Bedtime Stories for Every Age

Sarah Harris

I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but in our house, the hour leading up to Bedtime is The Worst. As soon as dinner ends it seems, the kids who played happily all afternoon, are suddenly in a constant state of conflict. They bicker, they argue, they wrestle (and, of course, someone inevitably ends up in tears), and yet they insist “We can’t go to bed yet! We haven’t finished our game!”

Those same kids, who made good choices and followed directions reasonably well during the day, are suddenly incapable of even the simplest of tasks: putting clothes in a hamper, putting on jammies, or brushing teeth. They require ten reminders and literal hand-holding. We, the parents, who have been more or less patient and kind and understanding most of the day, find ourselves getting frustrated and using voices that are in no way conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep.

What is it about that time of the day?

Is it that, by that point, we’re all just too tired? Too tired to handle the demands of washing and dressing independently? Too tired to respond to meltdowns with patience and serenity? Maybe.

I don’t know how it ends in your house, but in our house, no matter how miserable the lead-up to Bedtime is, actual Bedtime somehow pulls it off in the end. Actual Bedtime is My Favorite.

In our house, Bedtime is a process. A long process. But it’s that way by choice. My husband and I do a bit of a round robin, each of us spending a few minutes of one-on-one time with each of our three kiddos. He plays a quiet game with Legos with the biggest boy, sings songs and tells stories with our second boy, and snuggles with our littlest girl.

I know he loves his quiet moments with our kids, but I win…because I’m in charge of Bedtime Reading.

What is it about Bedtime Reading?

Is it the cozy warmth of lamplight and comforters? The sweet smell of freshly-shampooed heads? The sharing of stories with your child…discovering, together, secret literary worlds within the pages of a book? The quiet, the peace, the deep exhale of there’s a glass of wine downstairs with my name on it as soon as we finish this chapter…

Yes. Yes, it is.

Bedtime Reading is the best part of even the hardest day. The saving grace of frayed nerves and grumpy moods. Through our seven and a half years of Bedtime Reading, we’ve read a lot of books. It helps that our family inherited the classroom library I had built as a kindergarten teacher. It helps even more that I have a bit of a book-buying problem. It helps the most that we live within walking distance of a fabulously well-stocked library.

Now, I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but in our house, we’ve encountered more than a few Bedtime Reading duds. Books that seem to go on…and on…forever. Books that provoke endless questions from the little listener beside you. Books that, by the third reading, make you want to scream in agony over the asinine text.

This post contains affiliate linksIf you’ve found yourself in a Bad Bedtime Book spiral, I might be able to help. I’ve compiled a list of some of our family’s favorite bedtime stories. These stories will make you forget the bathtime hell you just endured. They will invite your littlest loves want to snuggle up sweetly beside you and, best of all, you won’t mind reading these gems over and over…and over…again.

For the little ones, who have graduated from board books and are ready for simple text and gorgeous pictures…

Mommy Mine by Tim Warnes

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

Kiss Kiss by Margaret Wild and Bridget Stephens-Marzo

Little Quack by Derek Anderson

Piggies by Audrey Wood and Don Wood

Puff the Magic Dragon illustrated by Peter Yarrow

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

For the little-bit-bigger ones, who are ready for plot-driven stories…

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes (Really, anything by this author/illustrator. He’s the best.)

The Boy With Pink Hair by Perez Hilton

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Elmer by David McKee

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael Kaplan

Gotta Go, Gotta Go by Sam Swope (This is not a Potty Training book! It’s about the monarch butterfly migration.)

The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst

My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza

The Octonauts a series by Meomi

The Elephants’ Ears by Catherine Chambers

For the bigger ones, who are ready for chapter books…

The Nate the Great Series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

The Cam Jansen Series by David A. Adler

The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osbourne

Unusual Creatures by Michael Hearst

For the independent reader, who loves a good Bedtime Read-Aloud as much as his younger brother and sister…

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

The 13-Story Treehouse (and the sequel, The 26-Story Treehouse) by Andy Griffiths

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

And of course, the one I’m holding out on…the one I won’t introduce too early lest the depth of its awesomeness be lost on my not-yet-ready reader…

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I can’t wait for that day.

But until then, the kids are sound asleep and there’s a glass of wine around here with my name on it.

Bedtime Stories for EVERY age

This post was written by Sarah Harris exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

When she's not building amazing Lego creations, replacing tiny shoes upon Barbie's feet, or dancing to the latest Taylor Swift album with her kids, Sarah, a former kindergarten teacher, is sipping hot coffee and Writing. Her blog, Live, Laugh, and Learn began as a memory-keeper of her young children's rapidly changing lives. Now, because it is a place to store all of the extra words in her head, her blog also serves the purpose of keeping her sane. In addition to her blog, Sarah has written for Scary Mommy and Mommy Hot Spot, will have her work included in a humor anthology, due out later this year, and is in talks to have her first children's book published in 2016.