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- Classic Bedtime Stories
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- Inspiring Bedtime Stories
It is time to sleep, and you cannot wait to hit the bed. You tuck in your little angels in bed and kiss them good night. As you turn away, a little voice says, “read us a story, mommy.” Despite being tired, you go back and pick up a book. Soon, you and the kids drift into a world of fiction, where elephants fly, frogs sing, lions dance and unicorns are real!
There is nothing more joyous than reading a short bedtime story for children. At MomJunction, we love telling stories. So here is our list of the best short bedtime stories for kids you can get your hands on.
27 Best Short Bedtime Stories For Children
Let’s begin with the classic bedtime stories for children that are about going to bed, saying ‘I love you’ and sleeping.
1. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You is a short story featuring two rabbits measuring their love for each other. It is a timeless tale that can teach and encourage your children to express their feelings of love and affection.
Little Nutbrown Hare and his daddy Big Nutbrown Hare are out in the woods when the little one says, “Guess How Much I Love You.” When his father says he couldn’t guess, Little Nutbrown Hare stretches his hands and says, “this much!” The Big Nutbrown Hare responds to this by extending his longer arms and says “But I love you this much.” Little Nutbrown Hare then reaches his hands up and says, “I love you as much as high as I can reach.” Big Nutbrown Hare does the same, and Little Nutbrown Hare says that is higher than he can reach!
Both the hares continue the conversation, comparing how much each loves the other and finally, Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep saying, “I love you right up to the moon.” Big Nutbrown Hare kisses the little one good night and says, “I love you to the moon and back.”
The illustrations by Anita Jeram are fantastic and detailed, with subtle colors and backgrounds.
2. Peace At Last by Jill Murphy
A short bedtime tale by Jill Murphy, Peace At Last is about a bear looking for a peaceful place to fall asleep.
It is night time, and Mr. Bear, Mrs. Bear, and Baby Bear are all sleepy. They go to bed, and Mrs. Bear starts snoring. Mr. Bear cannot sleep because of that noise and goes off to Baby Bear’s room, where he sees baby bear pretending to be an airplane and making noises like one. Mr. Bear says “Oh no!” and goes off trying to find peace in the living room, the kitchen, the garden, and the car, but finds no luck anywhere. By the time he comes back into the house and finds some peace in his bedroom, it is morning!
3. The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
The Going to Bed Book is a simple narrative about what children should do after nightfall. With colorful illustrations, the book is a great tool to teach your kids healthy habits.
It is evening, and the Sun has just set. All the animals on the ship go downstairs to the deck to take a bath, change into their pajamas (big and small), brush their teeth, stretch their bodies and exercise, and finally get to bed in their bunkers. They fall asleep as the boat is rocked by the gentle waves of the sea.
4. Is It Bedtime Wibbly Pig? by Mick Inkpen
Is It Bedtime Wibbly Pig? is written in a question-and-answer format, where the narrator asks little Wibbly pig if it is bedtime already? The story is about the cute and funny excuses that Wibbly gives to avoid going to bed!
Wibbly Pig is in the bath when the narrator asks if it is bedtime. Wibbly Pig replies, “No silly! I am still in the bath.” The narrator then asks if Wibbly has finished the bath and gets a reply, “No, I’m still drying my toes.” And so on the story goes, with the narrator asking her a set of leading questions about bedtime, and each time Wibbly manages to come up with an excuse. The story ends with Wibbly finally falling asleep with her cuddle buddies Flop the bunny, Pigley the pig and Dimple the teddy bear.
5. Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
Goodnight Gorilla is a funny bedtime story about a naughty gorilla in a zoo. The story is a good read that can put your kid in a lighter mood and relax.
The zookeeper goes on his nightly rounds to ensure all the animals are secured and safe inside their cages. He starts off by checking on the gorilla, a naughty one. The mischievous gorilla picks off the keys from the zookeeper and frees all the animals as they go along, tiptoeing behind him. The animals follow the sleepy zookeeper through the zoo and to his cottage. The animals settle themselves comfortably in the zookeeper’s bedroom.
The zookeeper’s wife wakes up when the animals sleepily say “good night” and is startled to see them in her room. She takes them all back to their cages, but the gorilla and his friend, the mouse, find their way back to the cottage and the bed, where they finally fall asleep.
Funny Bedtime Stories
Stress and anxiety can make it difficult for people to sleep (1). A little fun and laughter can help your child relax and ease into sleep peacefully. So, here is our selection of funny bedtime stories for kids.
6. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Interrupting Chicken is a story about a red chicken, which is so eager to finish a story that he interrupts it every time, much to the annoyance of his father.
Papa chicken is putting the red chicken to bed when the little one asks for a bedtime story. Papa chicken agrees to read a story but tells his son not to interrupt. Little red chicken agrees, and his father starts reading Hansel and Gretel. As Papa approaches the end, little red chicken gets excited and interrupts the story and finishes it too.
The little red chicken interrupts his father again when he reads Little Red Riding Hood and Chicken Little. In the end, Papa chicken runs out of stories and asks his son to read him a story instead. Chicken starts reading a story and in minutes, father is fast asleep and snoring in chicken’s bed!
7. Skippyjon Jones by Judith Byron Schachner
Skippyjon Jones is the tale of a mischievous Siamese cat, which has large ears, making it look like a Chihuahua. The wild imagination of the cat and his adventures make this an interesting read during bedtime.
Skippyjon Jones wakes up every morning with the birds, much to his mother Junebug Jones’ annoyance. Skippyjon loves to bounce on his big boy bed and doing so one day, he sees his reflection in the mirror. Looking at his reflection, Skippyjon decides that he is not a cat but a Chihuahua named Skippito. He puts on a mask and goes off into his world of imagination, where he meets a band of Chihuahuas in a Mexican desert and takes on a bandit named Bumblebeeto.
Lost in his wild imagination, Skippito makes a mess of his room instead of tidying it up. His mama looks at him fondly, sighs and says “What am I going to do with you, Mr. Cocopugs?” That night, Skippyjon bounces on his bed again, instead of going to sleep, to go on another adventure in his creative world.
Skippyjon Jones’ funny songs in a Spanish accent add to the fun factor in the story.
8. I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black
I’m Bored is a story about a girl who is whining about being bored. But that is until she meets a potato! The conversation is funny!
“I’m bored!” says the little girl, “Bored! Bored!” She then meets a potato, who looks at her and says “I’m bored.” The kid asks “How can a potato be bored?” “Because I’m with a kid and kids are boring.” When the little girl argues that kids are fun, the potato asks her to prove it. In that attempt, the little girl starts mentioning all the things children get to do to have a good time. Kids can do cartwheels, skip, spin around, play games, ninja kick, walk on hands and best of all, they can imagine!
The story is an attempt to remind kids what all they can do (even when they think it is boring) to have fun.
9. The Book With No Pictures by B.J Novak
The Book With No Pictures is hilarious and will make your kid burst out into laughter. The book has no pictures but makes it a fun read because of the ridiculous words and sounds it forces the reader to make.
The Book With No Pictures has no story. It starts off with the author saying that a book can be fun even if it does not have any pictures. The author then says that the kid to whom the book is being read to is smart because he chose this book, even though it does not have pictures! The author scores another point when he says that the book is to make adults say silly things and sound ridiculous, something that will make the child laugh out loud!
Get this book and read it along with your child: we guarantee you a laugh riot every night!
10. Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book by Julia Donaldson
Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book is a popular bedtime tale for kids that talks about the favorite books being read by the characters in the book. It is like finding treasures inside a box, inside another box and so on.
Charlie Cook is sitting in his favorite chair reading his favorite book, which is about a pirate chef who is stranded on an island and a treasure chest. The cook uses his hook to open the chest and finds his favorite book, about Goldilocks and the three bears. The bears find Goldilocks in Baby bear’s bed reading his favorite book, about Sir Percy Pilkington, a knight who finds his favorite book while fighting a dragon.
Princess Short Bedtime Stories For Kids
Little girls love playing princesses in fairy tales. But they also need strong role models. Our collection of short bedtime stories for girls is a mix of fun and courage to inspire your little girl through her growing years.
11. Sofia The First by Catherine Hapka
Sofia the First is a classic tale of a poor girl becoming a real princess with some luck. Only here, the mother marries a king to become the queen, and thus the daughter becomes a princess, a welcome twist from the usual princesses’ stories.
After her mom marries the king of Enchancia, Sophia becomes a princess but knows nothing about how to be one. Her new dad, King Roland gives her an enchanted amulet to keep her spirits up. He also says that she must wear it when they have the first dance at the royal ball the next night. Sofia does not know how to do the Waltz and is even more worried. She tries to learn dancing at school but fails after her step sister tricks her.
She seeks help from the royal sorcerer, tries a spell that goes awry, gets some advice from Cinderella who magically appears and befriends her step sister who teaches her to dance. In the end, Sofia learns that to be a princess, all she needs is a good heart, not dance lessons, dresses or knowing which fork to use at the dinner table.
12. Princess Jasmine’s Story
Princess jasmine’s Story is the story of a princess who wants to marry for love and how she finds it outside the royal palaces. If your kids have watched the Disney movie Aladdin, they would already know who we are talking about.
Jasmine, the princess of Agrabah, does not want to marry the prince chosen by her father. She runs away from home and meets Aladdin, a petty thief who impresses her. They become friends but soon Aladdin is jailed by the evil Jafar, the king’s minister. Jafar takes Aladdin to a cave, on a quest, where they find a magic lamp and a magic carpet. Jafar tries to take the magic lamp and leave Aladdin in the cave. But with his monkey’s help, Aladdin uses the lamp to escape from there.
The genie in the lamp makes Aladdin a prince. Soon he meets Princess Jasmine again, and they fall in love. Jafar tries to kill Aladdin, but Aladdin and Jasmine trick him into defeat. In the end, Jasmine marries Aladdin, her true love, even though he is not a prince.
13. The Dragon and The Princess
Ever heard of a princess who hated being one? Well, you will meet one in this story.
The princess of the faraway kingdom hates dressing up, combing her hair or doing anything that makes her presentable. She is a bad example to the kids in the kingdom, and always played mean tricks on the old knight. One night, a dragon comes to live in a cave near the kingdom. Hoping to create trouble for the old knight, the princess goes to the dragon and asks it to capture her.
To the princess’ surprise, the dragon is just the opposite of what it should be. She is calm, gentle and even plays the piano! The dragon and the princess soon realize that they are both different from what they should be and exchange places. The princess becomes the dragon and the dragon, the princess that everyone loved!
14. The Princess and The Pea
The Princess and The Pea is a classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. The story has interesting characters that will intrigue your children and make them want to hear the story until the end.
A young prince wants to marry a princess, but he wants one that is a “real” princess. So he travels to far away kingdoms but does not find the real princess of his dreams. He comes back to his kingdom, disheartened. A few days later, on a dark stormy night, a princess knocks the doors of the palace. She is in a disheveled state, with her dress, boots and hair all drenched and dirty.
To test if she is a real princess that her son wants, the queen puts a pea on the bed and lays 20 soft mattresses and 20 feather pillows on top of it. The princess sleeps on it that night but the next morning, she complains of having slept on something hard and uncomfortable. The queen determines that she is indeed a real princess, for who else can be so delicate!
15. The Paper Bag Princess
The Paper Bag Princess is an amazing story that points out dressing is not what makes a princess. It is intelligence, courage, and self-respect that make one.
Elizabeth is a princess who has a lot of beautiful clothes and shoes. She is engaged to marry Prince Ronald. One unfortunate day, a dragon attacks the castle and burns all of Elizabeth’s clothes and takes away Prince Ronald. Elizabeth finds that everything is burnt, except a paper bag. She makes it into a dress and sets off to rescue the prince.
At the dragon’s cave, Elizabeth uses her intelligence to outsmart the animal. She makes the dragon breathe fire and travel around the world so many times that in less than an hour, the dragon is too tired even to blink an eye. She goes into the cave to rescue Ronald, who is disgusted by the princess’ attire and asks her to come back neatly dressed. Offended, Elizabeth calls the prince a ‘bum’ and calls off the marriage.
Disney Bedtime Stories For Children
Disney stories are enchanting, whether they are adaptations of fairy tales or funny stories about cutely dressed mice, dogs or cats. This is our selection of some of the famous short bedtime stories for kids from the world of Disney.
16. Mickey, Minnie and The Gingerbread House
Mickey, Minnie, and the Gingerbread House is an adaptation of Hansel and Gretel in Disney style.
Mickey is an apprentice of the rude blacksmith and Minnie works for the mean baker. They are both poor, and unhappy with the way their employers treated them. But they are also in love with each other, and one day, they decide to run away into the forest. On their way, they see a Gingerbread house and seek refuge. An old woman opens the door and treats them kindly.
She feeds them until they are full and puts them in comfortable beds. The next morning, she shows them her true colors as the witch who stole the baker and the blacksmith’s hearts and fortunes. Minnie is made to knead dough and bake while Mickey is caged. When asked to light the oven, Minnie tricks the witch and pushes her into the fire. The couple escapes the witch with its employers’ hearts and fortune and lives happily ever after.
17. The Lion King
Another collection of great bedtime stories for children from the Disney studios is The Lion King. It is a story about a loving lion cub named Simba, who is separated from his parents and his pride as a baby.
Simba is the young cub of Lion King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. Mufasa’s jealous brother Scar wants the kingdom and plans to kill the king and the prince. Scar kills Mufasa and scares Simba away. Alone in the vast jungle, Simba befriends a meerkat Timon, and the warthog Pumba. They grow up protecting each other. One day, Simba runs into his childhood sweetheart Nala, who tells him about the sad state his kingdom is in.
After persuasion by the wise baboon Rafiki, Simba goes back to fight his uncle and get his kingdom back. With the help of his friends, he succeeds and becomes the king of the pride.
18. Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
Bears are meant to be cuddly, cute and loving. But Bruce, the bear, is anything but cuddly. Mother Bruce is one of Bruce series of bear tales by Higgins, promoted by Disney.
Bruce is a grumpy bear who did not like anything. He does not like rain or sunshine. He doesn’t even like cute little animals. But he likes eggs, cooked in different ways. One day he finds a recipe to cook goose eggs with salmon sauce and gets the necessary ingredients. He puts the eggs to boil in a pot, but his stove fizzles. While he is out collecting firewood, the eggs hatch and become goslings, who start believing that the bear is their mother.
The bear loses his appetite when he sees the little geese and takes them back to the nest. With the mother goose gone, the goslings follow Bruce back to his home. Unable to get rid of them, Bruce begins to take care of them. As days passed, the goslings grew into teenagers and then adult geese. Bruce tries to get rid of the adults by telling them about migration. But the geese just won’t leave him. Finally, Bruce and his geese migrate to Miami every winter.
Short Bedtime Stories About Friendship
Friendship is a beautiful experience that helps your children grow into thoughtful, kind and loving adults. These stories of friendship that we have collected will teach your kids the importance of friends and friendship in our lives.
19. Splat The Cat: Good Night, Sleep Tight by Rob Scotton
The first Splat the Cat board book released in 2008 and became a big hit with kids. Children loved Splat the Cat, and they could relate to him. The success encouraged the publishers to come up with a series of adventurous stories featuring Splat the Cat. We choose Good Night, Sleep Tight for bedtime reading.
Splat is all excited about his night of camping under the moonlight. His mom surprises him by inviting two of his friends, Spike and Plank, whom Splat is not very fond of. He tells his mom about his fear and she replies, “Everything will be just alright.” And so the three cats start camping under the moonlight.
The three cats have problems falling asleep: Plank’s sleeping bag is too tight, Splat is scared by the shadow of Spike outside his tent, and Spike is frightened when Splat’s pet mouse Seymour crawls up his leg. After the ordeal and comforting words from each other, the three friends finally fall asleep. In the end, everything turned out just alright!
20. George And Martha by James Marshall
The George and Martha book about friendship has five stories about two great friends.
George and Martha are two hippos and best friends. They learn through experience that friends should always tell each other the truth. The friends are also happy to spend time with each other, regardless of how ordinary they may be. Most importantly, even the best of friends need privacy once in a while. The stories also teach one of the most important responsibilities of friends: always to look on the bright side and always cheer up each other, without lying or deceit.
21. Poindexter Makes A Friend by Mike Twohy
The story of Poindexter is similar to the story of all shy kids who are scared of making friends until they make one. It is a great story about overcoming shyness.
Poindexter is a shy piglet who loved to read. He loves reading to his stuffed animal friends and visiting the library, where he can sit by himself and read a lot of books. One day, Poindexter meets Shelby, a shy turtle, in the library. He helps Shelby find a book on making friends and soon, they end up talking about what they like and don’t like. They quickly become friends and spend a lot of time together in Poindexter’s house, surrounded by stuffed toys and books.
22. Bob And Otto by Robert O. Bruel and Nick Bruel
Bob and Otto are two worms, who are friends. Bob is a caterpillar and has stripes on his colorful body while Otto is long and has pink skin.
Bob and Otto live near a tree. One spring day, Bob says he wants to climb the tree to see the world from above. Otto doesn’t understand Bob’s need to climb the tree because he loves digging into the earth and going underneath the soil. As Otto dug deeper and deeper into the ground, Bob climbed the tree, higher and higher above the ground. Tired, they both fall asleep and wake up after some time. Bob finds himself transformed into a colorful, beautiful butterfly while Otto is still the same.
The friends come back to the tree trunk to meet one day, but Otto feels a little insecure because of his friends’ new flying skills and improved looks. He tells this to Bob, who replies, “The soil loosened when you dug it, and the roots got more water allowing the tree to grow and sprout green leaves, which gave me the energy to become who I am today.”
Inspiring Bedtime Stories
Stories inspire, encourage and motivate us to do something that we love, something that makes us happy and to try new things. Here is a collection of such amazingly inspiring children’s bedtime stories you can read.
23. Harold And The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
What can you do with a crayon? If you add imagination to it, there is no limit to what you can do with it! The book is about the adventures that Harold goes on by using his purple crayon and his imagination.
It is night time, and Harold was not sleepy. He decides to take a walk under the moonlight. But there is no moon in the sky. Harold uses his purple crayon to draw the moon, a long straight path and starts walking. Midway, he cuts through the road into a farmland and to the woods. There, he draws an apple tree and a scary monster to guard that tree. But the monster is so scary that Harold runs away from there and finds himself in the ocean.
He continues his adventure using the purple crayon to draw a boat, an island, a mountain, a hot air balloon, a city with tall buildings and windows, a policeman and finally his house, bedroom window and his bed, where he falls asleep.
24. Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
How can a selection of bedtime stories for children not include one from Dr. Seuss? Here is one of the best, inspiring bedtime reading books from the Dr. Seuss collection.
Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a book of beautiful verses and colorful illustrations that appeal to kids. Each verse takes the child into the different stages of life, situations that he or she may face through the life and the choices they can make to deal with them. Dr. Seuss very subtly puts across important life lessons: you are your own master, you decide where to go and what to do. He also says that life is not always going to be fun, but you can stand up and keep moving ahead.
If you want your children to know that life is a balance of good and not-so-good things, but it can be fun through and through, so get this book for them.
25. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
A story about an engine, emphasizing on the fact that when you think you can, you can. A valuable lesson for the kids indeed!
A little red train carries toys and good food for the children on the other side of the mountain. All the toys including teddy bears, dolls, stuffed giraffes, a funny clown and a baby elephant are happy. Suddenly, the engine fails, and it cannot move at all. So the toys got off the cars and sought help from other passing engines: a passenger engine, a freight engine, a rusty old engine that believed it cannot.
Then came a little blue engine which thought “I can,” and she could. She pulled the train and the cars over the mountain and into the village, thus delivering the toys and food to the kids in time.
26. A Color Of His Own by Leo Lionni
When you find someone who is like you, you don’t feel alone or left out. The story by Leo Lionni is about a chameleon who has a problem accepting his gift of changing colors until he finds another chameleon just like him.
Every animal has its own color. But the chameleon doesn’t. One day, a chameleon was sitting on the tiger’s back when he thought of getting his own color. So he jumped onto the greenest leaf on a tree and sat on it. He was happy to be green. But soon it was autumn, and the leaf turned brown, and the chameleon turned brown. Later, it turned red, and the chameleon did too. When it fell off the tree, the chameleon fell on the grass and was green again.
There he met another chameleon, who was wiser and older. When the chameleons realized that they cannot have their color, they decided to stay together. At least, that way, they won’t be alone.
27. The Gruffalo
The Gruffalo is the tale of an intelligent mouse which makes up stories to keep itself safe from the wild and cruel animals in the forest.
One day, a mouse is walking in the woods when it meets a fox. The fox invites the mouse to its burrow, with the intention of eating it. The mouse, scared, declines the invitation politely and says that he is meeting his good friend, the Gruffalo, who has terrible claws, teeth, and tusks. The mouse adds that the Gruffalo’s favorite food is “roasted fox,” hearing which the animal runs away.
The mouse then encounters an owl and tells her the same story. The owl runs away when the mouse says that the Gruffalo’s favorite food is “Owl Ice Cream”. The mouse then finds a snake and tells her about the Gruffalo and his favorite food, which is “scrambled snake”. Ironically, the mouse runs into the Gruffalo for real and tricks him into believing that it is the most feared animal in the forest. With the Gruffalo scared and gone, the mouse walks on feeling safe and happy.
Disclaimer: MomJunction may earn a commission when products are purchased through affiliate links given in the article. However, this partnership does not influence the editorial content featuring in our list.
So, do you like our list of kids bedtime stories? Interesting, aren’t they? From talking animals to flying kids and mysterious worlds born out of a crayon, these bedtime stories are filled with fantasy, emotion, inspiration, and courage. Read them out loud to your kids, and we guarantee (98 and 3/4th percent) that you will fall in love with these books.
What is your child’s favorite bedtime story? Tell us about it here.
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