top of page

Bedtime Reads for Reluctant Sleepers

Sometime bedtime is a challenge. Sometimes bedtime is a horror. These are some titles that I've collected that I think would be excellent for storytimes. Some have elaborate illustrations, some don't, and all are meant to be enjoyed at the leisure of the reader and the read too, whether that's in one night or one hundred. Hopefully they will make you want to curl up in bed for another installment! 

The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep

Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin (2015)

Fair warning, this book will actually make everyone fall asleep. It's boring, I think it's poorly written, but honestly, that's the point. It uses research, strategic yawning, and repetition to trick listeners (and readers) into falling asleep. Reader, be warned!

Rejected Princesses

Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics
Jason Porath (2016)

These women are fierce, strong, feisty, and often revolutionaries, they are also all based on a true story! If you don't want your child to learn about a 5th Century Danish princess turned pirate, or about a former Chinese prostitute who commanded a fleet of more that 70,000 ship this book may not be for you. If however you are keen on raising a child with some awesome and kick ass female figures look no further! You may also enjoy the sequel: Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History's Mightiest Matriarchs by the same author. 



Paul O. Zelinsky (2004)

This beautifully illustrated version of the classic fairytale is stunning. I believe that a lot of the Disney Movie Tangled finds its roots in this particular version of the story. Exploring possessiveness rather than punishment, Rapunzel is a coming of age story about what happens when a parent is not ready for their child to grow up. 


Kinuko Y. Craft (2000)

Masterfully illustrated and inspired by the artwork of 17th Century France, this classic retelling of Cinderella is beautiful and magical.

The 3 Little Dassies

Jan Brett (2010)

Three Little Dassies is a Namibian twist on the classic Three Little Pigs story. Bright vibrant colours, intricate pictures, and a fun story, The Three Little Dassies is sure to delight. 

Beauty and the Beast

Jan Brett (1989)

Beautifully illustrated, in typical Jan Brett fashion, this version of Beauty and the Beast is set in a magical castle where animals wearing period clothing act as servants. Each page has a hint about the secret Beast is keeping are on each page. 

Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen

A Fairy Tale Told in Seven Stories
Ken Setterington (2000)

The story of The Snow Queen told with the traditional scherenschnitt, the art of paper cutting. The story of the splinters of a mirror that gets into people's hearts and eyes, freezing their hearts and tricking them into only seeing the bad and ugly, and the love that can melt even the most obstinate heart. 

Little Red Riding Hood

Trina Schart Hyman (1983)

Faithful to the original Grimms' Brothers version, this magically illustrated version of the classic has been banned and challenged a number of times for the alcohol Red carries in her basket. I know that if I was her ailing grandmother I'd really want someone to bring me wine!

Saint George and the Dragon

A Golden Legend
Margaret Hodges (1984)

This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of Saint George and the Dragon from Spenser's The Faerie Queen. After a dragon has been terrorizing the land for years, a brave knight restores peace. 

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Ruth Sanderson (2012)

Each night the king locks his twelve daughters in their room, each night the princesses sneak out and dance until dawn, until their secret is discovered. Lovingly illustrated with richly detailed oil paintings, this retelling of the classic Grimm story is as beautiful as it is mysterious. 

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales (Vol. 1)

Donald Haase (2008)

If you want a large collection of Folktales and Fairy Tales to hand, The Greenwood Encyclopedia is an excellent bet. There are three volumes in the series and they pull folk and fairytales from all over the world. The encyclopedias also examine the ways in which these tales continue to influence pop culture. May not be appropriate for all ages. 

The Fairy-tale Princess

Seven Classic Stories From the Enchanted Forest
Su Blackwell (2012)

A collection of Seven Classic fairytales: Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, The Princess and the Pea, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses, illustrated through the use of paper cut sculptures.


Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales

Naomi Lewis (2010)

A collection of Hans Christian Andersen's original tales, including The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes, and Thumbelina. A bit slower paced for a modern audience patience is rewarded in these beautifully crafted stories. Reader beware: these are NOT the Disney versions, not all stories have a happily ever after!

Snow White

Jane Ray (2009)

Admittedly this one might be a challenge to read in bed, but if you manage it, you'll be glad you did. Illustrated with beautiful three-dimensional paper cut scenes, Snow White comes alive as though you are watching a stage production, complete with curtains.

A Bear Called Paddington

Michael Bond (2014)

Meet a most beloved marmalade-loving, from darkest Peru traveling bear. A Bear Called Paddington is a collection of short stories about The Brown Family and the bear they find waiting patiently at Paddington Station. Includes: Please Look After This Bear, A Bear in Hot Water, Paddington Goes Underground, A Shopping Expedition, Paddington and "The Old Master," A Visit to the Theatre, Adventure at the Seaside, and A Disappearing Trick. 

More About Paddington

Michael Bond (1962)

There are many other books about our favourite marmalade-loving bear in the Paddington Series, including Paddington Helps Out, Paddington Abroad, Paddington Marches On, Paddington at Work, Paddington Goes to Town, Paddington Takes the Test, Paddington Here and Now, Love From Paddington, Paddington's Finest Hour and many others.

Half Magic

Edward Eager (2008)

When siblings Katharine, Mark, Jane, and Martha are having the worst most boring summer, finding a coin changes everything. The coin grants wishes! But, only half of the wish, so what is half a talking cat? Or a wish to be on a desert island? At least the summer won't be boring anymore! 


A.A. Milne (1991)

Join Kanga, Roo, Owl, Piglet, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, Tigger, and most of all Winne-the-Pooh as they navigate the 100 Acre Wood, rumblings in tummies, bees, and rainclouds.

The Tale of Despereaux

Kate DiCamillo (2003)

Meet Despereaux Tilling, a little mouse with a big heart, who is determined to save Princess Pea from rats. Told as four small "books," three of which tell the story of one character, before the fourth culminates in tying those stories together. 

Anne of Green Gables

L.M. Montgomery (2014)

Anne with an E is the story of an orphaned girl adopted by aging siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthburt. The Cuthburts had sent word to adopt a boy to help with the farm, when Anne a girl of 12 or 13 arrives on their Prince Edward Island doorstep. Full of equal parts heartache, hilarity, and hope, Anne of Green Gables is sure to please. 

The Hobbit

Or, There and Back Again
J.R.R. Tolkien (2012)

When Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is tricked by wizard Gandalf into hosting an evening of frivolity for a group of rowdy dwarves, little does Bilbo know it will end up becoming the greatest adventure of his life. Giant spiders, elves, goblins, and a dragon await on this quest for treasure. I'd also like to add, this is the book with which my father taught me to read at the tender age of 3. Nothing, including death is too much for a child to deal with in a story, especially if their parent is right there with them to talk about it with.   

Mary Poppins

P.L. Travers (1981)

The first story, in which we meet Mary Poppins and the Banks family, of Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London. The Banks family, Mr. and Mrs. Banks, and their children Jane, Michael, and twin babies John and Barbara are at odds when their nanny, Katie Nanna storms out, and a peculiar wind blows into town. 

Mary Poppins in the Park

P.L. Travers (1997)

More magical adventures with Mary Poppins and the Park on Cherry Tree Lane. There are many other titles in the Mary Poppins series, including: Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens the Door, Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, and Mary Poppins and the House Next Door.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick

Mary Norton (1957)

Bed-Knob and Broomstick is the combination of: The Magic Bed-Knob, Or How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons, and Bonfires and Broomsticks. The Wilson Children, Carey, Charles, and Paul find Miss Price injured when she falls off her broomstick. For their silence, she spells a bedknob with most magical properties, and adventures ensue! 

The Secret Garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1987)

Arriving at gloomy and foreboding Misselthwaite Manor Mary Lennox feels her despair is quite complete. But when lonely Mary finds a mysterious key, her life is transformed, and so are the lives of those around her.

Black Beauty

Anna Sewell (2004)

Full disclosure: I have never read, nor seen Black Beauty. I was not a horse girl, but more than that I cannot be trusted around books where animals may or may not get hurt. I have heard this is a seminal story for many young readers, however I was not one of them.

Go the F**k to Sleep

Adam Mansbach (2011)

While I don't (completely) recommend you read this book out loud to children who may go forth to daycare or grandparents with a new vocabulary word, lack of sleep and desperation may drive you to want to do just that. I WOULD advocate this book with a glass of scotch or a tall wine while you console yourself that the sleepless nights will end, and all too soon they won't want or need your assistance at bed time. 

bottom of page