Bedtime Stories and Lullabies: Books and Music 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!
For more books, see these booklists from Reading Rockets:
A Big Mooncake for Little Star
A South African Night
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.
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
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."
Daniel Tiger's 3-Minute Bedtime Stories
Whether he’s playing in the snow, exploring nature at night, or visiting family, Daniel Tiger loves making friends and going on new adventures! This treasury includes twelve of Daniel’s most grr-ific stories, each of which can be read aloud in three minutes. This sweet collection is perfect for little tigers who are settling down for bedtime and want to hear just one more story!
Global Baby Bedtimes (Global Fund for Children Books)
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
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.
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
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
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."
La luna: Canciones para soñar
Latin Grammy-winning 123 Andrés takes listeners on an imaginary trip to South America, with soothing Andean sounds and delicately composed songs that will drift listeners of any age to a dream world. Here, a gentle pirate searches for poetic new words, sheep wander on a hillside, and a little blue horse gallops down from the clouds to carry children to sleep.
Mamá Goose: Bilingual Lullabies·Nanas
Snuggle up for bedtime with these delightfully illustrated lullabies that are rich with the diversity of Latine cultures. The rhymes in Mamá Goose were collected by award-winning authors and scholars of Latine literature and are the perfect introduction to Spanish-language lullabies for English speakers, and a trove of familiar favorites for native Spanish speakers.
Nights of the World
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
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
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.
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.
Sesame Street Monster Meditation: Getting Ready for Bed with Elmo
Sometimes everyone needs to slow down and take some cleansing belly breaths -- even Elmo! This terrific board book features Elmo learning a game to help him settle down and fall asleep. The game is a fun and simple one that all young boys and girls can easily learn and play by themselves at bedtime. Plus there's an offer in the book for a free month of the Headspace app!
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
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
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.
The Great and Mighty Nikko
Nikko loves bedtime. That's because his bed turns into a magical wrestling ring for the masked luchadores that he loves. His mom, of course, doesn't believe Nikko, but she just can't see what Nikko sees. And to prove his point—zoosh! Here comes luchador numero UNO with a golden mask and a silver cape. Oh, wow. Number TWO wears an orange mask with yellow flames. And so it goes until TEN luchadores are jumping on Nikko's bed. That's when the Great and Mighty Nikko puts on his mask, taking on all ten wrestlers at once and defeating them soundly.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
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.
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.
See more great related resources and videos in our Multicultural Literature section!