Top 10 Best Bedtime Stories for Children

These gentle, heart-warming stories are sure to help little ones drift off into peaceful slumber. See below for the best bedtime stories for children, featuring classic and contemporary tales by beloved storytellers such as Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson.

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1. The Gruffalo

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Featuring the famous half-grizzly bear, half-buffalo, this tale follows a brave little mouse, who believes the Gruffalo is nothing but fantasy - until he comes face-to-face with him! Complete with distinctive illustrations by Axel Scheffler, this story is guaranteed to delight little ones at bedtime and be remembered forever.

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2. Five Minutes' Peace

Jill Murphy

This much-loved story is great for sharing with children at bedtime to help them settle down ready for sleep. It tells the tale of the Large family, a family of elephants. Mrs Large just wants a little time to herself, but her excitable children have other ideas! Can she get just five minutes' peace?!

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3. Goodnight Moon

Margaret Wise Brown

Published in 1947, this classic bedtime story continues to soothe children and prepare them for sleep. Join a sleep-resistant little bunny as he says goodnight to all the objects in his room. This story gently signals to little ones that it's time for sleep, and they can say goodnight to all the objects in their own rooms, knowing that the world has gone to sleep and they're not missing anything!

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4. Time Now to Dream

Timothy Knapman

This gorgeous picture book will reassure anxious children that not everything new is scary. When siblings Jack and Alice hear a strange noise in the woods, Jack is afraid, certain it must be the Wicked Wolf with big, bad claws and snap-trap jaws. Alice, however, can barely hide her excitement, and goes with Jack into the heart of the forest. They'll soon discover what was making that sound... was it really a wolf?

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5. Tales from Acorn Wood

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

From the dream team behind The Gruffalo, the Tales of Acorn Wood stories are cherished favourites with little ones. This large-format book contains three of the most popular stories: Postman Bear, Hide-and-Seek Pig and Rabbit's Nap. Plus, there are fun flaps to lift alongside the wonderful rhyming text.

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6. The Darkest Dark

Chris Hadfield

Popular astronaut Chris Hadfield tells an uplifting story about a little boy who dreams of flying into space, despite a dreadful fear of the dark! His name? Chris! Young Chris knows that when bedtime arrives, the worst sort of alien appears... darkness! But when he watches the first televised moon landing, he realises that the dark isn't scary at all, because even where the darkest dark is, out there in space, it's actually very exciting! With gorgeous artwork and an otherworldly feel, this book will enchant little ones at bedtime.

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7. Beep, Beep, Beep, Time for Sleep!

Claire Freedman

Young fans of diggers and big machines will love this machine-themed book. With bright, bold illustrations and a sleepy story, this picture book follows some tired machines as they power down after a busy day on the building site and dim their lights for the night. Featuring a pull-out scene in the centre pages, this charming, rhyming story is sure to help little ones settle down, and shows them that even machines need sleep!

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8. The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter

Mischievous little Peter Rabbit decides to venture into Mr McGregor's vegetable garden to munch on some carrots - and narrowly escapes a frightening fate! Peter Rabbit has been the nation's most beloved little bunny since 1902, making this the perfect story to read at bedtime.

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9. Peep Inside: Beauty and the Beast

Usborne

This mesmerising book features die-cut artwork, laser-cut holes, flaps, cutaways and lots of sumptuous illustrations. When Belle's father stumbles upon the Beast's castle, he is taken prisoner, and Belle must rush to the rescue. She agrees to take her father's place, but once she gets to know the Beast, she sees beyond his rough, tough exterior, and helps him unearth his human side once more. This beautiful book is sure to captivate little ones.

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10. The Snail and the Whale

Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

This story follows a courageous little sea snail who - despite the other snails' qualms - wants to explore the world! She hitches a ride on the back of an enormous whale, and the pair set off on an incredible journey, past icebergs, volcanoes and golden beaches. But suddenly, the whale finds itself beached in a bay! Can the tiny snail save him? This exciting and gorgeously-illustrated story is full of fun and friendship, perfect for bedtime.

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  • RIX2 3 years +
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    The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the first in Beatrix Potter's series of 23 books.

    It tells the tale of a mischievous young rabbit who narrowly escapes a frightening fate when he ventures into Mr McGregor's vegetable garden.

    With beautiful illustrations and an affectionate and touching storyline, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is totally deserving of its iconic status in children's literature. This book would make a lovely gift for children aged 3 and above.
  • Peep Inside: Beauty and the Beast - Hardback - 9781474920544
    PIBB 3 years +
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    Beauty and the Beast is one of the classic fairy tales and this book brings it up to date with stunning die-cut artwork and laser-cut holes and cutaways.

    When Belle's inventor father stumbles upon the Beast's castle and is taken prisoner, she comes to the rescue and agrees to take his place. She manages to see beneath the Beast's exterior and helps him discover his human side once again...

    Perfect for sharing, the intricate images and holes make this book one that will enchant the whole family.
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    Julia Donaldson's The Gruffalo has become one of the most recognisable characters in children's picture books and on kids' TV, and this story is an essential addition to any child's bookshelf.

    Witty pictures from Axel Scheffler, a glorious rhyme that will soon be learned by heart, a brave mouse and the most lovable scary monster ever... what's not to love? Readers aged 3 and over, not to mention Mum and Dad, will soon be hooked!
  • BEEP 3 years +
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    Young children who are fascinated by diggers and the big machines they see on the road will love Beep Beep Beep Time for Sleep by Claire Freedman, the author of Aliens Love Underpants.

    Boldly illustrated by Richard Smythe, the picture book follows the tired machines as they settle down after a busy day on the the building site and dim their lights ready for the night.

    Complete with a pull-out scene in the centre pages, this is a charming and rhyming bedtime story that will settle down kids and show them that workers and their vehicles need sleep just as much as they do!
  • TACW 3 years +
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    From Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the team behind The Gruffalo, the Tales from Acorn Wood books are toddler favourites and this large-format gift book contains three of the most popular stories.

    Very young children will be highly entertained as they read Postman Bear, Hide-and-Seek Pig and Rabbit's Nap. Every spread in this bind-up has flaps to lift to add extra interaction, while the rhyming text is flowing and very satisfying to read aloud.
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    A brother and sister head into the woods and hear a strange noise. Although Jack is afraid, Alice is determined to find out who - or what - made it...

    From Timothy Knapman, the author of Soon and Helen Oxenbury, illustrator of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, this is a traditional picture book that will reassure anxious children that not everything new is scary.

    While Jack's certain it's the Wicked Wolf with big, bad claw and snap-trap jaws making the sounds, Alice can barely hide her excitement. She grabs his hand and they move right into the heart of the forest. Of course, they eventually do find out what's made that mysterious sound...
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    Familiar and very funny, Jill Murphy's Five Minutes' Peace is a picture book that appeals equally to toddlers and their put-upon parents.

    It tells the story of the Large family and, in particular, Mrs Large who just wants to take a moment to get away from the chaos of looking after so many excitable children.

    Now the classic story has been given an extra interactive element in the form of this sound book. It has eight noisy buttons that children will love to press and play as they read through the book.
  • The Darkest Dark - Hardback - 9781509824083 - Chris Hadfield
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    Popular astronaut Chris Hadfield (you may know him as 'the singing spaceman') tells a heart-warming story about a young boy who dreamed of being flying into space despite being scared of the dark. That boy's name? Chris...

    Chris is a busy astronaut who knows that saving the planet from aliens is far more important than trivial stuff like taking baths or going to bed... he's also fully aware that it's at bedtime when the worst sort of alien appears - darkness!

    But then Chris watches the first televised moon landing and realises he doesn't have so be scared of the dark. Space is the darkest dark there is - and it's also the most exciting place in the solar system.

    With its anecdotal feel and out-of-this-world artwork from the Fan Brothers, this is a reassuring, fun and exciting picture book for any child who dreams of exploring space!
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    Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler combine once more to magical effect with the unforgettable The Snail and the Whale.

    Full of adventure and friendship, the rhyming story follows a tiny snail who wishes to sail. To do this, he hitches a ride on an enormous whale and the duo head on an amazing journey past icebergs, volcanoes, sharks and penguins. Bu then disaster strikes and the whale finds itself beached in a bay... can the snail save the day?

    This special edition of the Gruffalo team's classic has a stunning, redesigned cover and a beautiful finish.
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    Although Goodnight Moon was first published more than 50 years ago, it is clearly an enduring bedtime classic (recently being reference in both the film Life and the Netflix series Orange if the New Black) and this board book edition is sure to be a beloved favourite.

    Young babies will adore the simple rhyming text and the repetition of the words as the little, sleep-resistant bunny whispers goodnight to all the familiar objects in his room. This is the ideal story to add to your child's winding-down bedtime routine.

    Fans of Goodnight Moon will also love Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.