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Although I’m not a mom, I’m enchanted by children’s books and reading bedtime stories to my nieces and now my great-nieces is a cherished ritual I love. For me, snuggling together and bonding over bedtime stories is the only way to end a perfect day of fun and laughter.
I love this blurry old photo that Tiffany took about 7 years ago. Princess Sweetie Pie was just two years old and in love with Disney’s Ariel, The Little Mermaid. This day we were snuggled in their guest room bed at my house reading bedtime stories and she was so excited, retelling me the story as I read to her. See her little hands moving? She was so animated and it was just adorable.
Over the years I’ve curated a small collection of bedtime stories that I keep in a French casement cabinet in our guest bedroom. Not only does this beautiful cabinet hold children’s books, but it also holds whimsical knick-knacks chosen for their ability to spark imagination – some handmade, some gifts, some purchased with intent. Princess P and Princess Sweetie Pie know that they can open this cabinet and pick one of the children’s stories to read anytime they feel like taking a break from whatever is swirling around them (usually cooking/baking with me). They both can read now and more often than not read the bedtime stories to me.
This photo of my double-door French Casement Cabinet in our guest room shows it decorated for Christmas with a Santa, frosty trees and snowy owls on top of the cabinet. Note how close to the ceiling it is – if you are in the market for a beautiful cabinet like this, be sure your ceiling height can accommodate it. This one is 91″ tall and I got it at Restoration Hardware about eight years ago and this finish is called “Weathered Oak Drifted”. They still carry it in their collection, but many other similar ones are available from other retailers, too, including Amazon.
I love the way this cabinet opens – steel rods run the length of the doors and turning the handles operates the sliding mechanism that bolts the rods into the locking device. Even the girls can turn the handles to get into the cabinet when they want a book.
This photo shows the locking device at the top of the cabinet plus it shows my collection of pop-up books, plus a boxed set called The Puffin in Bloom Collection (more about that below), a cloth-covered metal birdhouse I got at Hobby Lobby several years ago, a handmade topiary (made for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary almost 20 years ago now) on top of a collection of some of my mother’s old books behind my mother’s Barbie doll. My mother, who passed away in March, had quite a collection of Barbie dolls and when she decided to downsize them because my parents were moving to a smaller house, she let all of us (her children and grandchildren) choose what we wanted. This Barbie is called “Lighter Than Air”, inspired by the paintings of Edgar Degas and is part of the Prima Ballerina collection. She’s a beauty but since she is almost 20 years old, she is only available through 3rd party dealers on eBay.
Back to bedtime stories and my children’s book collection…
My collection of bedtime stories starts with books for toddlers graduating to kindergarten-age books and now includes chapter books. My children’s book collection isn’t perfect, but over the years it has worked for me by giving me and my great-nieces plenty of bedtime stories to read as we unwind after a happy fun-filled day.
This photo, also taken by my niece Tiffany, is Princess Sweetie Pie (her daughter) asleep on my arm at the computer in my home office! We (all of us including Princess P), were writing the story, The Pink Ruffled Skirt. The next thing you know, Princess Sweetie Pie was asleep, exhausted after a fun-filled day!
Although I do have nephews and great-nephews, this collection of bedtime stories and children’s books is female-centric because Princess P and Princess Sweetie Pie live closest to me and visit me more frequently than the boys; but, this list does include some books that are geared towards boys.
And, since I have over 40 Dr. Seuss books (I lovvvve Dr. Seuss), I’m including them in a separate post soon. Stay tuned for that update!
I’ve written this post to use as either a gift guide or a reference guide in searching for the perfect book to give your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. Each of these books is part of my children’s books and bedtime stories collection and each has been read and enjoyed by multiple children over the years.
But, before we delve into this list of children’s books, I want to take a moment and tell you about a great service if you are an Amazon Prime Member. It’s called Prime Book Box and is a subscription service specifically for children’s books. These books are curated and hand-picked by Amazon Book Editors and are sent out monthly, or bi-monthly or every three months – you choose. You select the appropriate age group and the work is done for you by Amazon AND the cost is 40% off the list price!
This link to Amazon Prime Book Box provides all the details plus an adorable video starring children talking about their love of books – so cute! I encourage you to check it out!
Here’s a list of some of my collection of children’s books and bedtime stories broken down by age group (some are out of print, but the marvelous thing about Amazon is that usually, you can find one through a re-seller either new or used):
Bedtime Stories for Toddlers and Preschool-Age Children
My collection of bedtime stories for the very young includes several different kinds: gorgeous pop-up books that need to be read aloud to them, counting books that can be read to your babies and then later, when they are older, can be the first books they learn to read on their own, and storybooks meant to be read aloud by you to your young ones or by older siblings to their younger siblings. I’ve broken these up into those categories for easy skimming of this very long post.
Pop-Up Children’s Books
The Snow Queen: A Pop-Up Adaptation of a Classic Fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, illustrated by Yevgeniya Yeretskaya, 2013, published by Jumping Jack Press (ages 3 and up) – from the first page, this beautiful pop-up book delights. Each gorgeous page enthralls the reader with beautiful illustrations, magically intricate pop-ups, and glitter. Seven mini-stories make this book easy to divide into seven different, quick-to-read bedtime stories, promising your child seven nights of magic. This book does require a bit of care to maintain its integrity (little tabs that hold parts of pages together), but it’s a stunner. Round out your gift with a video: Snow Queen DVDs, Blu-ray, and Prime Videos.
The Very Ticklish Tiger by Jack Tickle, 2008, published by Sandy Creek (ages 3 and up) – this delightful pop-up book is written in rhyme for the very young. Bright and colorful, it entertains youngsters with beautiful pop-ups of jungle birds and animals. A good book to help children learn to read, the last sentence even tells your child that it’s time to go to bed!
Journey to the Moon, A Roaring, Souring Ride by Lucio and Meera Santoro, 2007, published by Little Simon (ages 3 and up) – this fabulous pop-up book takes children to outer space over land, sea, and sky. Each fantastical page mesmerizes culminating on the moon filled with aliens. Written in rhyme, this classifies as bedtime stories that are quick reads filled with wonder.
The Jungle Book, A Pop-Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart, 2006, published by Little Simon (ages 3 and up) – every page of this stunning book is a marvel. Every page has multiple pop-ups that delight and every page is a story in itself. While listed for ages 3 and up, the text is true to Rudyard Kipling’s original book and may elicit many questions by young ones. Give this as a gift hand-in-hand with one of the multiple versions of Disney movies available on The Jungle Book.
Disney Fairies, Fairies in Flight by Andrea Posner-Sanchez, 2007, published by Random House (ages 3 and up) – when you open the first page, two fairies launch into flight. Attached with clear plastic strips, the fairies bounce around the beautifully-illustrated page with every slight movement of the book making this a delightful addition to your bedtime stories collection for fairy lovers. Here are Disney movies about fairies, mostly Tinkerbell and other movies about fairies.
All of these adorable bedtime stories have bugs, waterfowl, animals, birds, and butterflies that pop out through the covers that magically reduce (or increase, in some cases) in number as you turn the page. I envision your child on your lap, poking the creatures with his/her fingers as you turn the page, asking questions, and giggling – what could be better? All are recommended for ages 3 and up.
Ten Rubber Duckies, A Wacky Quacky Counting Adventure by Dawn Bentley and illustrated by Heather Cahoon, 2008, published by Robin Corey Books, an imprint of Random House
Good Night, Magic Fireflies by Erica Maese and illustrated by Janet Samuel, 2010, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Playful Penguins by Erica Maese and illustrated by Janet Samuel, 2010, published by Sandy Creek
The Great Monkey Race by Erica Maese and illustrated by Janet Samuel, 2000, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, 2000, published by Piggy Toes Press
Eight Silly Monkeys illustrated by Steve Haskamp, 2015, Bendon published by Piggy Toes Press
Ten Friendly Fish by Susie Brooks and illustrated by Debbie Tarbett, 2007, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Chirpy Chicks, text copyright by Caterpillar Books, illustrated by Debbie Tarbett, 2008, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Tiny Tadpoles, text copyright by Caterpillar Books, illustrated by Debbie Tarbett, 2006, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Wriggly, Wiggly Caterpillars, text copyright by Caterpillar Books, illustrated by Debbie Tarbett, 2004, published by Sandy Creek
Ten Little Bluebirds, by Emily Ford, illustrated by Russell Julian, 2015, published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
Ten Little Teddy Bears Splashing in a Bath by Make Believe Ideas, 2016, published by The Wilderness
Ten Little Menehunes, A Hawaiian Counting Book by Demming Forsythe, 2000, published by Menehunes.com Publishing, illustrated by Mirto Golino – this book does not have a tactile component but does include a pronunciation guide to the Hawaiian language.
A Very Crabby Christmas by Tish Rabe, 2012, A Little Golden Book – written in rhyme, Dr. Seuss’ famous Cat in the Hat returns with Nick and Sally and attends a Christmas ball hosted by crabs.
Other Bedtime Stories for the Young
Me with You by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Christopher Denise, 2009, published by Philomel Books – written in rhyme, this beautifully illustrated book tells the charming tale of a grandfather and granddaughter portrayed as bears. Out of print, this book is only available through 3rd-party sellers.
The Three Little Pugs and the Big, Bad Cat by Becky Davies, illustrated by Caroline Attia, 2017, Tiger Tales – a parody of the three little pigs and the big bad wolf, with photos of pugs and illustrations of the cat and surroundings, this book will have you and your child howling with laughter at the antics of the pugs and the big, bad cat.
The Paddington Treasury by Michael Bond, illustrated by R.W. Alley, 2008, Harper Festival – six classic bedtime stories about the bear from Peru and his adopted family including Paddington, Paddington at the Palace, Paddington at the Zoo, Paddington in the Garden, Paddington and the Marmalade Maze, Paddington the Artist. Each charming tale of the little lovable bear who loves marmalade more than anything peeks into his quirky personality. Hard to believe he is now more than 50 years old!
Grumpy Cat, The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t, illustrated by Steph Laberis, 2016, a Little Golden Book – don’t you love Grumpy Cat? An internet sensation, the real Grumpy Cat’s name is Tardar Sauce and she’s a girl. This book follows her around as she says “no” to everything.
Disney Adventure Stories, A Treasury of Tales (including 200 stickers), 2007, Disney Press – 19 bedtime stories of favorite Disney characters, this easy-to-read book has beautiful, full-color Disney illustrations on every page. What’s not to love? Only available from 3rd-party sellers.
Disney Winnie the Pooh, 5-Minute Stories, 2017, Disney Press (ages 3 and up) – 12 bedtime stories about the much-loved bear with classic Pooh illustrations. Here’s a link to the other 5-Minute Stories in the Disney collection.
Bedtime Stories for Kindergarten-Age Children
Peter Pan, A Classic Story Pop-Up Book with Sounds by J.M. Barrie and Paul Hess, 2009, retold by Libby Hamilton, published by Silver Dolphin Books (ages 4 and up) – this beautifully illustrated and constructed children’s book transports – transports you to London, transports you to Neverland, transports you to a lagoon, transports you to a pirate ship, and finally back home. Every pop-up page has a sound that will elicit questions from your child. And, for that age group, the question is probably “why?” A wonderful retelling of a classic children’s book reduced to the size of bedtime stories.
If You Love a Mermaid Tale, The Little Mermaid and The Magic Shell illustrated by Susanna Lockheart, 2010, published by Barron’s (ages 5 and up) – two bedtime stories in one, this lushly illustrated book has pages that change scenes like a window blind as you open and close the pages. A great way to get two amazing books for the price of one, it combines the classic retelling of The Little Mermaid followed by the lesser-known delightful Japanese tale of The Magic Shell. Easy reads for ages 5 and up; fair warning: you may not finagle two nights of bedtime stories because your little one will beg, “one more pleeeze!”
I can’t say enough about the next three books, all written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom, so I’ll say it in one word: magical. I bought each of these books separately, which you can still do to, but this link is to all three sold as a set:
What Do You Do with an Idea? 2013, Compendium
What Do You Do with a Problem? 2016, Compendium
What Do You Do with a Chance? 2017, Compendium
Sidenote: Compendium is Kobi’s (and his wife) company and they also published the next book (below).
And Then…Story Starters, 20 Imaginative Beginnings by M.H. Clark, illustrated by Alexandra Ball, 2012, Compendium – a box set of 20 thick-board story starters, each page begins a story giving just enough information to pique the reader’s curiosity. Each page ends with “And then…” to encourage the reader to make up the rest of the story in their own words. With fanciful plot lines and colorful illustrations, each story starter sets the stage for your child’s imagination to run free. A great way to incorporate bedtime stories into your nightly ritual that you create along with your child. This box set is also good for road trips; even older children can participate by taking a story and putting pen to paper. I wrote a book review about this book many years ago, which you can read here: And Then…
The 12 Cats of Christmas by Wendy Darling, illustrated by Jan Panico, song by Evelyn Loeb, 1997, published by Peter Pauper Press, Inc. – this teeny, tiny mini book is a colorfully illustrated sweet story built around a cat named Rudolpha with the traditional 12 Days of Christmas song reworked around cats.
Dreams Come True, All They Need is You! by Mike Dooley, illustrated by Virginia Allyn, 2013, published by Totally Unique Thoughts – this enchanting, beautifully illustrated bedtime story is written in inspirational rhyme about the power of positivity in pursuing your dreams.
Song of the Swallows, written and illustrated by Leo Politi, 2009, Getty Publications – the story of the yearly migration of swallows to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. Including the history of the Mission, this is a story of young Juan, a boy who lives at the Mission and Old Julian, the Mission gardener and bell ringer, and their love of the swallows who return every year from their second home in Argentina. I actually bought this book at the gift shop in the Mission San Juan Capistrano several years ago on a mission (no pun intended) to learn how I could discourage the swallows from returning to our house. We are blessed with hundreds of swallows who return year after year to our home, but they make quite a mess. They are truly magical birds (in spite of their mess making) and I’ve written about them many times on this blog and you can find links here: Operation Swallow Adios, Sweet Baby James, A Wing and a Prayer, The Best Nests in the West, The Swallows Return to Capistrano South, Exaltation of Larks!
Children’s Books for the Early Grades
These bedtime stories are ones that are meant to be read TO your very young children by either you, another adult, or your older children, so very young children cannot, yet, read these children’s books on their own.
The Complete Peter Rabbit Library: 23 Book Box Set by Beatrix Potter, 2006, the originals and authorized editions by Frederick Warne & Co. copyright, published by Penguin Books – this set of bedtime stories is out of print, so rare and pricey. They do have similar sets at a lesser cost, but this link is to the actual set I own. You can also buy these books individually.
A true treasure, every book elicits joy. I have to share a personal story here about Peter Rabbit:
A few Easters ago, my great-niece, Princess Sweetie Pie (and her sister, Princess P) came over to spend the night. I had decorated the house for Easter and displayed my brand new Animated Talking Bunny by Cuddle Barn on top of my kitchen cookbook sideboard. When Princess Sweetie Pie spied it, she ran across the room straight to that bunny and said something like this, “oh, I love this bunny. He kinda looks like Peter Rabbit. We are reading Peter Rabbit in school. Can I take him to show-and-tell? I promise I’ll bring him back .”
Sidenote: the “promise” is a running joke among the three of us (me, Princess Sweetie Pie and Princess P). When Princess Sweetie Pie was but a wee little girl, she borrowed my Sally Snowflake at Christmas and never brought her back. You can read that story here: Pinky Swear. And, Princess P borrowed my Bernadette Halloween skeleton doll to take to show-and-tell and never brought her back, either. I don’t care if they do, but it has become a running joke that whenever they ask to borrow something, they have to promise to bring it back.
Back to the Peter Rabbit story: this animated talking bunny tells the story of Peter Rabbit by pushing a button on his foot (or maybe it’s his hand). He sways back and forth nodding his head and reads from his book in a British accent.
We (the Princesses and me) spent the next few hours curled up on their bed in their guest room reading silently from the book as the bunny read it to us out loud (over-and-over-and-over). The bunny reads the story almost word-for-word from the book. I love this bunny so much that I bought Dalton the Storytelling Dragon by Cuddle Barn for me (I love Medieval stories) and I bought an Animated Talking Mother Goose by Cuddle Barn as a Christmas gift for another great-niece. Both the Dragon and Mother Goose have videos on Amazon so you can watch those short videos to see how they work and hear their voices.
Now back to The Complete Peter Rabbit Library; this 23-book set of bedtime stories includes the following titles (this list includes links to the individual books for your convenience):
Each enchanting book contains Beatrix Potter’s full-colored illustrations. Here’s a link to Peter Rabbit DVDs, Blu-ray and Prime Videos for your convenience. For older readers who would like to know about Beatrix Potter herself and her life, these books tell her story: Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter by Matthew Dennison and The Story of Beatrix Potter by Sarah Gristwood and others. There is also a movie about Beatrix Potter starring Renee Zellweger: Miss Potter.
My Princess Collection by Disney Press sold as a boxed set; this is the series of bedtime stories that includes Ariel, Princess Sweetie Pie’s favorite for a very long time. The link above to this set is not the exact set I have (from 2003), but an updated version from 2013. The 2013 version is only available from 3rd-party sellers.
However, there are other sets available that include similar bedtime stories. My set includes the following books (I’m including links to corresponding movies for your convenience):
Book Four – Belle, Who Could Love a Beast?, adapted from Princess Belle: The Beauty of True Love by Grace Windsor, 2003; Beauty and the Beast DVDs, Blu-ray, and Prime Videos
Book Six – Alice, A Most Wonderful Adventure by M. L. Dunham, 2003; Alice in Wonderland DVDs, Blu-ray, and Prime Videos
Book Twelve – Ariel, A Gift of Love, adapted from Princess Ariel: Part of Their World by Grace Window, 2003; The Little Mermaid DVDs, Blu-ray, and Prime Videos
A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Anne Mortimer, 1994, published by Harper Collins Publishers (ages 5 to 9) – Christmas as seen through the eyes of a cat; charming and beautifully illustrated, sure to please any cat lover.
The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, illustrated by Ruth Brown, 1986, published by St. Martin’s Press – this classic and touching James Herriot veterinarian tale has a bit of sadness; out of print, it is only available through 3rd-party vendors. Here’s a link to other James Herriot books and stories made into a British TV series.
Hallelujah, A Cat Comes Back! by A.B. Curtiss, 1996, Old Castle Publishing – this picture book, written in rhyme, is told by “Old Granny Cat” about a cat named Hallelujah, who never gives up. Although this book is in color, the subject matter is illustrated with Victorian black and white etchings (framed in color).
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Christian Birmingham, 1995, published by Running Press – the famous and classic tale of a magical night, written in rhyme, this version is out of print but available through 3rd-party vendors. Many other versions of this book are available as well as DVDs, Blu-ray, and Prime Videos. Check out my cat, Coco, in his very own version of this classic tale: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Version 2.0.
Classic Fairy Tales, illustrated by Scott Gustafson, 2003, published by The Greenwich Workshop Press – this gorgeous, large-print book with magical illustrations includes the following bedtime stories, some short and some long: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Tom Thumb, Hansel and Gretel, The Frog Prince, Rumplestiltskin, Cinderella, and the Three Little Pigs. Here’s a link to other beautiful books illustrated by Scott Gustafson, just in case you want to collect more!
The Joy of Fairy Tales compiled by Gill Davies, some illustrations are by Barbara Firth; others in the public domain; 2011, Worth Press – a large tome (766 pages) with over 200 stories from around the world, this storybook is also a reference book, of sorts, explaining how legends and tales developed including short biographies of the compilers of these legends and fairy tales. This book will definitely occupy your child for years and as they get older, they can use it as a reference for book reports. Out of print, this book is available only through 3rd-party sellers.
The next four books are “search and find” geography books that tour a specific region of the United States. Each of these bedtime stories, written in rhyme, provides juvenile maps of each state pointing out specific places of interest in each state posing questions to locate those places on the map and to locate Charlie, a dog. Cute books, I must admit that I bought them because my husband’s name is Charlie. But, also because my aunt (Geri), now gone for many years, took me to Europe when I was 18. She suggested that before the trip, I check out children’s books from the library about the places we were scheduled to visit on our grand tour of European cities so that I would have a basic understanding of what we were going to see. That suggestion (a good one) has always stayed with me. Three of these books are available from 3rd-party sellers and the one published in 2014 is available directly from Amazon Prime.
Travels with Charlie, Way Down South by Miles Backer, illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, 2007, Blue Apple Books – this book tours Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Travels with Charlie, Way Out West by Miles Backer, illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, 2006, Blue Apple Books – this book tours Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Travels with Charlie, Travelin’ the Northwest by Miles Backer, illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, 2013, Blue Apple Books – this book tours Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Travels with Charlie, Across the Midwest by Miles Backer, illustrated by Chuck Nitzberg, 2014, Blue Apple Books – this book tours Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The Windhover by Alan Brown, illustrated by Christian Birmingham, 1997, Harcourt Brace & Company (ages 4 to 7) – the story of a kestrel (falcon) and the boy who takes him from his nest and the lessons they both learn.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid, 2006, Disney Press – Disney magic as usual, but not really short enough to read in one night, but a good book to read on a rainy or snowy day when your child needs to spend most of the day indoors.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by Robyn Officer, 1991, Barnes & Noble – with beautiful watercolor illustrations, this is the classic story of a stuffed velveteen rabbit and his quest to be real and learning what real means under the fierce loving arms of a boy. Since my version is now almost 30 years old and published by Barnes & Noble, I can’t locate it on Amazon. So, the link I’ve provided is to all the hardcover versions of this book available on Amazon.
T is for Tugboat, Navigating the Seas from A to Z by Chronicle Books, 2008 – the parts of a tugboat from A to Z covering lore, language and all things nautical. Vintage illustrations blend with modern and vintage photos to bring this mixed media children’s book to life. Part of a series.
Haley’s Friendship Challenge by Louie Lawent, illustrated by Daniela Frongia, 2018, Topaz Publishing – Haley moves to a new town with her mother and struggles to fit in. But, then she finds a special friend, her neighbor’s dog, who changes everything.
Above is Princess Sweetie Pie reading and lounging on the sofa in my sitting room. She’s so funny – we were in the middle of something (we were baking cupcakes, I think) and she said, “I have to go read a book for my homework!” So, off she went to find a book to read and then she found a secluded spot away from the chatter and got down to business!
Chapter Books for Grade School Kids
There is nothing better than a well-written book. Filled with wonder, with the ability to transport the reader to another place, dimension, or another world, books have magic that nothing else does.
This is our bed in our guest room. I picked a few of my favorite bedtime stories, scattered them around the bed with Coco’s soft fuzzy faux fur throw nearby, stood on a ladder and snapped this picture! What we do bloggers do for photos! Anyway, the beautiful headboard was purchased from Pottery Barn years ago as was the white duvet and pillow shams. The colorful, flowered pillow sham cover came from Home Goods a few years ago.
Tactile Books for Young Readers
Explore Within a Pirate Ship: Climb Aboard and Enter the Golden Age of Piracy! by Paul Beck, 2007, published by Silver Dolphin Books (ages 8 and up) – this wonderful book includes a model pirate ship and as you open each thick cardboard page, it dissects the parts of the ship by disassembling it AND tells the history and folklore of pirates. While pirates are typically male-centric, this is a marvelous and tactile book for girls, too.
The Lost Files of Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene, 2007, created, designed and produced by Brainwaves Limited, UK and published by Grosset & Dunlap (ages 8 and up) – this beautiful book is assembled like a journal and a scrapbook. Each thick cardboard page of this fabulous book has tactile parts that move and/or open to reveal clues and treasures. A child could get lost for hours in this children’s book, so it probably shouldn’t be classified with bedtime stories, but it would make a wonderful gift for any of the princesses in your life. It even has a recipe and includes a menu! The first page has a journal entry dated “May 1930,” which is particularly poignant to me. My mother (Jo, the Princesses great-grandmother) was born in May 1930 and loved Nancy Drew. Her collection included every Nancy Drew published and I grew up reading her original books. Sadly, those books were lost in the 2007 wildfire known as the Witch Fire that destroyed our house and more than 3,000+ other homes. So, this book is especially special to me because of my memories and the fact that it was published in 2007, the year we lost our home. For a while, there was a TV series in the 1970s plus a movie starring Emma Roberts.
Abridged Classic Children’s Stories
The Puffin in Bloom Collection, 2014, a 4-book boxed set including:
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery; link to Anne of Green Gables movies
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett; link to A Little Princess movies
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; link to Little Women movies
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri; link to Heidi movies
Published by Puffin Books, each book’s cover is beautifully illustrated by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co., plus this set of books is printed in a larger font making them easy to read. While technically not bedtime stories, they can be classified as such if you are able to get your child to quit reading for the night at the end of a chapter! Two of the books include black and white illustrations throughout the books illustrated by different artists. Perfect chapter-type books for older kids, this series of children’s books includes pages of “endnotes,” such as “Some Things to Think About…,” “Some Things to Do…,” and more. An excellent selection of books to help your child with book reports and to introduce them to classics.
Treasury of Illustrated Classics™
The following children’s books are part of a series of 36, sold either in gift sets or independently (not all are currently available individually) and published by Modern Publishing (the books behind the metal letters that spell out “Jo,” my mother’s name. Incidentally, my mother was named after Jo of Little Women). At $3.99 each, they are a good value. All are abridged and adapted from the original classic fairy tale or children’s book and while the covers are full-color, the illustrations inside the books are black and white. Easy-to-read with large print, these shorter versions of the classics are for young readers not ready to take on the original books. These books can be bedtime stories for your child if you negotiate a chapter limit ahead of time. Here’s a list of 24 of the 36 that are currently available individually:
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, 2017 – Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole to Wonderland, a land full of unusual characters, talking animals and things that aren’t just quite right (see a link to movies above).
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, 2010 – an orphan, Anne, gets adopted at age 11 and goes to live at Green Gables with her new parents. Full of life, Anne brings happiness and joy to all she meets (see a link to movies in other section).
Beauty and the Beast by Madame le Prince de Beaumont, 2009 – the story of a young girl who volunteers to go live with a beast in a castle when her father runs into trouble with the beast (see a link to movies in a section above).
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 2009 – Victor Frankenstein’s life’s work is to create another living human being from human parts that he digs up in graveyards. Once brought to life, the monster is not what he expected and he flees leaving the monster to fend for himself in a world he doesn’t understand. A cautionary tale…; link to Frankenstein movies.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, 2017 – Pip, an orphan raised by his disagreeable sister and her husband, leads a hardscrabble life learning various lessons from different people he meets along the way to manhood; link to Great Expectations movies.
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, 2009 – a professor and his teenage nephew set out on a fantastic adventure to find the center of the earth using a coded message as a guide; link to Journey to the Center of the Earth movies.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Sir Thomas Mallory, illustrated by Julia Lundman, 2009 – set in the dark ages, this is the classic Sword in the Stone tale of a young man raised by a wizard who becomes king of a realm. Filled with the majestic pageantry and wizardry of the time, this book is an irresistible lure of a legend more than a thousand years old; link to King Arthur and Camelot movies.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 2017 – the story of the four March sisters growing up through the years, working together along with their mother to help their family after their father goes off to war. Link to Little Women movies.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 2016 – an orphan, young Oliver works as a laborer in a workhouse until he escapes to London where he meets a band of young pickpockets that lead him into a life of crime; link to Oliver Twist movies.
Peter Pan, Treasury of Illustrated Classics by J.M. Barrie, 2016 – Wendy, John and Michael Darling fly with Peter Pan to Neverland – a magical land of fairies, mermaids and pirates; link to Peter Pan movies.
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, illustrated by Brian Bartle and Tim Davis, 2009 – Eliza Doolittle sells flowers on the streets of London. One day a speech professor, Henry Higgins, offers to teach her to speak like a lady; link to Pygmalion and My Fair Lady movies.
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, 2016 – a puppet created by Geppetto, Pinocchio is naughty and playful and constantly in trouble. He wants nothing more than to be a real boy. But, before his wish is granted, he must prove himself worthy. His journey through the human world leads him to fantastical places where he learns the values of honesty and kindness; link to Pinocchio movies.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, 2017 – a human baby boy, Mowgli is raised by wolves in the jungle. Learning survival skills in a world not his own, he learns many life lessons from various animals. Link to The Jungle Book movies.
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain, 2009 – a poor boy and a prince meet and discover that they look amazingly alike; enough so that they decide to trade places and see how the other lives. Link to The Prince and the Pauper movies.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnette, 2017 – young Mary Lennox lives in India with her parents, indulged, self-absorbed, and entitled; and, she has no friends. Her parents die suddenly of cholera and she is sent to live with an uncle in England, where she discovers a secret garden. Link to The Secret Garden movies.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, 2016 – Toad and his friends, Mole, Rat, and Badger embark on madcap adventures in this charming book that still enchants more than 100 years later; link to The Wind in the Willows movies.
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 2009 – Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, are swept away to the land of Oz by a tornado. Dorothy learns from the good witch, Glinda, that in order to return home to Kansas, she needs to request help from the Wizard of Oz, who lives in the Emerald City. Following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion on her journey and encounters many magical, mysterious, and scary things along the way, including the Wicked Witch of the West. Link to The Wizard of Oz movies.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, 2017 – a thrilling adventure novel about pirates and treasure, this exciting book transports readers and an innkeeper’s son to island paradises via a treasure map he finds aboard a pirate ship. Link to Treasure Island movies.
Other Chapter Books for Young Readers
The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech, illuminated by David Diaz, 2007, published by Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers – a story with many characters: a King and his family – spoiled, indulged, jaded; and peasants – poor, adventurous, and proud; and a story with many twists and turns.
Stories from Shakespeare, retold by Nicola Baxter, illustrated by Jenny Thorne, 2001, Barnes & Noble Juvenile – this book includes abridged versions of six of Shakespeare’s plays retold for children: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet; Twelfth Night; Antony and Cleopatra. While this book is an “intro” to Shakespeare, it may be really tricky for younger juvenile ages to grasp. This version is only available through 3rd-party vendors.
Tales of King Arthur, retold by Daniel and Ronnie Randall, illustrated by Graham Howells, 2002, Barnes & Noble Juvenile – this book includes 10 dramatic tales from the legendary time of King Arthur retold for children: Uther and Igraine; The Sword in the Stone; The Saxon Wars; Excalibur; The Birth of a Dream; Gawain and the Green Knight; Lancelot; Lancelot’s Treachery; Morgana and Mordred; The Final Battle. It is out of print and only available from 3rd-party vendors. It is pricey, so I’m including a link to other stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Elizabeth and the Royal Pony by Joan Holub, illustrated by Nonna Aleshina, 2007, paperback, published by Ready-to-Read Aladdin Paperbacks – this book, part of a series called Young Princesses Around the World, is based on a true story about Elizabeth I of England. Defined by the publisher as a Level 3 reader for “Reading Proficiently”, this series provides a rich vocabulary, more-challenging stories, and longer chapters. Beautifully illustrated, this book is printed in large print for ease in reading and is only available from 3rd-party sellers. This is a link to the other stories in the series should you wish to collect them all.
Penny, Breyer Stablemates by Jane E. Gerver, illustrated by Lisa Papp, 2006, published by Cartwheel Books Scholastic Inc. – defined as a Level 3 book by the publisher, their description of Level 3 is slightly different than the one above. Their description of Level 3 says “growing reader, 700-1500 words, reading for inspiration and information, grade level 1-3.” In this chapter book, sure to enchant the horse-lover in your family (part of a series about horses), Princess Isabella and her horse, Penny, go on a quest through the woods, to the river, the desert, and the mountains to collect magic jewels. Only available through 3rd-party sellers, here’s a link to the others in the series.
The Secret History of Mermaids and Creatures of the Deep by Professor Ari Berk, illustrated by Douglas Carrel, Wayne Anderson, Gary Chalk, Matt Dangler, Virginia Lee, 2009, Candlewick Press – this thick-page book is a collection of findings by the fictional Order of the Golden Quills and has the look of both a journal and an encyclopedia with pages that open outward to reveal more fanciful merfolk, facts, lore, and legends.
The Land of Stories: The Ultimate Book Hugger’s Guide by Chris Colfer, illustrated by Brandon Dorman, 2018, Little, Brown and Company – my newest purchase, I bought this because I have bought many of Chris Colfer’s books and given them as gifts to my great-nieces (so they aren’t in my bookcase!). This book is a companion guide to the characters and lands that are in his other books and provides a bit of “back story” to each. I don’t know, yet, whether I’m keeping it or giving it to them – I love books and can be a bit selfish that way! Anyway, here’s a little “back story” about Chris himself – he played Kurt Hummel on the musical television series, Glee, and has now become a New York Times best-selling children’s book author. Apparently, there might be a feature film in production about this successful series.
My Family Reading Books
My love of bedtime stories is a direct result of having children’s books as a child and having my parents read to me and my siblings. We have many warm, fuzzy memories of those times past. When my father retired and became a grandfather, he loved to read to his grandchildren.
The above photo, a page from one of my parents’ scrapbooks, is of my father, Chuck, reading to his grandson and my nephew, Kyle. Kyle is now 27-years-old and has a long red beard!
Here’s Grandpa reading bedtime stories to Kyle again, but this time Kyle’s allowed his two older sisters, Nicole on the left and Melissa on the right, to be part of storytime! So precious!
While I do love the convenience of Amazon, I do still shop at brick-and-mortar stores and I love nothing better than shopping with my great-nieces, Princess P, and Princess Sweetie Pie.
Here’s Princess P choosing just the right diary during a recent outing to Barnes and Noble. She’s so grown up now!
And, here she is writing a story in her new journal. Her mom, Tiffany, sent me this picture one evening just to show me that Princess P loved her new book and loved creating her own story with the story prompts. Wonder where/how this story ended?
Both girls love to read and find time wherever they go. Here they are with two friends sprawled all over the living room of a cabin in Big Bear reading after a fun-filled day of snowy activities.
Princess Sweetie Pie (the same one asleep on my arm at the beginning of this post!) fully engrossed in what appears to be a graphic novel.
Here’s Princess P on a recent overnight outing reading in her hotel room.
And, Princess Sweet Pie in the same hotel reading in a balcony-type window overlooking the grounds of the fantastic hotel (the Mission Inn in Riverside, California).
Would you do me a favor? Would you share this post on social media? Even better, if you’d like to refer back to it later, please save it to one of your Pinterest boards. Thanks!
One more story before I let you go…
When I first married Charlie, I read books all the time and carried a book with me about 90% of the time. Charlie, on the other hand, never read a book; at least not during that time in his life when we first married. One day we stopped at a grocery store on the way home from somewhere and Charlie decided he’d rather sit in the car and wait while I shopped rather than go in with me. Well, I have to tell you the truth about me and grocery shopping – it’s never a quick one-and-done stop for me. I can spend hours in the grocery store for two reasons: (1) I read food labels; as a migraine sufferer, this is a “must” for me, and (2) I like to try new things so I’m always looking over new products.
Anyway, I warned him I would be at least an hour. But, I had a book with me, Clive Cussler’s Dragon, and told him if he got bored with people watching, he could read my book. Well, he got bored and started reading my book. From that day forward, I created a monster: a voracious reader of thrillers, adventure books, and mysteries. He now reads two to three books a week and will only read hardbacks. It’s his major pastime and he’s been at it almost 30 years now! I take great pride in creating a reader, even if he’d rather read a book than go shopping with me! So, if my calculations are right, Charlie has read anywhere between 3,000 and 4,500 books or more since he met me. Am I ever proud of that achievement!
I used to write a monthly post about the books Charlie read during the previous month and if you are interested in reading short snippet reviews of those books, you can find them here:
We lost a great many books in the wildfire in 2007, but since then have managed to amass quite a collection in the last eleven years. Periodically, we weed through our book collection and donate them to various charities. Many times I place them in one of the cute kiosks around various neighborhoods run by the Little Free Library. Such a wonderful idea!
Thanks for sticking around and reading this super-long post! As a reward, here’s a doodle video about reading for you to share with your kids!
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