6 Bedtime Stories Your Toddler Will Love


If you want to get your little loves to sleep, building a solid bedtime routine is the number 1 place to start. There’s no better way to wind down, than with a great book. As a sleep consultant and special educator, I assure you the benefit of reading to your child at night is two fold – YOU are encouraging your child to:

1. Start early in developing a love for reading AND

2. Take part in a predictable, calm and relaxing– yet, enjoyable activity before shutting down.

Now, as a mom of two toddlers I also know just how much is on your plate everyday.  The never-ending list of demands including cooking for a family, tidying the house, doing the laundry, working, chauffeuring, planning, entertaining, etc. etc. etc. can often leave you with little to no energy at the end of a long day.  However, I urge you NOT to skip that book at bedtimeThis is truly a bonding experience that you can’t afford to miss!

Reading with your child regularly can greatly improve memory skills.  With repetition, children quickly become familiar with favorite characters, story events and new vocabulary words.  In addition, setting aside a scheduled time to read with your child can enhance their focus and attention, while also promoting togetherness, strengthening your parent-child bond.  But in order for all of this fundamental learning and growth to take place, your child will need to be engaged.  Below, are my family’s favorite books to pull out before bed.

1. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen was one of our first loves.  Your tot will love to read along as they memorize the repeated phrases on every other page.  The author uses onomatopoeia, alliteration and rhyming to masterfully take you through a sad fish’s journey to find happiness. My kids love the colorful, under the sea images and meeting each of the new sea creatures that appear.  The story line lends itself to dramatic voices and expression, which adds some fun to your bedtime routine.  It also teaches your child about sadness and the importance of having a positive attitude.  The ending is a great conversation starter to discuss with your child the impact they could have, just by being a good friend!  

2. Dinosnores or any of Sandra Boynton’s collection of board books. For those nights where you’ve lost track of time and it’s getting late. This less than two-minute read sets the mood for bedtime and reinforces some actions that may be part of your own toddler’s bedtime routine. With colorful illustrations, humor and simple rhyming statements, this book is a favorite of both my 1 and 4 year old! Some other honorable mentions by this well-known author, that are staples in our home, include The Belly Button Book, The Going to Bed Book, Dinosaur Dance and Barnyard Dance.  These are all short enough (yet still engaging) board books that yes, you can even appease your procrastinating toddler’s wish for one more book. If you must.

3. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin. To be honest, I didn’t love this book at first.  Personally, as a teacher, I enjoy the build up and reveal of a good moral or theme.  Some literature that I can learn from and think about for a while.  This book is NOT that!  However, after seeing how happy my daughter is when we read this together I can now say that I admire a book that is just straight up FUN. Plus, there are a number of vivid vocabulary words that she was curious about and has since learned.  For older kids, you can even touch on the topic of cause and effect relationships, in a silly way, of course! Needless to say, this book has now won me over and I don’t mind reading it over and over again. It’s a New York Times bestseller that you’ll definitely want to add to the rotation for some late night giggles.

4. The Napping House by Audrey WoodBelieve it or not, this book has been around since the 80s.  It is a classic story that builds and repeats with each new page.  The repetition and rhythm of this story make it attention-grabbing, even for younger tots. In fact, since I introduced it to my one year old, he has snatched it from his book shelf every night after his bath.  At its climax, the book reverses through all of the members of the household and we add in our own sound effects as every one gets woken from a deep slumber.  This one literally, doesn’t get old.

5. Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabley. Pig the Pug is one of my favorite children’s book characters of all time. This book is one in a series of hilarious stories featuring a mischievous pup that makes some questionable decisions. If you want to teach your child a lesson about honesty and accountability, all while laughing out loud, this is a must own! The author’s word choice and rhyming are poetic and the illustrations are perfectly paired. Let’s just say, if it is my turn to choose the book for the night, I’m picking Pig – Every time.

6. Goodnight, Butterfly by Ross Burach. I first discovered this book at a Scholastic book fair.  I had never really heard of it but was intrigued by the title and cover since I am a pediatric sleep consultant and assist families with infants and toddlers who have trouble winding down.  While this isn’t the quickest book to read at bedtime, it is definitely an enjoyable one!  The story is told through back-and-forth dialogue between a wired butterfly who cannot get back to sleep and the porcupine who woke him up.  Not only is the conversation humorous and clever, but it also helps children learn about nocturnal animals.  If your tot has trouble settling down at night, this is one you won’t want to miss, as it teaches the lesson of finding your calm.  And great news! If you like this one, there are other books in this series including The Very Impatient Caterpillar and The Little Butterfly That Could.  Burach is also set to release the fourth book in the series this April!

Whether you choose to add these specific titles to your collection or not, reading with your children is essential for their cognitive development. When building in a story or two to your bedtime routine, you are guaranteeing- intentional time spent on BOTH furthering your child’s intellectual success and deepening their feelings of attachment, love and security.  It’s a Win, Win.

About the Blogger

I’m Diane Repetz, a certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of Little Sleep Solutions LLC. Just this past year, I sought the help of a sleep coach to assist with my own 3 year old and her bedtime blow ups.  After taking her advice, my little girl’s behavior and sleep was transformed and I was instantly intrigued by the field of sleep training. Through the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management, I myself, studied to become a consultant and now have the pleasure of helping families who seek to improve their own infant or toddler’s sleep. For more information on my services as a consultant or on becoming a consultant yourself, click below to schedule a FREE 15 minute discovery call.

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