. With vibrant illustrations.
Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham – This book is a perfect introduction to the peculiar world of legendary Dr. Seuss. It follows the adventures of Sam-I-am as he discovers where and with who he should enjoy this treat and every time the list gets longer. Kids will enjoy simple words and interesting illustrations that give hints of their meaning.
Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat – Also one of legendary Dr. Seuss books, that follows a story of two kids who encounter a peculiar cat with even more peculiar hat. Ever since 1957, it was and still is a hit among kids, printed around 10 million copies and translated to many different languages, changing the way they learn how to read.
Thomas Aquinas Maguire’s Three Little Dreams – is about a fantastic trio of a boy on top of a dragon a star that is magical and a birdy flying paper plane. With his unique illustrations, your kids will enter a special kind of fantasy.
Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever – Wonderful affirmation of how much parents love their kids with adorable pastel that complement the sentimentality of this kind of story. It won’t leave you indifferent.
Shelley Moore Thomas’s Good Night, Good Knight – this story follows the adventure of a knight that is on his watch when he discovers three dragons getting ready for bed. Youngsters will fall under Good Knights spell as much as the dragons did. After this one, other tales of knights slaying dragons will fall flat.
Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Let’s make the holiday spirit even jollier with our favorite Dr. Seuss story that teaches valuable lessons about feeling like you belonging somewhere, how important family is and community. Kids will fear and adore this kind of interesting character.
For Readers Ages 4 to 6
A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner – are the all-time favorite classic for kids and adults ever since their first publishing in the 1920s. The story follows Christopher Robin, the cutest, Winnie the Pooh, bear who is always craving for honey and the rest of the animal gang as they go on their adventures.
Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree – is a touching story about a boy, his tree and the flow of their relationship. Since 1964, it teaches kids (and adults) the value of the wonderful gift called -giving- and acceptance of other person capacities to, in return, show love.
Shaun Tan’s The arrival – is a touching and heartbreaking story of an old man saying goodbye to his family as he sets off to create a better future for them across the ocean. Readers will be able to experience his joy and solitude through the story followed up by mesmerizing yet clear illustrations. Since the main character can’t speak the book refrains from using words as well. Great for teaching kids about tolerance.
Marc Brown’s Arthur Adventure Book Series – Entertaining kids since the middle of the 70s, with the tales of young Arthur, an aardvark with glasses, that attends school and his friends too. These chronicles depict the struggle that kids face nowadays with it’s fun and cheerful illustrations.
Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus Book series – are innovative and playful book series that follow Ms. Frizzle, the teacher of science, that has a teaching style you’ve never seen before, and her students on wild and educational adventures. One of the most memorable trips was the one deep down the core of the earth and one where they explored how the human body works. Ms. Frizzle will become your kids’ favorite teacher.
Berenstain’s The Berenstain Bears book series – Since 1960s kids enjoyed reading about the family of Berenstain bears as they go on various adventures and facing ordinary, kind of funny, family problems along the way. Kids will learn how to solve issues in a very friendly way with the help of interesting plotlines and adorable illustrations.
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are – is an exciting story about a boy named Max who was one night sent to his bed without his dinner because he made trouble. That night strange things started to happen, a forest began to grow in his room with ocean waves bringing a boat to take him where the wild things are. He begins to meet interesting creatures. A very imaginative story that will awake imagination in kids dreams.
Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who! – is a lovely story about an elephant who hears a who, that is an odd noise coming from a tiny speck of dust. The story teaches kids how important it is to be kind, empathic and emphasizes the concept of community.
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax – is a book that emphasizes the dangers of urbanization and deforestation. The small mustache creature called Lorax invites kids to join him as he warns people about the dangers of destroying natural beauty. Kids will learn the importance of the environment around them and how to treasure it.
Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go – is a story loved by both kids and adults because it explains a journey of adulthood. With its pictures and verses filled with humor, it talks about the ups and downs that life itself present to us but more importantly it encourages us never to give up and to find the success that has been inside of us the whole time.
For Readers Ages 7 and Up
Shel Silverstein’s peculiar poetry is a great delight for kids because it’s profound and extremely funny at the same time including the creative drawings to support it.
Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows – The classic series follows adventures, or we might say misadventures of Mr. Mole, Ratty and Toad and other residents of Thames Valley. This book depicts the real value of friendship, and the pictures will warm kids’ hearts (yours too, because we always stay kids in our hearts) as they grow. The Wind in the Willows book also inspired a few stage and movie adaptations.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass – Our beloved Alice and her encounters with the White rabbit, Mad Hatter and the rest of the peculiar gang has been capturing attention and inspiring kids to dream and use their imagination for over 100 years and memorable illustrations to make those stories come to life. These series show that with imagination nothing is impossible.
Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach – is a story of a young James and mishap magic crystals and the peach tree. As the peach tree, influenced by the crystals, start to grow and grow even stranger things begin to happen, but the real adventure begins when he finds a secret entrance inside of the tree. Kids will love the wild imagination that this book brings.
Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – is a very funny and charming story of a young boy who experiences a very hard day, nothing seemed right from the moment when he woke up finding gum in his hair. However, the book ends on a positive note, teaching kids and reminding adults that it is never good to dwell on bad things that happen, rather than that to be happy with what you already have.
Harry Allard’s Miss Nelson is Missing! – is a quirky classic that teaches kids what happens when you misbehave. The class 207 was always up to trouble so one day when a strict substitute teacher came instead of their Miss Nelson, they begin to realize that their ways were not very good and they start to regret it. The full colored cartoon-style like illustrations and interesting yet serious storyline gives kids a good laugh while teaching them the importance of good behavior.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda – is a story of a girl that’s anything but ordinary. We might even say that she is a prodigy child since she is five and a half and already reading Dickens. Even though everyone loves her, is far from perfect. Since her parents neglect her and scold her all the time, she decides to do prank jokes. In the meantime, she discovers that she has a superpower. Kids of all ages because of unexpected plot twists full of imagination.
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Follows five lucky winners to the famous Chocolate Factory. Charlie, our hero of the story, will teach kids the importance of kindness, diligence, and honesty as he goes through enchanting Wonka Land with an enigmatic and peculiar host. You might want to save some sweet treats for the kids after you finish reading it.
E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web – is a touching tale of love, friendship, and death for all generations. It tells the story of a friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. The story gets interesting when Wilber realizes he is being raised to get slaughtered, so Charlotte promises him that she will help him. Brace yourself for a lot of feelings and few tissues will be involved as well.
Johanna Spyri’s Heidi – tells a story of a young orphan girl from Switzerland who has to live with her cranky grandfather, because of the evident intelligence she was sent to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy family as a companion of a girl who has a disability. This story will help your kids understand how to love and show love, also how to make strong friendships.
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women – is a memorable and all-time favorite of both males and females. It is a story of March sisters and how they struggle to survive the Civil War in New England. So many characters that are unique it is hard not to love them. Since this does contain prose that is old fashioned it will be a bit hard for younger readers, we recommend it to readers who are eight and up.
Beverly Cleary’s Ramona – is a fantastic story of a little girl Ramona and her older sister Beezus. Ramona is not a typical four-year-old. She is always up to trouble, like secretly inviting other kids to her party or taking one bite from each apple in the box. Anyone who has siblings will relate to this, and it teaches kids of the unbreakable and special bond that siblings have.
Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie – is a cherished classic that follows a girl called Opal and how she made an unusual friendship with a dog with a great sense of humor that she named Winn Dixie. Together with Winn Dixie, she meets interesting people, and it’s all because of Winn Dixie. Why? Read to find out.
Judy Blume’s Fudge book series – tell a tale of a four-year-old Fudge who always gets his big brother Peter in trouble. Peter is sick of it, and he wants to bring attention to his parents about that, but how?
Adorable Classics that Will Make You Laugh and Think at the Same Time
Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty – is a touching story of a beautiful horse in search of his home. It is written in the point of view of a horse who has seen riches and poverty, hardships and friendships. When will he ever find a place that he will call home? This novel inspires readers to think about animal welfare and how much that is important.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House on the Prairie book series – is about a family who travels in a wagon in search of a perfect place to build their home. This 19th-century tale enchants everyone who reads it due to the stories that are depicted so vividly almost like you are with them on their quest. It is an excellent opportunity for parents to draw resemblance of the past events and the present ones.
Donald J. Sobol’s The Encyclopedia Brown book series – is about a boy detective with computer-like brain that is trying to solve cases of missing roller skates, an eyewitness that was blind and other ridiculous stuff. Each chapter will provide an answer that is hidden, so it is a great chance to test your thinking ability and join him to crack these neighborhood cases.
Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting – is about a family that accidentally drinks water from magic spring and then on their luck or not that big of luck they become immortal, so they are trying their best to live their life as unsuspiciously as possible until they meet Winnie Foster. A tale about acceptance and secrets your kids will find magical.
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden – a longer tale of mysteries that one encounters as she moves in with her uncle who will take care of her, after the tragic death of her parents who were not very good people, to begin with. After a while she that the house along with a secret garden contains many mysteries. A charming story that teaches kids of kindness and compassion.
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time Quartet – a sci-fi chronicles of a girl and her brother in search of their father after he is gone missing due to experiments with time travel. It will make your kids look at the world through different eyes.
Online Stories for Kids
Some of them are text only, and others are made as an animation.
For Newborns to Age 3
Joshua Morgan, Nathalie Koenig, and Lee-Ann Knowles’s Clever Pig – follows a small clever pig that is searching for its favorite bedtime snack – carrot. Your little ones will love the illustrations that depict a fun story.
Kevin Henkes’s Kitten’s First Full Moon – Adorable pencil shade character illustrations will make you watch this video over and over again. Available on YouTube.
Lauren Holliday and Nathalie Koenig’s Londi the Dreaming Girl – is an imaginative tale of family and friendship featuring a little girl named London that wonders about strange things of the universe while she is on her way to get water.
Melissa Fagan, Lauren Nel and Stefania Origgi’s The Best Thing Ever – is a charming story illustrating a cute boy who is determined to create something that would be amazing, he will steal your heart away.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea – a beloved classic made in Denmark about one prince who is trying to find a real princess to marry.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling – inspiring story that will teach little ones the importance of acceptance and self-confidence. It follows one poor duckling that is tormented for being different but naturally, there is a plot twist to this story.
Lili Probart, Jon Keevy, and Chani Coetzee’s Little Sock and the Tiny Creatures – This illustrated adventure tells a story of one little sock that gets lost and tries to find its way to the laundry box with some help.
The Story of an Owl and a Lion – is about a lion that is mean to everyone in the jungle and an owl that decides to do something about it. Kids will learn what it means to be kind and tolerant.
The Story of the Giant Turnip – is about one farmer and his family, who is trying hard to grow a huge turnip and then the effort to pull it out.
The Story of Nighty Night Circus – popular night time story followed cute animals that are preparing for bed. Kids will love this video that is lively and without text.
For Readers Ages from Four to Six
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Escape at Bedtime – tells a story of kids who decide to escape bedtime and find a mysterious and world filled with magic in the backyard garden.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Three Golden Apples – Greek mythology inspired kids’ version of Hercules on a quest to get to the garden of Hesperides and save three golden apples.
The Story of Three Little Pigs – is just about that. Three little pigs try their best to be independent and to build the best house and a mean wolf that wants to destroy it and eat them.
Charles Perrault’s Riquet with the Tuft – Originally a French tale, this adapted version is about beauty and wit, with the help of magic to make everything possible.
The Story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp – is an Arabian night’s collection classic that follows the life of a young man who is a beggar and how his luck overturned when he finds a lamp that is everything but ordinary.
The Story of Pied Piper of Hamelin – is an iconic tale of a man with the magic flute who helps people of Hamlin to resolve their mice problem.
The Story of Little Red Riding Hood – is one of the famous classics that teach about survival. A young girl on her way to grandma’s house and a wolf that is cunning and hungry. Who will outsmart who?
Noni’s The Moon and the Cap – a fun tale of a boy in search of his cap and finding it in places he would never expect to see.
Searching for the Spirit of Spring Story – An African tale inspired, hopes to move its readers to show generosity and kindness.
The Brothers Grimm’s The Fisherman and His Wife – teaches kids what happens when you’re greedy like the fisherman and wife were after they find a talking fish.
Uma Bala Devarakonda’s Down the Memory Lane with Nash – is a beautiful tale of tradition and family as a young boy and dog discover the childhood of his grandma.
Sam Wilson’s The Elephant in the Room – is a story with striking visuals that follows Lindi and her friend, a huge elephant that is real. Or is it?
Shelley Duvall’s stories for bedtime – Ever since 1992 it has been charming her audience of all ages.
Arthur Scott Bailey’s The Nestlings – is about Jolly Robin who has to leave the nest. This is a story that will warm your heart and teach you about love and survival. Featuring some illustrations from original 1917 edition.
For Readers 7 and Up
Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense – is a collection of absurd yet brilliant drawings and poetry made solely by Edward Lear. It will inspire kids to let their imagination run wild.
The Story of East of the Sun and West of the Moon – is inspired by Norwegian tale where princesses, talking bears, and trolls exist. The best way for kids to experience a new culture.
Aesop’s The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse – Classic fable that follows the lives of two mice in a city and the experiences they have. This adaptation has a colorful twist to it.
Stephan Smith’s Dreamlands Bedtime Book – inspires readers to enter a magical dreamland where even oranges need to go to bed to sleep and flowers are so tall almost like skyscrapers.
Melissa Fagan’s Graça’s Dream – is about Graça who is living in a little village in Mozambique and trying to bring literacy there. It’s a story of hard work and tolerance.
Katharine Pyle’s The Stones of Plouvenic – is also an adaptation from French traditional tale that teaches kids to seek treasures in the unexpected places.
Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit – is a classic critter story that dates back to 1902 with interesting illustrations to go with.
Hamilton Wright Mabie, Edward Everett Hale and William Byron Forbush’s The White Stone Canoe – Is a story of a Native American man who is a chief in search of his love in the afterlife.
Gordon Dioxide’s Children’s Bedtime Stories – is a unique collection that Only G. Dioxide can create. They cannot be summarized they have to be read.
Ashish Kothari’s Wildlife in a City Pond – is an eco-conscious tale about a boy who is exploring fauna and flora in a nearby park.
Jade Matre’s The Dragon’s Eggs – is a story that follows a little boy who searches through a castle that is abandoned for an egg of a dragon and in prosses learn a lesson about the importance of preservation.
Edith Nesbit’s Island of the Nine Whirlpools – famous children author never fails, with her fairytale that has everything from wicked witches to heroes rescuing a damsel in distress, preferably in a magic castle.
We hope that these recommendations made your bedtime or nap time more enjoyable and dreamier with your little ones!
A fashion designer by profession, writer by choice and bookworm – always. As a person struggling with anxiety for years and someone who loves to sleep, I can relate to the struggles of getting a good night’s rest. When I’m not doing sleep research, I enjoy reading books, being involved in creative activities and discovering the best use of my Moka pot.