5 brilliant bedtime books for toddlers and preschoolers

It’s Bedtime… that longed-for (by parents), dreaded (again by parents!), much-avoided (by kids) time of day.  Is there anything more exhausting than trying to get a suddenly hyperactive small child to go to bed?

So we all know that reading a bedtime story is an important part of a bedtime routine.  I may not be the best person to talk about routines here, and I may, on more than one occasion (okay, quite often), have fallen asleep while in the middle of reading a bedtime story (to be rudely awakened by a sharp cry of “Mummy! Wake up!”), but we do enjoy a good bedtime story.  Although why do they have a more soporific effect on me than on her?

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


Perhaps any book could be a bedtime book, but the books I've chosen here are specifically about bedtime as well as for bedtime.

If you really want to get your toddler or preschooler in the mood for settling into bed these books are ideal.

All five of these books were given to Emma by her grandparents or aunties and all opinions are our own.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com which means I make a small commission on purchases made from these links.  Click on the book cover image to go to the Amazon link.

The Magic Castle
by Stella Farris




Of the five books I've chosen here, The Magic Castle is the one with the most excitement, and maybe even slightly scary elements, although the ending is delightfully comforting.

Because it is a pop-up book with some delicate parts, it needs to be handled with slightly more care.  That doesn't mean you can't read it with a toddler, I used to read it with Emma when she was two, but with careful supervision.

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


The story is about a boy who dreams one night that he is in a magic castle.  With each turn of the page he enters a new room and in each room up pops a bigger and scarier creature than in the previous room.  The boy tries to be brave and keeps going until he reaches the last room where there is a cute surprise waiting for him.

The Magic Castle is a classic, my sister had this book when she was little and then our youngest sister inherited it.  She was the one who gave this book to Emma, as she had enjoyed it so much.


Goodnight Harry
by Kim Lewis




This is a lovely and sweet story about a cuddly toy elephant, Harry, who can't get to sleep.  He tries everything – reading a story, exercising, tidying up, lying on his back, lying on his tummy – but sleep never comes to Harry.  Eventually he accidentally pulls the covers off his friends, Ted (a teddy bear) and Lulu (a cuddly lamb), waking them up.  They are sympathetic to Harry’s problem and sit with him looking out of the window together.

Harry is soon fast asleep himself.

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


The illustrations are gorgeous and make everything look soft and muted.  The cuddly toys especially look like they have a soft furry texture.

Everything about this book is calming and comforting, making it absolutely ideal for bedtime reading for little ones.


Elmer and the Lost Teddy
by David McKee




Elmer the patchwork elephant is well-known and well-loved character for many.  Here he comes to the rescue when baby elephant loses his teddy which he can't get to sleep without.  Elmer generously lends baby elephant his own (patchwork) teddy and sets out to find the lost teddy.  Along the way he comes across all the other baby animals, all sleeping contentedly with their own teddies and we see how essential teddies are to all of the baby animals.

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


It's a very cute story with characteristically colourful illustration and a message of generosity and helping others.


Goodnight Tiptoe
by Polly Dunbar




This is one of a series of books, each featuring one of the characters who all live together in a little yellow house.  Apparently, the setting was inspired by the author’s own experiences of sharing a house with friends.  The characters are a little girl called Tilly, Hector, a red cowboy boot- wearing pig, a very lady-like hen called Pru, Tumpty the Elephant, Doodle the dinosaur and finally Tiptoe, a rabbit in a stripy onesie.  The motherly Tilly is helping all her friends get ready for bed, but cheeky Tiptoe just won't settle down, insists he is not sleepy and does everything possible to put off going to bed.  Does this remind you of anyone?!

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


I think part of the charm of this story is that each of the characters is so well-defined that they do remind you a bit of people you know.  Tiptoe is funny in his antics to avoid going to sleep and the story and characters are so endearing you can’t help but love them.


Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Illustrated by Yu-hsuan Huang




This is a beautiful board book with moving parts on each page.  The text is the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and inside the cover is a QR code which takes you to an audio recording of the song.  You could listen at the same time as looking at the book, but then you would have to go back and start the book again, taking your time on each page to spot all the little details in the illustrations.

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


The real story in this book is told more in the illustrations than in the text.  Observe the scenes on each page and "read" the pictures; tell the story of what you see.  The moving parts also add a special appeal; raising the star in the sky also lifts up the blinds in the windows so you can see into the houses; you can make the star shoot across the sky; you can turn a dial and see all sorts of different nocturnal animals chasing after each other and a parade of objects and animals passing across the night sky.  When she was quite a lot younger, Emma used to spend ages turning the animals rounds on the dial.

5 Brilliant Bedtime Books For Toddlers And Preschoolers


I hope you’ve found something here to add to your bedtime reading collection!  Have you and your little ones read any of these books?  What did you think of them?  Do you have any other recommendations for bedtime stories?  Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!


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22 Comments

  1. I used to love Elmer! I really like the look of The Magic Castle too - there is something so special about a pop up book, especially when you read it with them for the first time. :) #KCACOLS

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  2. love a good bedtime story and this is a great list. we used to read Elmer a lot. #KCACOLS

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  3. Cool! I haven't heard of many of these! The pop-up book looks fun. Nighty nite! #KCACOLS

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  4. These are great. We're working our way through the Mr. Man books right now. #kcacols

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  5. These books look lovely, we have 'Goodnight Harry' and it's so sweet! I like the idea of playing the music to 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' whilst reading the book to create a relaxing atmosphere. #KLTR

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  6. So glad you commented on a post. I live in the US and have 3 sons. Youngest is married to a Dominicana. They have 2 children who are being raised bilingual. Oldest is married to a woman from Chile. They have 1 son who is also being raised to be bilingual. I need this resource! Thank you so much!!!

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  7. Oh my Harry would love that book Goodnight Harry, I am going to order it for him now! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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  8. Bedtime books will always hold a special memory for me. Night after night of the same book! #kcacols

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  9. What a lovely selection of books. Elmer is a firm favourite in this house #KCACOLS

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  10. I never mind buying my kids books. I love them. There are some great recommendations here and I will definitely look out for some of them #KCACOLS

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  11. May I suggest Beatrice's Goat by ‎Page McBrier? When reading this book to a five-year-old boy, it became clear to me once again how important it is to read good books to little children. His reaction to this story was all-telling about how he perceived life and what he thought was 'normal.' I wrote a story about it called Life Abroad: Little Kids, Big World. I hear it is not PC to send links to your own blog, so not sure if I even can, but here it is: https://wp.me/pWIVP-qL

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I don't mind links to blogposts if it's relevant and not spammy. I'll have a look at your post!

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  12. Some really great books, I love the look of The Magic Castle I think there is something special about pop-up books. #KLTR

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  13. I like the sound of the one about the boy in the magic castle. I love castles. I love that there are castles in England. I'm also interested in your experience living abroad – I can relate – I'm American but have lived in Australia, and now England. Cheers! #KCACOLS

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    1. Thanks, castles are fantastic, aren't they? We don't have too many castles here in Mexico - I guess the pyramids would be the closest thing! Maybe you'd be interested in taking part in my expat guest post series...?

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  14. Many of these are new to me except for Elmer. Elmer seems to have delighted a number of generations. #KLTR

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  15. Elmer is a firm fave in our household - I'm surprised that I haven't seen the other books before. Will have to find them at the library! xx #thesatsesh

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  16. Ooh, I haven't seen these before! I better look into them, they sound amazing! #DREAMTEAM

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  17. Have you read touch the brighest star? Another GREAT book for bedtime. #mixitup
    Tracy www.viewfromthebeachchair.com

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  18. I haven't read any of these. Thanks for sharing. We must be thinking along the same lines because I posted last week about this on my blog as well.http://anordinarymom.site/childrens-picture-books-we-love/

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  19. Great recommendations, I love the elephant and his lost teddy! #DreamTeam

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  20. Thanks for the suggestions! Always looking for good reads for my boy.

    #mixitup

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