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Baby & Toddler


Sleepytime Stories: Books to Help Children Build a Bedtime Routine

by Jennifer Ridgway

Bedtime Books for Children
Photo credit: Shestock, Blend Images/Getty Images

One of the most ubiquitous pieces of parenting advice I have heard and read is how important it is to establish and maintain a bedtime routine. Many experts (as well as fellow parents) recommend starting as soon as possible to help create the link between a routine and falling asleep. As with many pieces of advice, it can sometimes be easier said than done — but thankfully there are many books to help illustrate routines. Here are some stories that can help you and your child come up with a nighttime ritual that works well for your family.

  • Ages 0 - 2

  • Nighty-Night

    by Leslie Patricelli

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    Patricelli is well known for her bold illustrations and simple text. With Nighty-Night, she follows a baby as it goes through the bedtime routine. While she highlights some standard steps (bathtime, brushing teeth, and storytime), she also includes a couple of different ones, including dance-time and saying goodnight to the moon. At the back of the book is a glossary of “More nighty-night things” that illustrates words like yawn, blankie, dream, and snore.

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  • Llama Llama Nighty-Night

    by Anna Dewdney

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    A great introduction to the beloved character of Llama Llama, this short board book features the poetic rhyming of the full-length Llama Llama books. Follow along as Llama Llama and Mama go through the bedtime routine after dinner — from brushing teeth to taking a bath to falling asleep. This gives families a simple and sweet way to introduce a regular bedtime routine.

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  • Baby Touch and Feel: Bedtime

    by DK

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    With real photographs of bedtime objects and children, Baby Touch and Feel: Bedtime allows toddlers to have an interactive experience with the book and feel objects associated with going to bed, including a soft blanket, flannel washcloth, and grippy slippers. Touch and feel books are a favorite for many young children and using actual photography helps kids become familiar with bedtime-related objects.

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  • The Going-To-Bed Book

    by Sandra Boynton

    Boynton writes in silly rhymes, draws fun animal characters, and seems to know how to catch children’s attention. As the sun sets, a group of animals who are passengers on a cruise ship get ready for bed with a (mostly) familiar bedtime routine — until it’s interrupted by some silly antics.

  • Kiss Good Night

    by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram

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    In this gentle book with cozy illustrations, Mama Bear goes through the tucking-in routine with Sam. As Mama goes through the different steps of putting Sam to bed (reading aloud, tucking him in tight, giving him warm milk), Sam waits for his goodnight kiss. There are opportunities for real-life kisses and hugs as you read the story. I still love reading this one to my twins at bedtime.

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  • Ladybug Girl Says Good Night

    by Jacky Davis, illustrated by David Soman

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    Join Ladybug Girl as she goes through her own bedtime routine (including pajamas with her signature dotted wings!). A cute and brief bedtime book for little sleep-seeking fans of the ever-popular Ladybug Girl series.

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  • Ages 3 - 5

  • A Recipe for Bedtime

    by Peter Bently, illustrated by Sarah Massini

    Bently puts a twist on the bedtime routine by writing a recipe for going to bed. The cute pictures from Massini show stuffed animals doing all the tasks with the child, and Bently’s rhymes are soothing. The book ends with a lullaby that could be added to your bedtime routine in lieu of traditional lullabies.

  • If I Were a Kangaroo: A Bedtime Tale

    by Mylisa Larsen, illustrated by Anna Raff

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    It’s not just humans who have particular routines around sleep — here we have a book that shows different animals as their babies go to sleep. Larsen’s prose has a wonderful rhyming pattern that will capture a child’s attention, while Raff’s illustrations are filled with love between the parent and baby animals. The end of the book includes fun sleep-related facts about the various animals included in the book.

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  • Even Superheroes Have to Sleep

    by Sara Crow, illustrated by Adam Record

    Highlighting both extraordinary and everyday superheroes, this book shows children that sleep is a necessity for everyone, even caped heroes, princesses, doctors, and construction workers. The last line is “Even children have to sleep” — the perfect way to sum up the book. The book also includes a sleep reward chart with stickers to help kids establish a good bedtime routine.

  • Brush Your Teeth, Please: A Pop-Up Book

    by Leslie McGuire, illustrated by Jean Pidgeon

    One of the most important parts of the bedtime routine is brushing teeth, which can sometimes be a difficult task to convince kids to do. With illustrations of different animals brushing and flossing, plus pop-ups that make it a 3D experience, Brush Your Teeth, Please makes good oral hygiene look fun. Plus, the book is interactive: Children can get involved by “cleaning” the animals’ teeth with the attached brush.

  • Around the World in a Bathtub

    by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Micha Archer

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    Whether you have a child reluctant to get IN the tub or a waterbaby who never wants to get OUT (or both, depending on the day!), you’ll find lots to love in this new book that celebrates different bathing rituals around the world. Archer’s illustrations are vibrant and emphasize the calming colors of blue and green. And as the story travels the world, from the familiar tub of the U.S. to a hammam in Turkey, readers learn how to say “yes yes” and “no no” in seven different languages (including pronunciations). The back of the book includes more information about how the different cultures bathe.

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What books do you use to help with the bedtime routine?