Ahh, sleep – that ever-elusive dream state that we wish everyone in the family could enjoy more often. In celebration of Sleep Week we have rounded up 10 of the best bedtime books to get small heads nodding off to la la land.
There are few deeper joys than snuggling up at bedtime for a story. Reading helps boost verbal and literacy skills and the rhythmic pace of a good bedtime book can help lull little ones into a (hopefully) deep sleep. Here are some of our favourite bedtime books.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
My little girl is obsessed with trucks and tractors and diggers, so Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is a welcome variation on the usual sleepy rabbits and sheep. One by one, the hard-working vehicles at the construction site power down at the end of another long day. Images of the concrete mixer with his blankie and the digger hugging a teddy are sure to delight little ones as they join in saying “shhh… goodnight” to each of their favourite vehicles.
Too Busy Sleeping
Too Busy Sleeping is an Australian book ideal for children with a new baby sibling on the way. When Eleanor’s parents bring her new baby brother home, she wants to play with him and take him everywhere but, you guessed it, he’s too busy sleeping. It is a book about patience and love, but also about getting lots and lots of sleep. Ah, to be a baby once again.
We couldn’t have a bedtime book roundup without including this favoured classic that has been by children’s bedsides since 1947. Goodnight Moon is a rhyming poem with pictures is about saying goodnight to everything around you – “goodnight room, goodnight moon… goodnight light and the red balloon…”. It has a lovely lulling pace and simple, colourful pictures that children have enjoyed for generations.
A more humorous and contemporary take on this classic is Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (a playful pseudonym of children’s author David Milgram). In this book the poem says goodnight to all the gadgets in the house – “goodnight remotes and Netflix streams, Androids, apps and glowing screens” – a fun bedtime read for modern children.
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep
You may have heard the buzz around this book, which is hailed as a bit of a miracle trick for getting children to sleep. The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep is authored by a Swedish behavioural scientist who claims it is designed to make children fall asleep by using a hypnotic verbal pace. Some parents hail it as a miracle, others say it’s just a nice story – I’m happy to give anything a go if it could mean a peaceful night’s sleep!
Shhh! I’m Sleeping
A colourful board book perfect for toddlers, Shhh! I’m Sleeping is also great for children who share a room. In this delightful story from French author/illustrator Dorothée de Monfreid, several animals must share a room and find themselves in a hilarious game of musical beds as they try to get some sleep. This is a fun read with lots happening in the illustrations. Originally published in French, you can find an English version for $20 at Gecko Press.
Mem Fox and Emma Quay, two highly celebrated children’s authors, have come together to create this downright adorable book suitable for newborns and up (that’s everyone, right?). Baby Bedtime follows a loving lullaby of a bedtime routine as mother takes her child to bed. The heart-warming story is brought to life by bright, textured illustrations from Emma Quay that result in a delightful book sure to be handed down through the generations.
Go to Sleep, Jessie!
Sharing a room with a toddler sibling can be quite the adventure. This beautiful book by Libby Gleeson is illustrated by the acclaimed Freya Blackwood and the results of this collaboration are immaculate. The blue hues used in the images are perfect for setting a sleepy mood, and the story is certainly one to which many young people can relate. Go to Sleep, Jessie! is such a lovely bedtime read, especially for kids who share a room.
We all know that feeling when you’re exhausted but your attempts at sleep keep getting interrupted, and that is exactly the kind of night Bear is having in Goodnight, Already! Poor Bear is ready to hit the hay but his friend Duck is full of energy. The fun interactions between these two are wonderfully illustrated and the pictures and text work together well, creating lots of room for giggles. By the time Bear finally gets some sleep, hopefully your little one will be feeling his relief and be ready to nod off too.
B is for Bedtime
A soothingly rhythmic verse meanders through the alphabet with a list of sleepy words. B is for Bedtime, M is for Moon, Y is for Yawn – this gorgeous book takes little ones from A to Zzzz. Not only is this a lovely bedtime read for even the smallest of sleepers, but it also makes a great baby shower gift. The soft coloured mixed-media illustrations give this book a delicate feel that welcomes weariness. You can find a copy of B is for Bedtime at Booktopia for $19, plus delivery.