Top 5: Bedtime Books for Toddlers

At bedtime the little ones are always restless and one way to calm everyone down is a real bedtime book… a book about bedtime, and sleep, and yawning, and… oh, pardon me, I nodded off there for a moment.

Here are five rather excellent and beautiful bedtime stories that you may not know about. (Note: No Goodnight Moon on this list – everyone knows about that one already!) Click on titles for full reviews.

1. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes – infant+

Simple and funny. Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk.

2. Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell – age 2+

All about getting settled for sleep, starring a very patient parent.

3. The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed by Helen Cooper – age 2+

Baby wants to keep playing but his toys are sleepy.

4. One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth – age 3+

Very funny. All the animals in the park are looking for a warm place to sleep, so they descend on the park-keeper’s little house.

5. The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson – age 3+

Dreamy and gorgeous. A girl imagines she is flying over the countryside at night, all the way to the planets and stars.

And, what the heck, here’s a bonus, one I haven’t reviewed on this blog but that we’ve read and listened to countless times:

Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss – age 2+

A chronicle of all manner of creatures going to bed – yawners, sleepwalkers, sleeptalkers, snorers and dreamers. It’s a little long, but brilliant in its pacing, gradually slowing and mellowing until the final “Good night.” We have a fantastic CD version of it which we’d listen to while following along in the book. The narration, music and fx are terrific and the sound of all those yawns will definitely get you and your toddler yawning too. (Here’s the link to the CD on amazon.)



The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed


The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed

(aka The Boy Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed)

by Helen Cooper

London: Doubleday, 1996

30 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: bedtime stories, night

Also by this author: Pumpkin Soup, The Bear Under the Stairs


Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?


Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?

Martin Waddell, text

Barbara Firth, illustrations

Candlewick Press, 1988

30 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: bears, night, bedtime, dark, fears, single parent


The Wind Blew


The Wind Blew

by Pat Hutchins

Simon & Schuster, 1974

28 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: wind, weather

Other books by this author: Rosie’s Walk, Don’t Forget the Bacon!, The Doorbell Rang, The Surprise Party, Clocks and More Clocks


The Lion and the Mouse


The Lion and the Mouse

by Jerry Pinkney

Little, Brown and Company, 2009

34 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: mice, lions, animals, Africa, fables, wordless books

Also by this author: Little Red Hen, John Henry, Aesop’s Fables, Noah’s Ark

Next: a full collection of Aesop’s Fables


May I Bring a Friend?


May I Bring a Friend?

written by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

illustrated by Beni Montresor

Simon & Schuster, 1964

42 pp.

Age: 2+

Interests: animals, royalty, castles, zoo, manners, invitations


Top 5: Books about Snow

Dang. I know I promised the Part 2 Poetry List: 3 and up this week (Poetry for the under-3s here), but I’m still reading and picking books for that one. However, I was inspired by the little bit of snow we had this week to create a list of books celebrating the cold white stuff, all sides of it – from recreation to fantasy to science. (I’ve written on each of these books more fully – click on the title to read the full review.)

1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats – age 2+

A small boy explores a snowy world. (Available at

2. The Story of the Snow Children, by Sibylle von Olfers – age 2+

High fantasy – a girl goes to visit the Snow Queen in her ice castle. (Available at

3. White Snow Bright Snow, by Alvin Tresselt/Roger Duvoisin – age 3+

Snow comes to town and everyone reacts to it in their own way… some shovel, some play. (Available at

4. The Big Snow, by Berta and Elmer Hader – age 3+

Animals and birds adopt many strategies to survive the winter. (Available at

5. Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin – age 5+

True story about the man who invented a way to photograph snowflakes. (Available at

The Snowy Day


The Snowy Day

by Ezra Jack Keats

New York: Viking Press, 1962

28 pp.

Ages: 2 +

Interests: snow, winter,

Also by this author: Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, Goggles!


Top 5: Poetry for the Very Young

Poetry is a perfect way to introduce your child to the sheer pleasure of words, playing with rhythm, rhyme, humour and imagination. Even a baby will enjoy the musical qualities of poems read aloud, even if they don’t quite understand their meaning.

Of course a great many picture books are written in rhyme – Each Peach Pear Plum, the Madeline books, Drummer Hoff, Mister Magnolia, and the entire works of Dr. Seuss for example! Here are some poetry collections and classics to begin with, suitable for infants on up. (Click on links for full reviews.)   Coming soon: poems for preschoolers (3 to 6).

1. The Mother Goose Treasury, ill. by Raymond Briggs (Hamish Hamilton, 1966) – Ages: infant +

There are many, many collections out there to choose from. This one is particularly comprehensive (and a Greenaway Medal Winner). A nice big book of nursery rhymes is also a perfect baby shower gift!  (Available at

2. The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles, Maude and Miska Petersham (Simon & Schuster, 1945) – Ages: infant +

Another collection of old folk rhymes, including such classics as “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear”. The kind of rhymes you don’t remember anyone teaching you… you just feel like you’ve always known them. (Available at

3. All Join In, Quentin Blake (Jonathon Cape, 1990) – Ages: 2 +

Rollicking rhymes that invite everyone to “all join in!” Poetry at its most accessible: loud, raucous and fun!

4. The Owl and the Pussycat / The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, Edward Lear – Ages: 2 +

Lear’s classics of nonsense and word-invention (runcible spoon?) successfully stand the test of time. The Owl and the Pussycat is especially lovely and romantic. (NB. Lear’s limericks are rather more problemmatic, fairly violent and dark, but these two poems are blissfully serene.)  (Owl on amazon; Quangle on amazon.)

5. A Visit from St. Nicholas, aka ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Clarke Moore (1823) – Ages: 2+

Don’t forget this seasonal classic, available in many, many editions. (Here’s one on

Check out my follow-up list – Top 5: Poetry for Preschoolers (3-6).

The Story of the Snow Children

The Story of the Snow Children

by Sibylle von Olfers

first published in 1905 in Germany

English translation by Polly Lawson – Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2005

20 pp.

Ages: 2 +

Interests: fairies, princesses, snow, winter, parties, magic

Also by this author: The Story of the Root Children (1906), Princess in the Forest (1909), and The Story of the Wind Children (1910)

You might also like: Peter in Blueberry Land (1901) – very similar in story, style and look


Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.