Bedtime Stories and Lullabies: Books for Young Children

The day is winding down and it's time to sleep! Or is it? These books lovingly show young children around the world getting ready for bed — their favorite rituals, stuffed animals, stories, and songs. And you'll meet a few little ones along the way who aren't quite ready for bed — at least not yet!

Related booklists

For more books, see these booklists from Reading Rockets:

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A Big Mooncake for Little Star

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 3-6
Language: English
Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she's not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can't resist a nibble? In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon. A 2019 Caldecott Honor Book.

A South African Night

Age Level: 3-6

When the people of Johannesburg go to bed, the animals of Kruger National Park begin to stir. Simple text and evocative watercolors bring the city and the national reserve to life and will inspire young children to think about what is happening in the natural world while they are sleeping. This edition is out of print but may be available in libraries.

Bedtime Fun

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

At bedtime, an African American boy finds all kinds of things to do instead of going to bed. Spanish version available.

Brown Angels: An Album of Pictures and Verse

Age Level: 6-9

Join acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers in a heartwarming celebration of African-American childhood. Sharing favorites from his collection of long-forgotten, turn-of-the-century photographs, and punctuating them with his own moving poetry, Mr. Myers has created a beautiful album that reminds us that "the child in each of us is our most precious part."

Global Baby Bedtimes (Global Fund for Children Books)

Age Level: 0-3

Babies love to look at babies and this bright collection of photos is a ticket to an around-the-world journey From Panama to Peru, Vietnam to Argentina, each of the sixteen colorful photos in Global Baby Bedtimes is a glimpse into a new country and culture. Celebrate different bedtime routines and introduce babies and toddlers to their global neighbors as they all get ready to say "goodnight."

Good Night Captain Mama

Illustrated by: Linda Lens
Age Level: 6-9

A little boy is walking to his bedroom when he notices his mother in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane. He drifts off to sleep with thoughts of his mommy in the airplane and the special surprise she gives him. This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. Bilingual text.

Hip-Hop Lollipop

Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 3-6

Watch as Lollipop grooves her way through her bedtime routine, brushing her teeth to the beat and shimmying into pjs. She sways along with her sister, her parents, and even some enthusiastic pets until, finally, Lollie closes her eyes and dances through her dreams.

Hush! A Thai Lullaby

Illustrated by: Holly Meade
Age Level: 0-3

A loving mother asks animals from a water buffalo to a lizard to "hush" so her baby can sleep. Once the noises stop, the mother herself sleeps — and the baby is now awake! Textured illustrations evoke the Thai setting and convey the understated humor of this unique bedtime book.

I Love You As Much

Illustrated by: Henri Sorensen
Age Level: 0-3

Celebrate Mother's Day every day. This celebration of the bond between mothers and their babies can be shared at naptime or bedtime or whenever it is time to say "I love you."

Nights of the World

Illustrated by: Amo
Age Level: 0-3

This delightful bedtime story shares daytime activities and nighttime rituals from around the globe. Regardless of where they live, children play by day, laugh, and make lots of noise. At night, their eyes are closed. "Shh! Good night..."

On Mother's Lap

Illustrated by: Glo Coalson
Age Level: 3-6

Sitting on his mother's lap, a young Inuit boy cheerfully gathers his belongings until he, some toys, his puppy, and a blanket are all crowded together in the rocking chair. When his baby sister cries, the boy claims there is no room for her, but Mother proves him wrong, and the threesome settle comfortably in the chair. Soft illustrations depict a cozy scene and a loving family. — The Horn Book

Peekaboo Bedtime

Age Level: 0-3

A cheerful child gets ready for bed, playing and saying "Peekaboo! I see…" until at last, ready for bed, the child sees "you!" This companion to Peekaboo Morning features the same child but stands alone.

Poems to Dream Together

Dreams are for the day and the night. Children dream for themselves as well as their community and their world. Short poems, richly imagined and vibrantly illustrated appear in English and Spanish and are firmly rooted in a child's experience.

Say Goodnight

Age Level: 0-3

Even the most active baby or toddler must sleep sometime, and in this story the children "say goodnight." Similar to Tickle Tickle and All Fall Down, this is a sure hit to share with babies and toddlers.

Sleeping Cutie

Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 0-3

Cutie LaRue is normally a very agreeable child. But at bedtime she becomes downright defiant. As hard as her parents try to make Cutie sleepy, well, nothing works. But a talking doll named Night Owl may just hold the key to the Dreamland Nightclub where Cutie can dance, play music, and dream happily all night long! The talented husband/wife team of Andrea and Brian Pinkney have collaborated again to present this jaunty, imaginative nighttime tale.

Sweet Dreams/Dulces sueños

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Maribel Suarez
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

It's bedtime, and Grandma has come to tuck everyone in. One by one, she kisses her grandchildren good-night in a loving refrain that reminds them of all the other friends who are closing their eyes and falling asleep. The soothing text and gentle drawings make this the perfect way to end a busy day. Bilingual text. This title is part of the My Family/Mi Familia series.

Tell Me a Story, Mama

Illustrated by: David Soman
Age Level: 3-6

As a child gets ready for bed, she implores, "Tell me a story, Mama," then proceeds to tell it herself. Mama adds only to punctuate the girl’s story with maternal wisdom. This warm story, told in two voices, reflects how children make family stories their own.

Ten, Nine, Eight

Age Level: 0-3

This countdown to bedtime begins with "10 small toes all washed and warm" until one little girl is tucked snugly into bed by her loving dad. Richly hued illustrations, warmly detailed, combine with a straightforward text that holds up to multiple readings as well as careful examination.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Age Level: 3-6

A chipmunk looks skyward and wonders about the twinkling stars before his imaginative adventure and travel to the moon. Stunning watercolors extend the familiar rhyme.

Where’s Bunny?

Illustrated by: Renné Benoit
Age Level: 3-6

An older sister helps her adorable younger brother wind down from his day and enjoy the rituals of bedtime. Together, they take a bath (in a tub filled with plenty of bubbles and their favorite water toys), wash their hair, brush their teeth, and read a story.