Parents recommend bedtime books for babies & toddlers

In (hopeful!) recognition of World Sleep Day, we’ve asked some of the parents who work at Readings to share their favourite bedtime books for babies and toddlers.


“My daughter was a fairly anxious child and always struggled to separate at bedtime and go to sleep, but she was very resistant to any meditation or calming exercises at any time of the day. Between the ages of 3 and 6 I regularly read her stories from the Nightlights anthology. They were just the right length – a couple of pages, with a picture or two – and they always had a gentle lesson at the end to think about. She enjoyed the certainty that came with knowing there would always be a happy ending and liked the folktales from all around the world.

There is now a whole series of these books, with the latest one The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime, using Buddhist philosophy to convey the messages of calmness, compassion and being a good person. These worked a treat in my household, followed by an audiobook to comfort my child in the dark as she fell asleep.”

Angela Crocombe


‘One of the things I was most looking forward to when I was pregnant was having a little bub that I could share my love of books with. Bedtime stories were such an integral part of my childhood that I was determined that my little guy would grow up surrounded by books. He’s nine-months-old now, and rambunctious as anything, but he seems to love his books – especially anything touch-and-feel, with flaps, or full of fun noises. His favourite book is called A Mischief of Monsters, and he can find it anywhere that I’ve stashed it on the shelves (admittedly it does have a very bright spine). It’s definitely a ramp-them-up book rather than a calm-them-down book, so when it comes to nap time I usually reach for one of my favourites instead.

At the moment at top of the list is Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, which is from the powerhouse team of Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury. A gentle rhyming story about babies from all around the world, it has a rolling, repetitive text that ebbs and flows, and is an absolute pleasure to read. Coupled with Oxenbury’s timeless illustrations, it no surprise that it’s an instant classic. I gave it to him for Christmas, and when I read it to him for the first time I got a little teary-eyed as the book came to its conclusion. I’m sure I’m not alone. This is a gorgeous, affecting read for all new parents to share with their little ones.’

Lian Hingee


‘Look, if it were up to my child we’d be reading Good Night, Good Night Construction Site ten times a night, but ain’t nobody got time for that. So, I give him one round of that or some other digger book, and then start on the Oxford dictionary. I mean it’s never too early to work on your vocab, right? He’s three and we are up to the letter M. I guess we’ll start over in a few more years.’

Rosalind McClintock


‘This is what I learnt reading to my kids when they are babies – they don’t care what you read as long as you are very physically close. When my babies were little I read out loud what ever it was that I was reading. Sometimes that meant a feminist tome or sometimes that meant a Harry Potter book. As they got older and more alert I read a lot of Pamela Allen and Julia Donaldson books: both of my kids responded well to rhyme and to the various voices I put on. Every reading was after all an opportunity to perform!

My favourite time to read to them was when they were old enough to sit still for chapter books. At the time we were travelling around Australia and so I read the wonderful Australian classics: Dot and the Kangaroo and The Magic Pudding. I’m so sure both of my kids thought they could talk to any of the wildlife we saw in our travels because of these stories. I hope they still believe they can.’

Chris Gordon


‘Early on in parenthood, I was advised to pick out specific picture books as bedtime cues for our baby and we now have two books at home that we always read to our one-year-old before naps and bedtime: the soothing and slightly surreal Goodnight Moon, and Alison Lester’s classic-in-the-making, Kissed by the Moon. Part of our nightly routine also involves us reading a few pages of a novel to the baby, which has seen us revisiting some children’s classics. I’ve also recently bought The Sleepy Pebble and Other Bedtime Stories (which incorporates mindful activities designed to help children relax) in preparation for the high-energy toddler we’re now expecting around the corner. Am I being overly ambitious? Perhaps!

One last recommendation for a book that is fast becoming a favourite among all three of us at home: Birds by husband-and-wife team Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek. This imaginative and refreshing exploration of birds is an utter pleasure to share with a small person, trusting in their creativity and intelligence.’

Bronte Coates

Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes

Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes

Mem Fox, Helen Oxenbury

$16.95Buy now

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