TEN COZY AND MAGICAL BEDTIME PICTURE BOOKS by Megan Wagner Lloyd
I’m about five years old, and my dad has just declared it to be bedtime. But I want to stay up late! After all, a dear family friend, who always spoils us kids with gifts, is visiting.
“But I’m not tir—” I begin—
And interrupt myself with a massive yawn.
My dad and our guest can’t help laughing as I scowl in frustration. My sleepy body has betrayed me! I didn’t mean to yawn! I’m not tired!
I hate bedtime!
Going to bed and falling asleep are major challenges for many kids (which must be why I still remember the above anecdote decades later!). Bedtime seems boring—an end to all the fun and possibility of the day—and then there’s that whole scared-of-the-dark business to deal with.
We all know that bedtime reading can help settle our little ones into sleep. But I think that books that highlight the cozy, magical, and even adventurous aspects of nighttime can be especially helpful in dispelling fears and making going to sleep feel safe, peaceful . . . and even a little bit exciting. Read on for some of my favorites!
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
Little Star is at home in the dark night sky, falling asleep easily. But when she wakes up in the middle of the night? She can’t resist snacking on the mooncake her mama made. Step by step, Little Star’s nightly nibbles cause the phases of the moon in this gentle story.
Wynken, Blynken and Nod written by Eugene Field, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
One of my favorites when I was little, Susan Jeffers’ illustrated version of Eugene Fields’ poem turns children into flying adventurers fishing the night sky for stars, until, at last, they sail back home, and to sleep.
Another by Christian Robinson
Bedtime seems simple enough for the cheery protagonist of Another . . . but when a mysterious other world beckons, it must to be explored in all its creative and colorful wonder. A thoughtful book with illustrations that kids will pore over.
The Midnight Library by Kazuho Kohara
What if a library was only open at night? And, better yet, if it was also run by a kid librarian who helped animal patrons? A sweet story that will leave kids planning their own midnight libraries.
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin
Falling asleep feels much more welcoming when going to bed means that you will embark on nighttime adventures with your very own dream animal. A magical and serene bedtime read.
The House in the Night written by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated Beth Krommes
This cozy and quiet story, with dark illustrations warmed by splashes of golden yellow, emphasizes the warmth and light of home in the night.
Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies
Humans sleep at night, but what about bats? Well, they go to the beach! Nighttime can’t be that scary if it’s also a silly time for bats to picnic, surf, and build sandcastles. (“Don’t forget the moon-tan lotion!”)
Lullaby (For a Black Mother) written by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Starry, sweeping illustrations seem to wrap mother and child in safety and love in this illustrated version of Langston Hughes’ poem.
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
In this wordless story, a child has the power to both reveal the animals of the night and be reminded of the colors of the day, all with a handy-dandy flashlight.
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein
A boy wonders at the many differences the night brings to his house and yard, culminating in a beautiful, bursting transition from night to day.
In Paper Mice, illustrated by Phoebe Wahl, two brand-new paper mice explore a dark house at night, only to discover the very best surprise of all: each other.
Megan’s upcoming books include the picture book The ABCs of Catching Zs and the middle grade graphic novel Allergic. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area. You can find her on Instagram at @meganwagnerlloyd and online at meganwagnerlloyd.com.