Most child sleep expert advice is debatable: Let them cry it out. Check on them, but don’t touch. Stop giving them a nightcap. But one thing all experts and non-experts, like yourself, can agree on is that bedtime should include a book. So turn on the white noise machine, light up the night lights, and check out these 10 yawn-inducing (for them, not you) children’s books you should stack on the nightstand.
A Book Of Sleep
After reading this book you’ll probably start to identify with the watchful owl, who gets to watch all the other animals — presumably without children — go to sleep. Among his discoveries are creatures that sleep standing up, creatures that huddle together, and even some that “sleep” with both eyes open. If the metaphor isn’t obvious, you are this owl.
Ages: 3 – 7
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na ($16)
Buried in the absurd canon of Dr. Seuss, this book is one of the doctor’s sleeper hits (#punderdome). It recounts the tale of the smallest bug, Van Vleck, who yawns so wide you can see down his neck. That sets off a contagious chain reaction that spreads through a predictably Seussian world of Sleepwalking Curious Crandalls and messy nest building Biffer-Baum Birds. Eyelids getting heavy? Time to bust out the thneed blanket.
Ages: 5 – 9
Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book ($9)
If you have a kid who wants to grow up to drive a bulldozer (or just be a bulldozer), Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is the perfect primer before life comes along and puts a wrecking ball to that dream. In this bedtime tale, the big machines show your little construction worker just how they tuck themselves away for the night. After all, tomorrow is another big day of catcalling and union mandated coffee breaks.
Ages: 2 – 6
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld ($12)
Little Owl’s Night
Texas-based writer and illustrator Divya Srinivasan has some pretty awesome credits to her name, including animator on Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and contributor to the New Yorker. But Owl’s Night, her third children’s book, isn’t that bougie. It teaches your preschooler the simple lesson that nighttime is the right time, as Little Owl watches a skunk, frog and hedgehog friend have fun in the wee hours. Because kids should know there’s lots of fun things you can do in the dark. Like laser tag.
Ages: 3 – 5
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan ($13)
Dreams Come True All They Need Is You
What can a former international tax consultant teach your kids about dreams? In Mike Dooley’s micro epic, 3 dreaming friends travel through the night by hot air balloon, learning life lessons such as how to avoid being exposed in a Panama Papers release. Or, more relevant lessons like fair play, kindness, and respect. You know, Tax Consulting 101.
Ages 4 – 8
Dreams Come True All They Need is You! by By Mike Dooley and Virginia Allen ($13)
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama tackles the anxiety your child might feel being left alone at night. Shortly after being put to bed, baby llama has some serious llama drama, afraid of what might happen while mama llama is away. Mama Llama has to gallop back (or however llamas run) to assure her baby that she’s never far away. It’s a good message to your kid that once the bedroom door closes there won’t be an alpacalypse.
Ages: 3 – 5
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney ($11)
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime
Nothing can stop this little red dinosaur. Not a bowl of spaghetti. Not a big slide. Not even grownups who desperately want to sleep. Because, despite his big head and little arms, all of this dino’s foes submit to his chomps and roars. After a big day of romping and stomping can he defeat his biggest nemesis — bed? If this doesn’t put your kid to sleep, hopefully it will at least distract them like a T. Rex with a road flare.
Ages: 2 – 5
Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime by Bob Shead ($7)
Sleep Like A Tiger
When it’s time for bed, a young princess insists repeatedly she’s not ready in this imaginative, yet completely familiar story. Featuring Caldecott Honor-winning illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski, Sleep Like A Tiger will plant a subliminal message in your kid’s head with cat-like stealth. Because in this story, the princess’s super chill folks don’t make her go to bed, they just relate a story about how awesome tigers are when they doze off. She eventually decides she’ll go sleep on her own terms, and it isn’t just because tigers are awesome. (But they’re awesome.)
Ages: 4 – 7
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski ($12)
You probably can recite the short and sweet rhythm of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic already. But if you haven’t read this book a million f–king times, it’s the story of a sleepy rabbit saying goodnight to everything in his great green room, including your kid. Although even a toddler has to ask, why does a bunny need both a comb and brush?
Ages: 4 – 8
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise-Brown and Clement Hurd ($6)
Why wouldn’t you spend $10 on what could be the Rosetta Stone of bedtime? Swedish author Carl-Johan Borssén Ehrlin claims that his story of a restless young rabbit(side note: What’s with all the rabbits?) whose mother takes him to visit the wizard Uncle Yawn uses a unique and distinct language pattern that causes children to go to sleep. It’s what’s known in the biz as the “Morgan Freeman effect.”
Ages: 3 – 7
The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin ($10)