10 best bedtime stories for preschool to key stage 1

We’re not ones for routine, in fact life tends to be quite chaotic here. Days out and even holidays are often spontaneous. Best laid plans often descend into chaos and bedtime isn’t at the same time every day. But the one thing we do insist on is a bedtime story. Every night before bed, one of us will cuddle up with the girls in our bed and read our favourite books. These have changed over the years, but there’s one that I suspect will remain a favourite for years to come. Here are my top ten bedtime stories for children from preschool to key stage one age.

10. Hairy Maclary – Lynley Dodd

This is a fun story to read with little ones. My two have read it so many times that they can recite it themselves by looking at the pictures. Generally we’ll start the sentences and they’ll finish them. They know that Hercules Morse is as big as a horse and Bottomley Potts is covered in spots. What child doesn’t love Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy?

Book cover of Hairy Maclary book has scruffy dog on

9. Aesop’s Fables

We first started reading this to the girls when they were tiny and I have to admit I didn’t think they’d enjoy it. The morals of these stories are quite difficult to grasp. But they did enjoy the stories and as they get older, they’re more capable of explaining the meaning behind the story. Sometimes, we’ll read one of these to reinforce a message from their day. For example, when one of them has been a bit jealous of something we read the Dog and his Reflection.

8. Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book – Julia Donaldson

This is one of my favourites. I love the way the story moves from one scene to the next. Everybody has a different favourite book and it delivers a great message about how you can lose yourself in a book and explore different worlds.

7. The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home – David Cadji-Newby

We reviewed the Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home back in 2016 and it’s one we often still read. It is personalised for the child and Lia in particular loves seeing her character going on adventures around the universe. It is a warm and fuzzy story about how friendship and love can get you through even the toughest of times.

6. Goodnight Spaceman – Michelle Robinson

At the front of Goodnight Spaceman is a letter from Tim Peake. It is a message to children everywhere that they can live their dreams and be whoever they want to be. The book itself follows two children whose daddy is in space. As they get ready for bed, they think about the adventures he is having onboard the space station.

5. Mog the Forgetful Cat – Judith Kerr

I adore the Mog books, for several reasons. When I was a child, we had a cat called Mog. He was old, scruffy and daft as a brush but I adored him. Fast forward to a few years ago, and we had Jamer who looked just like Mog from the books. So as well as being sweet stories about a daft cat who manages to do amazing things despite herself, these bring back lovely memories.

4. Mole and the Baby Bird – Marjorie Newman

Last year, I was at an event at Libby’s school. I’d said the girls could choose a book each from the second hand book stall and one of them picked up Mole and the Baby Bird. Another mum saw her and told me what a lovely book it was, so we decided to buy it. It was such a good recommendation because it has become a firm favourite. It is another book with a message about friendship and doing the right thing, even if it will make you sad.

3. The Snail and the Whale – Julia Donaldson

I can’t even remember when we started reading the Snail and the Whale, it feels like it has always been one of our favourites. It’s message is about exploration, getting out of your comfort zone and defying expectations. And about the tiny snail who saves the whale. Just because he’s small, that doesn’t mean he can’t do amazing things.

2. The Darkest Dark – Chris Hadfield

This is the third book about space in our selection and I think there’s a reason for that. The girls remember Tim Peake being in space and seeing a British person living his dream of being an astronaut has really inspired them. The Darkest Dark is a lovely book about not letting your fears stop you from being the best you can be. It is written by Chris Hadfield, who is an astronaut himself. But as a child, he was terribly afraid of the dark.

The Darkest Dark - Chris Hadfield - Book Review

1. The Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton

The Faraway Tree really had no competition for the top spot in my list. As a child, it was one of my absolute favourites. So, when I saw the box set on sale, I bought it to see if the girls would enjoy it. I’d expected them to be a bit young for it at the moment, so I thought I’d probably keep it for when they were older. Fortunately, I was completely wrong. From the first chapter, they were gripped. We read all three of the Faraway Tree books, with a chapter a night for several months. By the time we’d finished, they were asking to read them again. It’s amazing to see that these books can stand the test of time. Despite some of the amazing new books that have come out – including those listed above – this is still a firm favourite for children today.

What are your top ten bedtime stories? I know ours are going to change as the girls get older, but I dread the day they don’t want me to read to them anymore. Happy Beds have researched the best kids books for bedtime and have a huge list. I’ll definitely be looking to that for inspiration as the girls’ taste in books changes. You can also see the books some familiar faces have chosen as their favourites.

Bedtime stories | Reading a book at bedtime is a great way to get children to calm down. It is also a way for parents to bond with their children over a little quiet time and a shared love of a favourite book. Here are our top ten bedtime books for children of preschool age up to key stage one. #books #bedtimestories #childrensbooks #reading

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  1. Oh I love the faraway tree and the whole series. I’ve read the chronicles of narnia to mine too but more for my benefit than theirs 🙂
    We’ve also read mog that many times that my 3 year old calls all cats mog
    Fab post as always xx

  2. There’s quite a few on this list that we haven’t tried. Hairy McLary and the Snail and the Whale are firm favourites with the girls. We’re just starting on chapter books so I might have to give the Faraway Tree books a try. I loved them as a child and it sounds like the girls might be just the right age to start hearing the stories now too.

  3. Fascinating you have the Faraway Tree on this list. I’d have thought it more suitable for slightly older kids than your’s but if your’s love it, well carry on! Their tastes are very advanced. A lot of the other authors are very familiar to us! Good choices.

    1. Thanks John! Yes I was surprised that they enjoyed the Faraway Tree too but they are so into it, they were devastated when we finished the box set. We’re going to try the Chronicles of Narnia next.