Madison and Ava's "Perfect" Before-Bed Reading List

shelved under Children's Books and Bloggers' Picks

My family (wife Gwen and daughters Madison and Ava, 7 and 5) does a lot of reading, and writing, and we've worked together to compile our "perfect" list of favorite before-bed books, dating back to when the girls were toddlers, all the way to the present day.

In addition to the books below, we're also big fans of these authors and series:

Dr. Seuss
Curious George
Eric Carle
Richard Scarry
Amelia Bedelia
The Magic School Bus
Katie Kazoo Switcheroo (Madison's current favorite series, cute and well-written, and an easy read with short and parent-friendly chapters.)


Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

Before the girls could speak in complete sentences, they could respond to the line "And a quiet old lady who was whispering..." with a lingering "hush..."


I Don't Want to Live on the Moon

by Jeff Moss, illustrated by Dagmar Fehlau

The question with this one was always whether to sing it or read it. We usually sang.


I Love You As Much...

by Laura Krauss Melmed, illustrated by Henri Sorensen

Endearing little story Ava particularly loved.


I Love You, Little One

by Nancy Tafuri

Another of Ava's favorites.


Good Night, Princess Pruney Toes

by Lisa McCourt, illustrated by Cyd Moore

Madison loved this book. Nice father-daughter relationship.


Giggle, Giggle, Quack

by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Funny and endearing little book; both girls enjoyed it.



by Leo Lionni

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

This book is not only about getting along with others but also about being yourself — two lessons that usually don't go together in the same book!


Tikki Tikki Tembo

by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

Who doesn't remember the name of the main character? Everyone, repeat after me... "Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo" :-)


Strega Nona

written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Really great book we've read as much as any other, and it reinforces our Italian heritage, which we're always happy to drive home. Ava calls it the "spaghetti book."

This book also appears on Great Reads for Culinary Kids


Double Pink

by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Bruce Ingman

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

This book is about one thing, and one thing only: pink, pink, pink, pink, pink. (There might be a lesson in there, too, someplace.)


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

by Mo Willems

Peter from Flashlight Worthy says:

This is a fun book that explores the challenges of communication with a pre-verbal child. Little Trixie gets upset when she loses her beloved stuffed Knuffle Bunny and becomes frustrated when she can't explain what happened to Dad. The psychology of the story is spot-on and simple: this is exactly what happens to children before they can talk, and the book is for parents as it is for the kids.


Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity

by Mo Willems

Maluhia says:

K-nuffle or 'nuffle, however you say it, it's the dads who are the true heroes in this sequel.


The Kissing Hand

by Audrey Penn

Miss Hannah says:

Reluctant to be away from his mom, the little raccoon doesn't want to go to school. But then mom gives him a secret gift that will make it all better. Going to school is often the first time a child is away from mom for any length of time. It's not easy for either the mother or the child. Reading this book might give you the key to helping your child, and yourself, over that hurdle.


A Pocket Full of Kisses

by Audrey Penn

Miss Hannah says:

Having learned to be away from mom in The Kissing Hand, the little raccoon must now learn to share mom with a little brother. A great book for preparing any child for the big brother (or sister) experience. Beautifully illustrated.

This book also appears on Books About Children and Their Moms


Grace for President

by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

There's an interesting story behind this one. Ms. DiPucchio found my blog when she noticed this post. She sent us a copy of her book (a signed copy, at that) and Madison loved it, and asked me to add that book to this list. I asked her why she liked the story and she said, "I don't know, I've always wanted a girl to be president." Then she told me that she heard Hillary Clinton is now supporting Barack Obama, so this is a timely addition, I think.


Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer

Gwen reads this to Ava, and it's full of little real-world situations that define words like proud, modest, patient, cooperate, and respect. Really well done, with nice illustrations.