Toddler Bedtime Books
December 3, 2013 11:23 PM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for books about bedtime or ending with the character(s) asleep. My not-quite-two-year-old seems to actively get much sleepier when we read bedtime orientated books. Goodnight Little Bear and Goodnight Moon have both worked to help calm him down for bedtime, and I'd like a bit more variety in my night time book repertoire.

Color Kittens is a favorite of his but (spoiler alert) it ends with Brush and Hush pouncing in the sunshine so its not an effective sleep aid.

Additionally, books dealing with being scared of the dark are a no-go (ie Goodnight Lewis or Llama Llama Red Pajama. He currently has no fear of monsters under beds or in closets and I'm not interested in introducing that concept.
posted by HMSSM to Society & Culture (46 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Where is the Green Sheep - Mem Fox
Mr Bear Says Goodnight and Stormy Weather - Debi Gliori
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late - Mo Willems
Hairy McClary - Lynley Dodd (I'm a bit less sure of this one, I *think* it ends up with Hairy McClary in bed, but I might be misremembering it - good book anyway, should get it).
posted by Kaleidoscope at 11:42 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Little Hoot
Sleepy ABC
Goodnight Goon
posted by sacrifix at 11:49 PM on December 3, 2013

Without realizing it, we have a little collection of these as well:

Night Night Little Pookie (love the Sandra Boynton books)
Little Quack's Bedtime
A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon
Time for Bed - Mem Fox
posted by Bella Sebastian at 12:23 AM on December 4, 2013

I love Pigeon, but he has a meltdown in DLtPSUL.

Ira Sleeps Over
Bedtime for Frances....
posted by brujita at 12:31 AM on December 4, 2013

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton is lovely (but odd - who excercises between bathtime and bed?!)

Hairy McLary as recommended above ends with the dog in bed, terrified of the cat, but not sleeping.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:44 AM on December 4, 2013

Bats at the Beach has that kind of sing-song rhythm when read aloud but the bats are active all night and fly back at dawn to sleep so it might give him the wrong idea.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:53 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dr. Seuss book of sleep, there are many sleepy characters that indeed go to sleep.
posted by meijusa at 12:57 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Just Go to Bed, Little Critters, Mercer Mayer
posted by sarae at 2:03 AM on December 4, 2013

The Boy Who Wouldn't Go To Bed is an excellent one.
posted by pipeski at 2:28 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang.
posted by stinker at 2:33 AM on December 4, 2013

Night Night Baby
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:02 AM on December 4, 2013

Time for Bed is awesome, it has a perfect cadence for sleepiness. As does Goodnight Train; Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site; Steam Train Dream Train; Bear Snores On; and Where oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear.

My son really liked Pajama Time, but that involves animals partying before they go to sleep. Dinosaur vs. Bedtime is also cute, but might be too active.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:28 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

Admittedly he goes on a journey with the moon, but is always trying to get back to bed!
posted by carabiner at 3:41 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Seconding Dr Seuss. There was about a 4 month stretch where I could fairly reliably count on StepKidlet being out about halfway through the book.
posted by skittlekicks at 4:46 AM on December 4, 2013

I have very fond memories of Wynken, Blynken, & Nod, a beautiful (and soporific) poem/book about falling asleep. The one I linked to looks like it has nice illustrations as well.
posted by frobozz at 5:09 AM on December 4, 2013

We love Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site in my house.
posted by LightMayo at 5:11 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime.

BEDTIME... WINS! Raaaar.

This is actually my son's favorite book, and he's about the same age. He demands it every night before bed.
posted by daikaisho at 5:37 AM on December 4, 2013

Came in to say Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site, and the same author has a new one out called Steam Train, Dream Train, which I haven't read yet but is the same idea.

And Goodnight Gorilla is MY favorite bedtime book. ;) It's so cute!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

My daughter will be two next week, and every night for over a year now we've read her Time For Bed. It's worked so well for us I've purchased copies for several friends and family members. In May the kid started requesting additional books every night so we added How Do I Love You, which is not about bedtime but is rhythmic and calm and very sweet.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:48 AM on December 4, 2013

I still remember reading Where Does the Brown Bear Go? to my now grown daughter, it has a very nice rhythm, quite charming.
posted by Quizzical Hamster at 5:52 AM on December 4, 2013

Time For Bed has been our go-to wind-down book for three kids now. William and the Night Train is also awesome, and has some beautiful language, almost musical in places.
posted by jbickers at 6:11 AM on December 4, 2013

Seconding Green Sheep. Also Kiss Kiss Goodnight.
posted by kestrel251 at 6:13 AM on December 4, 2013

Nth-ing Steam Train Dream Train, it's our usual last-book-before-bed book.

In second place is The View At The Zoo, though it's a bit silly earlier on.

Make Way for Ducklings ends with all the ducks going to their little island to go to sleep. None of the other McCloskey ends with going to sleep but we find the rhythm of them very soothing.

Thy Friend Obadiah

That's When I'm Happy is an absolute cup of cocoa in book form. (The baby ends up snuggling in bed with his/her parents, which I mention because we set it aside for a while when we were trying to break that habit.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:13 AM on December 4, 2013

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown.
posted by kmennie at 6:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

By the same author as Goodnight, Gorilla, which I love: 10 Minutes till Bedtime.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:32 AM on December 4, 2013

I am a Bunny is sweet & beautiful. At the end, the bunny curls up in his bed "to dream about spring."

We also love Time for Bed by Mem Fox.
posted by belladonna at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2013

There's a Wocket in My Pocket ends with the narrator in bed with the zillow on his pillow.

We have a bath-themed book called Splish Splash that ends with a little bear going to bed after his bath. It has cute pictures and a nice cadence. My close-to-2-year-old still likes it, but it may be too young for yours.

One last thing, Bedtime for Frances did not work for us because (spoiler alert) she finally goes to bed after her dad threatens to spank her.
posted by Xalf at 7:02 AM on December 4, 2013

We have read Good Night by Claire Masurel several hundred times. It's not about an adult trying to get a child to sleep, but a girl who's trying to get all her toys to go to sleep, so it appeals to the toddler's sense of independence and desire for control. Plus, good art!
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:07 AM on December 4, 2013

Oh also, Christoph Niemann's Subway is great, despite some rhymes that are a little off. It ends with the kids in bed having subway dreams.
posted by Xalf at 7:07 AM on December 4, 2013

In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak, begins with Mickey falling out of bed and, after baking and airplane adventures, he falls back into bed and goes to sleep. My 2 year old likes it and it's a good transition for bedtime.
posted by OrderOctopoda at 8:26 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Three Little Chipmunks by Marjorie Torrey was my favorite when I was a kid and it's my favorite thing to read to my grandsons (or was—I guess they've grown out of it now—where does the time go?); I can't believe it hasn't been reprinted/reissued in the last sixty years, but used copies don't cost that much (Amazon has it for $12.99, which surprises me—last time I looked, a few years ago, you could get it for a buck or so). It's about three chipmunks who go out to play and get in trouble and Cheeky, the youngest, gets blamed even though this time it wasn't his fault! and he has to go to bed without supper but then he gets forgiven and his mommy brings in a dish of STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM and hugs him and he goes to sleep happy. And the illustrations are great. It's the best book ever.
posted by languagehat at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2013

Llama Llama Nighty Night is short, sweet, and a regular request (LLAMA!) around here.
posted by ThatSomething at 8:30 AM on December 4, 2013

How Will I Ever Sleep in This Bed by Della Ross

How do Dinosaurs say Goodnight by Jane Yollen

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton. In fact, you should buy all of Sandra Boynton. They never stop being great.
posted by zizzle at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2013

Right now we're doing Goodnight, I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

For naps we do
Long Johns by Kit Allen
and a very dated book from the library, Put that fat cat on a diet! (But he loooooves it)
posted by bluebelle at 10:21 AM on December 4, 2013

My 16-mo son loves it when I read Dinosaur Vs Bedtime To him.

ROAR! Snore.
posted by mkultra at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2013

Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex is adorable and silly and ends with Chu the panda in bed. Goodnight Gorilla is great because it's nearly wordless and lets you vary your telling of it over time.
posted by SobaFett at 11:27 AM on December 4, 2013

I see most of our favorites on this list, including Sandra Boynton and Goodnight Moon and Green Sheep and so on, but I didn't notice I don't want to go to bed!, which is very cute.

But almost any book works as a bedtime book, honestly - for us, at least, the ritual of sitting down and cuddling and reading is the key. (Lately it's been Frog and Toad, or Robert the Rose Horse - neither is a particularly "restful" book.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:31 AM on December 4, 2013

My No, No, No Day!
posted by Rat Spatula at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2013

I am sad to see that Charlotte Zolotow's Flocks of Birds is out of print. We had it from the library and it was excellent for this purpose. (A child asks her mother what she should think about as she's going to sleep, and her mother tells her to imagine flocks of birds flying over mountains, fields, lakes, the city... it's very soothing, and does end with the child going to sleep.) She wrote several others that have the general form of conversation in bed ends with sleep, though, and I'd recommend any. When the Wind Stops is one good one, and The Seashore Book is another, but if you feel like going to the trouble of getting a copy of Flocks of Birds, it's the best.
posted by redfoxtail at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2013

Mo Willems' Time to Sleep Sheep the Sheep is about preparing for bedtime.
posted by brujita at 1:10 PM on December 4, 2013

Runaway Bunny is by the same author as Goodnite Moon and is great.
posted by radioamy at 1:16 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm Not Sleepy
posted by Gary at 2:46 PM on December 4, 2013

Sleepyhead has been a hit here for a few years.
posted by schnee at 8:49 PM on December 4, 2013

Ten Sleepy Sheep.
Maybe Piggies.

Nthing Goodnight goodnight construction site. Seriously makes me want to go to bed.
posted by freezer cake at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2013

I wasn't able to answer with my favorite bedtime book when you posted this question because I couldn't remember the title, but now I am visiting my parents and I found it on the shelf. It is "Once: A Lullaby" by bp Nichol (no typo; the lowercase is intentional, it seems) and Anita Lobel. A typical verse goes "Once I was a little cow, baby cow, little cow. Once I was a little cow. MOO, I fell asleep." Each page shows the animal asleep in bed surrounded by images of themselves and their parents, and with their own books and toys on the floor by the bed.

I liked it so much as a small child that I remember it vividly now, 27ish years later. It's a very soothing, comfortable book.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:56 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Fulfill a childhood craving for this specific...   |   What Boston area Quaker meeting is best for my... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.