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Refresh Your Bookshelves: New Bedtime Favorites

When you’re searching for a particular type of book, it’s easy to reach for ones you already know again and again. So many incredible books exist, and yet so often, the most read books are ones that have been popular for decades.

This series was designed to make space for new voices and characters to shine and uplift the next generation of readers. To help you find that just right “new to you” book that becomes an instant favorite, a book you want to share with everyone you know.

This month's focus is bedtime stories. We know that reading to kids daily has profound impacts on their language development, thinking skills and empathy and understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Reading as part of a bedtime routine strengthens connections and bonds between children and caregivers, and is the perfect way to end a busy day. So next time, before reaching for Goodnight Moon or Where the Wild Things Are, check out one of these new and inclusive bedtime stories.

For our full list of recommendations, you can visit our Bookshop page. If you’d like, you can also support us by purchasing these bedtime stories from our wish list. We cannot wait to get more books like these into the hands of children in our community.

Board Books


Author: Sandra J. Howatt | Illustrator: Joyce Wan | Publisher: Little Simon

Sleepyheads is an adorable book for the youngest readers. Its soothing illustrations and rhythmic sentences feel like a warm hug. In this story, you’ll encounter a variety of animals snuggled into their sleepytime beds - can you help find the baby at the end?

Bedtime, Not Playtime

Author: Lawrence Schimel | Illustrator: Elina Braslina | Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Can the main character resist playing with her dog, Rex, instead of getting ready for bed? According to School Library Journal, this is a playful new take on a perennial topic. We especially love that the main character has two daddies - it's in no way a main feature of the story, just something that is and we think that really matters.

10 Kisses Before Bedtime

Author: Danielle McLean | Illustrator: AG Jatkowska | Publisher: Tiger Tales

Little hands will love touching this book and exploring all the different textures throughout. In 10 Kisses Before Bedtime, you’ll meet diverse kids who are getting ready for bed - putting away their toys, brushing their teeth, taking a bath, etc. This sweet and familiar story will become a toddler bedtime favorite.

Hola, mi luna

Author: Mar Benages Ortiz | Illustrator: Neus Caamano | Publisher: A buen paso editorial S.L.

In this Spanish board book, the baby is fast asleep and traveling to all types of magical and spectacular places in their dreams. This is a beautiful and playful book that is perfect for Spanish speaking families and bilingual children.

You can find more Spanish and bilingual book recommendations on this Bookshop page.

Picture Books

Mushroom Lullaby

Author/Illustrator: Kenneth Kraegel | Publisher: Candlewick

This book is so imaginative - it’s truly unmatched when it comes to quirky cuteness! It starts out by introducing the reader to different types of mushrooms before eventually zooming in on an adorable mushroom home for you and friends. The illustrations are full of whimsical details and the text is rhythmic and lovely. Mushroom Lullaby invites us all on a soothing journey that’s perfect for reading before bed.

The Best Bed For Me

Author/Illustrator: Gaia Cornwall | Publisher: Candlewick

It’s time for bed and Sweet Pea is not quite ready. Would they be more comfortable sleeping high in a tree like a koala? Or maybe hanging upside down like a bat? After trying out all different ways animals rest, this little one ultimately decides that their comfy bed and soft pillow is the best one. This book also features incidental queer representation with this loving two-mom family and a child who has not been assigned a specific gender or binary pronouns.

Bedtime Bonnet

Author/Illustrator: Nancy Redd | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

From the publisher, “This joyous and loving celebration of family is the first-ever picture book to highlight Black nighttime hair traditions--and is perfect for every little girl who knows what it's like to lose her bonnet just before bedtime.

Bedtime Bonnet gives readers a heartwarming peek into quintessential Black nighttime hair traditions and celebrates the love between all the members of this close-knit, multi-generational family.”

The Worst Teddy Ever

Author/Illustrator: Marcelo Verdad | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

The Worst Teddy Ever is sure to make your little one laugh out loud! Noa is so frustrated that Teddy is always too tired to play during the day. He doesn’t know that Teddy is busy protecting him every night from a cast of unwelcome nighttime characters. This story is as funny as it is endearing, and is a good reminder that expectations can keep us from seeing others as they truly are.

This book is also available in Spanish.

Happy Dreams, Little Bunny

Author/Illustrator: Leah Hong | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This book is the perfect bedtime story for imaginative dreamers. At bedtime, Little Bunny is too busy thinking about things and pondering all sorts of questions to fall asleep. Mommy reminds her little bunny that “sometimes our thoughts can be turned into happy dreams . . . where anything is possible.” The gentle illustrations and peaceful storyline make this a really wonderful book to read right before drifting off to dreamland.

Time for Bed, Old House

Author: Janet Costa Bates | Illustrator: A.G. Ford | Publisher: Candlewick

Isaac is sleeping over at Grandpop’s for the first time and is both excited to, and nervous about being away from home. Grandpop senses this in him, so when it’s almost time for bed, he asks Isaac to help him put the house to bed - quietly turning off lights, pulling down the shades, and getting it ready for a restful night of sleep.

We love the relationship between Isaac and his Grandpop, and how universal it is to feel anxious about something new - it always helps when someone you love is there to help you through it.


Author/Illustrator: Sophie Blackall | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This book will bring a tear to your eye - it’s a gorgeous “reimagination of people in a long-past time and place.” Farmhouse shows us how the places we live are the keepers of our most precious memories.

Sophie was inspired to create this story after discovering an abandoned farmhouse. It inspired her to learn about the people who once called this place home. This book is about the real home and family of fourteen that lived, loved and changed within its walls. It just feels like a bedtime story to us (and there’s a really fantastic spread when all twelve children are tucked into their beds).

Everybody in the Red Brick Building

Author: Anne Wynter | Illustrator: Oge Moro | Publisher: Balzer + Bray

This book is the perfect bedtime story to read aloud with so much fun onomatopoeia. At first, all sorts of different sounds wake up children in their apartment building. Things get very loud and silly until eventually, everyone settles back into their beds and falls asleep. Your children will love making the various sounds in this story, and all of the bright and bold illustrations.

Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep

Author: JaNay Brown-Wood | Illustrator: Elissambura | Publisher: Charlesbridge

From the publisher, “Baby is finally asleep. But everyone is much too loud! Can Mom, Daddy, Grammy, Pop Pop, Shae, Dante, Rover the dog, and even the neighbor keep quiet? Just when they think they can rest—oh no. The baby's awake. One savvy little narrator knows just the way to make his baby sister fall back asleep: by reading her a good book!

A hilarious cast of characters will keep readers laughing throughout this amusing celebration of early literacy and intergenerational family relationships.”


Author: Susanna Leonard Hill | Illustrator: Betsy Snyder | Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Do you have a child who is interested in learning about the alphabet? It comes as no surprise that this book is an excellent choice for introducing and practicing letters! The Alpha family has 26 children (that’s right, kids from A-Z!), and they all need to be tucked in for bed. The silly antics and bedtime chaos is relatable for all caregivers, and will be a fun and engaging way to wind down for your own little one’s bedtime.

While You Sleep

Author: Jennifer Maruno | Illustrator: Miki Sato | Publisher: Pajama Press

From the publisher, “As the day ends and a little girl is put to sleep by her mother, night-helper bunnies work their magic to tidy and polish the world. These helpers paint flowers, dust butterflies, and charge rainbows to make the world a beautiful place to wake up to.

Miki Sato’s collage art, which combines paper, textiles, and embroidery silk, creates a three-dimensional dream world that is rich in detail and texture. Jennifer Maruno uses soothing rhyming couplets that celebrate the beauty of nature, creating a uniquely magical world.”


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