Are you tired of the bedtime chaos and ready to implement a bedtime routine that will bring joy and peace to your home? Enter the bedtime storybook and read-aloud time. This little rhythm has become a non-negotiable in our home and it is the sweetest part of our day. 

In addition to the numerous benefits of reading aloud to children, reading together at bedtime with your children is a great way to end the day with snuggles and a beloved picture book. A bedtime reading routine is a sweet way to set aside everything that has happened during the day and reconnect with your child. 

Young children enjoy uninterrupted and undivided attention from their parents and reading books together is just one of the many ways you can do this. I have found that this routine is most impactful on days that we have struggled with attitudes and tempers and generally had a rough day. The combination of snuggles and storybooks at the end of the day is the perfect way to reconnect and set your child up for a good night’s sleep. It truly is one of my favorite parts of the whole day!

Establishing a Nighttime Routine

In our home, we like to have time to read multiple books before bed and so we usually begin our reading time between 7:15-7:30pm. We get pajamas on and brush teeth and do all the other before-bed-necessities, like rubbing Earthley’s “nighttime sleepy lotion” on bellies and rubbing lavendar essential oil onto the bottoms of feet. Sometimes we also use Earthley’s “Sleepytime” tincture to help encourage restful sleep. (This is meant to be helpful and is not medical advice. Thanks for understanding.)

We have found that doing all of these things before we read helps to wind down and prepare for sleep a little bit better and we are able to enjoy cuddling and being together without watching the clock as closely. 

My daughter loves to read and she is very passionate about keeping this bedtime ritual. Knowing that she has to be ready for bed before we can read helps eliminate a certain amount of bedtime silliness simply because the longer it takes to get ready for bed, the less time we will have to read. Don’t get me wrong, we are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but these little rhythms have helped, and we notice a big difference when we do things differently.

Once she is completely ready for bed, we gather our favorite blankets and stuffed animals and pile onto the couch with a stack of books. Our reading each night looks different: sometimes my daughter will choose the books she wants to read and sometimes I pick out a couple of books. Other nights we only read whichever 1-2 books are the current favorites, which are also, generally, books that we have already read several times that day. 

Choosing Bedtime Stories

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing bedtime stories. 

1. The first is the theme of the book. I am very careful about what we read at all times simply because I believe that spoken words, and particularly stories, have a powerful impact on the memories and character development of young minds and it is important that we fill our children’s minds with things that are good and beautiful and true all the time, but especially at bedtime, I want to fill my child’s mind with things that are going to promote restful sleep. Stories that are suspenseful or scary have the potential to instigate bad dreams, which is the opposite of our goal. 

2. Illustrations are also important to me in choosing books. Some stories are lovely and we enjoy reading them, but the illustrations are a little less than ideal. Again, I think pictures are powerful and I want to fill my child’s mind with only beautiful illustrations. One of our favorite books is “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney. The gorgeous illustrations of this book exemplifies the type of pictures that I want my little girl to be thinking of as she drifts off to sleep. 

3. Choose topics that address nighttime concerns or struggles. For instance, does your child struggle with fear of the dark or loneliness? Choose a book that reiterates the fact that you are always close by and will not leave. “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney is one such book that reinforces this thought even as the mama llama reminds her baby llama that she is “always near, even if [she’s] not right here”. We have often quoted this book to my daughter during a moment of her questioning where we will be once she is tucked into bed. 

The Best Bedtime Books

Now that we have talked about establishing a bedtime routine and the criteria for choosing great books, let’s look at some favorite bedtime books.

Classic tales and stories make for some of the best stories and children introduced to these stories at an early age will gain an appreciation for good literature. 

1. “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown is a favorite nighttime storybook for many. I have fond memories of my parents reading this book to me in my own childhood and it was one of the first books we added to our little library. 

2. “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney is the perfect bedtime story for children who fear being left alone. With its rhyming text and fun illustrations, it is a favorite book for kids of all ages.

3. “Bear Can’t Sleep” by Karma Wilson is the sweet story of a brown bear who can’t sleep and his friends who try everything they know to help him fall asleep.

4. “Sleep Tight with the Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. 

5. “Night, Night Farm” by Kim Soderberg invites little readers to say goodnight to the different animals on the farm.

6. “Does God Sleep?” by Amy Gannett may not be a traditional bedtime story, but we love the fact that it reminds us of God’s power and presence with us at any and all times, even at night while we are sleeping. Another often quoted book in our house!

7. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney is a classic tale of the little hare who wonders just how much his father loves him. A great first-board book, this delightful story will help your child feel secure in your love for him!

8. “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker will be a favorite bedtime story if you have a little boy in your house.

9. Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace are delightful children’s books that are another great choice to incorporate into your bedtime story time. 

10. “Peter Rabbit” by Beatrice Potter is yet another simple story with timeless morals and sweet illustrations. “Peter Rabbit” is perhaps the most popular of Potter’s titles, but the others are just as lovely. 

There are so many other great bedtime books that could be mentioned. Reading nursery rhymes together is a wonderful way to introduce your child to poetry and children love the lyrical sound of stories and poems that contain lots of repetition. Bedtime stories are not just for toddlers, all family members can enjoy reading together as a way to wind down and connect in an intentional way. 

Hopefully this post gives you a good starting place to find some of the best bedtime stories and begin to incorporate reading into your nightly routine. I believe it will become one of the most cherished parts of your day and fill you with memories of togetherness for years to come. 

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