Bedtime routines are so important for children, as well as for ourselves as adults. Like Pavlov’s bells and conditioning, they help signal our bodies that it’s time to slow down and prepare for sleep. One of my favorite parts of our bedtime routine is story time. Books, cuddles, and imagination. What’s not to love? However busy the day, this always gives us a few moments to connect and bond with each other. When looking over some of my favorite bedtime stories to read with my Littles, I noticed a theme. We tend to read a lot of magical bedtime books! Below are my top four favorite, truly magical bedtime books for children. If you haven’t read these already, you need to. I know you’ll love them as much as we do.
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4 Truly Magical Bedtime Books for Children
Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin
Recommended Age: 2-5 years
This is one of my favorite bedtime stories. The narration rhymes, and the illustrations have a hipster, vintage flair. Animals such as rabbits, bears, foxes, and birds, carry children to magical places in their dreams. Places like the circus, an underwater tea party with mermaids, or a gathering of elves in the woods. And there are so many sweet details to love in this book! Hidden under the book flap of the hardcover copy are constellations of these many animals. Inside the front cover are sleepy blue, monotone depictions of children going through their bedtime routines, brushing their teeth and reading stories. Inside of the back cover are the same monotone little children fast asleep in bed with their dream animals close by, in the form of stuffed animals, mobiles, and night lights.
When Mermaids Sleep by Ann Bonwill, Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Recommended Age: 2-5 years
If your children have ever wondered where mermaids, dragons, unicorns, or genies sleep, this magical bedtime book will tell them everything. This is another rhyming book, where the beginning of each verse picks up where the last one left off. For example, the mermaids are rocked to sleep by the same waves that carry snoring pirates’ ships to shore. The story ends when your child discovers that they sleep under the same moon as fairies. This one has been a favorite of my Littles. We just checked it out from the library, but we have read it over and over at the Littles’ requests to the point that we will have to add it to our own library!
It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman
Recommended Age: 1-3 years
This stunning book has a lulling, sing-song rhythm combined with it’s rhyme. The story tells of animals in all parts of the world – tigers, panda bears, swans, and otters – as they grow sleepy. And in the end, all these animals arrive in your child’s dreams, in a brilliant hot air balloon. The illustrations almost have a collage-like quality in my opinion. But what really gets me every time I read this story is the closing verse:
“And as you dream inside your sleep,
the fishes crooning in the deep, and
all the songbirds up above
will sleep and dream of you, my love,
of you, the one I love.”
I tear up. Every time. Without fail. I always try to hide it from my husband. I don’t know if he’s noticed yet or not, but it’s super embarrassing! I love this story.
The Tickle Tree (Meadowside PIC Board) by Chae Strathie and Poly Bernatene
Recommended Age: 2-4 years
This is a silly story that could rival Dr. Seuss. With funny made-up words, even the script adds a sense of magic as it trails in swirls across the page. To be honest, my tongue does trip over the words at times. But it’s fun to read nonetheless. The author describes all sorts of magical places and experiences, but by the end of the book, you discover that the only way to get there is through your dreams. Heck, it made me get excited for bedtime!
For more children’s book reviews, check out my posts 10 Children’s Books that Teach Friendship and Kindness and 8 Must Have Children’s Books About Art.
Questions of the Day:
- What are your children’s favorite bedtime books?
- Do you follow a bedtime routine with your children or for yourself?