Bedtime story classics

Bedtime Stories for Kids: Classics, Diversity, and More (2022)

If you think back to your childhood, you might remember the soothing ritual of having your parents read you a bedtime story. From fairy tales like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast to fables like King Midas and His Golden Touch and Peter Rabbit, there are a host of popular stories to choose from. Beyond their engaging plots, bedtime stories have a number of benefits for children, including improving vocabulary, inspiring creativity, and forming deeper familial bonds.

To learn more about our readers’ favorite bedtime stories, Mattress Clarity sent out a survey to determine the most popular stories and why readers enjoyed them so much. You’ll see some of their responses and personal anecdotes as well.

Below you’ll find information on benefits of reading bedtime stories, lists of stories ranging from the classics to those that explore good morals and diversity, recommendations from educators, and tips for making bedtime stories more fun!

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Benefits of Bedtime Stories | Classic Bedtime Stories | Bedtime Stories with Good Morals | Bedtime Stories Celebrating Diversity | Our Readers’ Favorites | Recommendations from Educators | Tips & Playlist

Benefits of Bedtime Stories

Did you know that a child’s reading level by third grade statistically determines how well they’ll do in school in the future? One of the best ways you can improve your child’s literacy is by reading to them. Bedtime stories are a tried and true method for improving children’s vocabulary, expanding their imagination, practicing patience, and even teaching them empathy and understanding through the stories’ morals. Some other benefits of reading bedtime stories include:

  • The repetition and structure of an established routine will help children feel safe.
  • You’ll form a deeper bond between parent and child.
  • It helps children transition from a busy day to a quiet night.
  • Your child will likely open up about their thoughts and feelings.
  • It stimulates their imagination.
  • A consistent bedtime routine helps children get to sleep and results in better daytime behavior, a study found.

Bedtime stories can be a powerful tool for helping your child establish a healthy nighttime routine. Sarah Miller, Founder of Homeschooling 4 Him, says “Routines give a sense of comfort and familiarity, especially for younger children who don’t understand the concepts of time. She also highlights how it can improve their sleep: “Reading a bedtime story at the same time every night, or even reading the same bedtime story every night, can send helpful signals to a child’s brain that it is time to get ready for sleep.”

Research suggests that the best time to start reading to your child is around 8 months. Though your child may not understand what you’re saying, they can start to comprehend the emotions associated with stories. Additionally, it’s important to note that there is an optimal way to read bedtime stories — when your child is old enough to respond, you want to be sure to ask them open-ended questions about the stories to boost their engagement.

Classic Bedtime Stories

There are a number of classic bedtime stories that have been shared through generations. Many can recite these stories (or the gist of them) by heart. Take a look at some of the most well-known stories below.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

This fairy tale originated in Britain in the 19th century. It’s about a little blonde-haired girl who finds an empty house in the woods. Though she doesn’t know it yet, the home belongs to three bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. Goldilocks tries their porridge, sits in their chairs, and goes to lay in their beds. When the bears come home, a frightened Goldilocks escapes in the nick of time.

The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling is a Danish fairytale written by celebrated children’s author Hans Christian Andersen in 1843. It tells the story of a duckling who was born “uglier” than his siblings. They ostracize him, and he spends a year looking for a home, unable to find where he belongs. When he’s nearly given up, he throws himself at a pack of beautiful swans, expecting them to kill him. However, the swans accept him as one of their own, and when he sees his reflection, he realizes he’s grown into a beautiful swan himself.

Jack and the Beanstalk

This British fairy tale was originally called The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean in 1734. It’s about a boy who trades his poor family’s only cow for magic beans. Though his mother is enraged at his foolish purchase, Jack plants the seeds and they grow into a gigantic beanstalk that reaches above the clouds. Jack climbs it to find the home of a giant. Though the giant can sense Jack’s presence, shouting “Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the Blood of an Englishman!” Jack is able to escape with the giant’s treasures, including a goose that lays golden eggs. The giant tries to chase him down the beanstalk, but Jack is able to cut it down before the giant can reach him.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Published in 1900, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s book written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow; it was later adapted into a film in 1939. It’s about a girl named Dorothy who lives in Kansas. When a tornado sweeps up her home, Dorothy finds herself transported to the land of Oz. Intent on finding a way home, she follows a yellow brick road, on which she picks up other characters looking for something. This includes a cowardly lion, a tin man, and a scarecrow. They all head to Oz to find the wizard, who they believe can solve their problems. However, the wizard turns out to be just an ordinary man. Still, together they are able to find what they were looking for.

Beauty and the Beast

This fairy tale originated in France in 1740 where it was originally published as La Belle et la Bête. Written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, it tells the story of a beautiful young girl, Beauty, who is forced to live in a castle with the Beast after her father plucks a rose from the Beast’s castle. The Beast plans to marry Beauty, but she only sees him as a friend. It is only after the Beast dies of shame, and beauty cries for her lost friend, that he is transformed into a prince. He tells Beauty that he was cursed by an enchantress for his selfish ways, and only true love could break the curse.


Though this story has origins in ancient Greece, the first literary version was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in 1634. In this fairy tale, a beautiful young girl named Ella tragically loses her mother. Her father remarries an evil stepmother, who has two cruel daughters. Tragically, her father dies soon after the marriage. Ella’s stepmother and stepsisters make Ella their maid, giving her the nickname Cinderella, since she is often covered in cinder from her work. When the family is invited to the royal ball, Cinderella cannot go because she has nothing to wear.

However, a fairy godmother appears and makes her a beautiful dress and carriage; the only catch is that she must be home by midnight. She arrives at the ball and catches the eye of the prince. They dance through the night, but when the clock gets close to midnight, Cinderella hurries away, leaving a glass slipper behind. The prince finds her slipper and vows to find the woman it belongs to. He goes to each house until he finds Cinderella, who becomes his princess.

Mattress Clarity reader Crystal Walker loves this story because “It teaches that dreams can come true.

Little Red Riding Hood

The earliest known written version of this fairy tale was by Charles Perrault in 17th century France. Little Red Riding Hood is about a young girl who must travel through the woods to deliver food to her sickly grandmother. Along the way, a wolf stalks her path, and asks her where she is going. Foolishly, she tells the wolf she is going to her grandmother’s house. The wolf manages to get to her grandmother’s house first and eats her grandmother. The wolf then disguises himself as the grandmother. When Little Red Riding Hood arrives at her home, she is initially fooled by the disguise, long enough for the wolf to convince her to enter. Finally, he eats the young girl as well.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Written and illustrated by English writer Beatrix Potter in 1902, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is about a mischievous bunny whose mother warns him and her other three rabbits, Mopsy, Flopsy, and Cottontail, not to enter Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. She tells them that their father did so, and Mr. McGregor made him into a pie. Though his siblings follow their mother’s advice, Peter goes into the garden anyway and gorges on vegetables. Mr. McGregor spots him and chases him away. Peter escapes, but his clothes are left behind; Mr. McGregor ends up using his clothes as a scarecrow.

Bedtime Stories with Good Morals

Many bedtime stories, particularly fairy tales, are written with morals that are meant to teach the audience something. They show that actions have reactions, and when we behave badly, we often have to suffer the consequences. By reading such stories to young children, you can help teach them valuable lessons that they can apply to real life situations. Take a look at some popular bedtime stories with good morals.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Aesop

This story is about a boy who continually says he’s spotted a wolf when he hasn’t, just to get attention. However, when a real wolf finally does appear, no one comes to his aid, as they no longer believe him.

Moral: When you don’t tell the truth, people won’t trust you, even when you are telling the truth.

Mattress Clarity reader Brenda likes this story because “It teaches a very valuable lesson about lying about serious situations.”

King Midas and His Golden Touch by Nathaniel Hawthorne (adapted from myth)

King Midas wishes that everything he touches would turn to gold. He is initially delighted when his wish comes true, but soon he discovers that it is a curse rather than a gift, as he can’t even touch food without it turning into gold.

Moral: Greed won’t buy true happiness

Wise Old Owl author unknown

An owl hears more the less he speaks, and so he speaks less to hear more.

Moral: When you are silent and listening, you will learn more

The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop

A hare makes fun of a slow tortoise, and so the tortoise challenges him to a race. The hare accepts, but since he believes the tortoise will be so slow, he decides to take a nap. Slowly but steadily, the tortoise continues on, passing by the sleeping hare. The hare wakes up too late, and the tortoise wins the race.

Moral: Slow and steady wins the race

The Golden Egg by Aesop

A merchant living in a village with his wife and children has a hen that lays one golden egg per day. The merchant decides this is not enough; he wants all the eggs at once. He decides to kill the hen to get all the eggs inside it, but he realizes after he kills it there are no eggs inside, and he has no way to get more golden eggs.

Moral: Greed will get you nowhere

“My mother used to read me Aesop’s Fables when I was little and there’s always a lesson to be learned” says Mattress Clarity reader Kimberly Pikna.

The Farmer and the Well by F. K. Waechter

A farmer in need of water buys a well from his neighbor. However, his tricky neighbor won’t give him the well’s water, telling him he only bought the well, not the water. The farmer seeks counsel from his emperor’s courtier, who tells the neighbor that if the farmer cannot have the water, then the neighbor must remove all the water from his well.

Moral: Cheating will come back to bite you

The Wolf who Wanted to Change his Color by Orianne Lallemand

A wolf decides he is unhappy with his natural color, so he tries a series of methods to change his coat. Each method fails, and in the end, he realizes that his original color suited him best.

Moral: Accept yourself for who you are

The Dragon Who Couldn’t Puff by Chelsea Burgess

A house dragon wants to learn how to breathe fire like his mother and sister, but when he tries, he can’t. His mother teaches him that he’ll need to try many times before he is successful. At first he doesn’t want to keep trying, but he learns that to do it right, he’ll need to.

Moral: Practice makes perfect

Guapo’s Giant Heart by Janet Zappala and Wendy Perkins

Based on the true, heartwarming story of a baby calf with no place to live, until a kind human gives him a loving home. With a safe place to rest his head – along with plenty of food and love – Guapo keeps growing and growing! The story introduces young readers to Guapo and explores how despite his large appearance, he’s really quite gentle and kind.

Moral: Lean into one another despite differences and appreciate everyone

Bedtime Stories Celebrating Diversity

Bedtime stories that highlight diversity can be a great way to teach children to accept everyone’s differences. These stories show that everyone deserves to be treated with the same respect and kindness. Check out these bedtime stories that all celebrate diversity.

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
Lola is a young African American girl who loves to visit the library with her mother to read new books, listen to the librarian, and meet a diverse group of friends.

Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke
In Nigeria, a baby goes to market with his mother. The busy market is full of different vendors, who give him things to add to the basket. This book introduces children to numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Mommy, Mama, and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me by Lesléa Newman
These picture books illustrate children in loving families with gay parents.

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Young Julian spies colorful women on a train and wants to dress up like them. His newfound identity challenges his abuela’s ideas, and illustrates that individuality doesn’t have to be defined by gender norms.

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Marisol is a Peruvian-Scottish biracial girl, with brown skin and red hair. She doesn’t like anything that matches, including clothing and food. Her mismatching style confuses others but makes perfect sense to Marisol.

Sesame Street – We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
Elmo and the other Sesame Street puppets teach children that we are all the same on the inside, but our outer differences are what make us unique. Our different races, religions, and customs create diversity — something to celebrate.

Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora
Carmelita lives in a diverse neighborhood full of different cultures and languages. She learns to say hello in many of these languages, and her dog Manny greets everyone with a happy woof.

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko
This holiday book is about young Sadie, who has a Christian father and Jewish mother. Her blended family celebrates both holidays and their unique traditions.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers
This board book highlights the diversity of babies around the world and shows that they are loved and cared for, no matter where they come from.

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs
A little boy with dark skin and curly hair is teased for how he looks. He tells his mom he wishes he could look like everyone else, and she shows him how he is unique and special in his own way.

Mama Panya’s Pancakes by Mary Chamberlin
In a Kenyan village, Mama Panya’s son Adika invites all his neighbors to have pancakes at his house, and Mama Panya must figure out how to feed them all.

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith
A little African girl named Red wants to visit her sickly auntie, but she must pass by wild animals, including a hungry lion. The lion wants to eat Red, but she tricks him and convinces him to eat doughnuts instead.

Mattress Clarity Readers’ Favorite Bedtime Stories

We surveyed our readers about their favorite classic bedtime stories for kids, and the top voted story is Goldilocks and the Three Bears with 38. 7% of votes! The second and third runners up are Little Red Riding Hood with 36% of votes and Cinderella with 29.3% of votes.

Take a look at some of the other stories beloved by Mattress Clarity readers:

Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray 
“I was a scared, timid child. I identified with Little Orphan Annie. I liked the ending. It taught me to be strong no matter what is being thrown at me.” – Carol Marshall

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
“Teaches altruism and gives perspective on aging to young children.” – Mattress Clarity reader

The Elves and the Shoemaker by the Brothers Grimm
“A great story about helping without looking for recognition” – Kathy Agate

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
“The illustrations are classic and have withstood the test of time, and it spreads a positive message of people’s relationship with food and eating. ” – Anthony O’Reilly

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
“It teaches you not to judge others by their appearance (celebrating diversity) as well as obey and appreciate your parents.” – Carley Prendergast

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
“It teaches unconditional love between generations. Love from a parent to a young child then an adult child to their elderly parent.” – Lori Viator

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
“It’s always good to be a generous person but don’t spread yourself too thin.” – Kristin Lovett

There was a Lady who Swallowed a Fly by Rose Bonne and Alan Mills
Recommended by Aziz Khatri, Creator of Bablr Early Learning
“We recommend this story because of its rhyming nature, most kids really enjoy it. Using common animals which are known to most kids starting with toddlers, it weaves a sequential narrative which very naturally encourages the child to predict what’s happening next – a great exercise for early brain development and neural growth.

The Big Book of Animal Stories by Thornton Burgess
Recommended by Sarah Miller, Founder of Homeschooling 4 Him
“This book has short chapters, which makes it perfect for bedtime and for kids with short attention spans. The lovable animal characters are easy for kids to relate to and there are lots of great life lessons throughout.”

How the Moon Regained Her Shape by Janet Ruth Heller
Recommended by Janet Ruth Heller, former teacher and principal
“How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; 6th edition 2018) is a fiction picture book about the solar system and bullying for young children, their families, their schools, houses of worship, sports teams, and other organizations that help children. In addition to teaching children about coping with bullies, this book would be a good start on STEM activities for kids.”

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Recommended by Vanessa Fassbinder, Co-founder of Child Insider
“The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is my favorite bedtime story for kids. Not only is it a great book to read to toddlers, but it’s also excellent for kids who are around ten years old. Its whimsical characters and the classic Seussical wordplay make it a stellar read. But it’s the story’s message that is highly important. The book highlights that respect for the environment and all living creatures is what’s needed to preserve the planet for future generations.”

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Recommended by Michelle Moyal, CCC/SL, Clinical Director & Founder of Therapy Works Together
“It’s rhythmic and repetitive (great for learning new vocabulary), just a bit odd but stimulates the imagination. The illustrations are incredible for prompting a discussion with a child and talking about what they see.”

History of Bedtime Stories and How They’ve Changed Over Time

Storytelling is a tradition that dates back to the start of human linguistics, and thus bedtime stories may have been repeated to children for thousands of years. However, the term “bedtime story” was coined by Louise Chandler Moulton, who wrote Bed-Time Stories in 1873. The ritual of reading bedtime stories gained popularity in the 19th and 20th century, when people began to believe in the benefits of soothing nighttime routines for children.

Bedtime stories range in category from ancient myths to fairytales. Some of the oldest bedtime stories are by Aesop, a storyteller who lived in Ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. His stories are especially popular as they contain morals, or lessons to be learned. These stories, like The Tortoise and the Hare or The Big Bad Wolf, show children the importance of doing the right thing.

Another key benefit of bedtime stories is their ability to forge stronger connections between children and parents. They allow families to spend more quality time together, and create memories that will last a lifetime. In addition, they help spark children’s imagination and creativity. Listening to stories allows them to create a unique picture in their minds — something they won’t get by watching TV or playing on an iPad.

Tips to Make Reading Bedtime Stories Fun

It can be a challenge to get children to sit still and listen. Take a look at some of these tips to get your child more engaged in the story.

  • Use big emotions and expression
  • Ask questions
  • Change voice to match characters
  • Show excitement and joy
  • Make sounds and noises, and allow the child to imitate you!
  • Children learn from repetition – don’t worry about reading the same story repeatedly

Final Thoughts

Bedtime stories can be a fun and educational bonding activity for you and your children. Whether you choose fanciful fairy tales or moralistic fables, you’ll be helping your child improve their vocabulary and expand their imagination. You’ll also be establishing a nighttime routine, which makes children feel safe and can help them fall asleep faster. Remember to use helpful tips like asking questions and showing excitement to help keep them invested in the story. Happy reading!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Bedtime Stories Playlist on Spotify!

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Hi there! My name is Zoë Ettinger and I'm a Certified Sleep Science Coach and the Senior Editor here at Mattress Clarity. I oversee all the content on our site, and work with the team to provide you with the best reviews and sleep health content possible. When I'm not busy testing out sleep products or writing articles, I love to read and cook.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin | Fairy Tales

Story Reads: 72,371


This is a vintage fairy tale, and may contain violence. We would encourage parents to read beforehand  if your child is sensitive to such themes.

Hamelin is a sleepy little town upon the Solent shore. Sleepy as it is now, it was once noisy enough, and what made the noise was—rats. The place was so infested with them as to be scarce worth living in. There wasn’t a barn or a corn-rick, a store-room or a cupboard, but they ate their way into it. Not a cheese but they gnawed it hollow, not a sugar puncheon but they cleared out. Why the very mead and beer in the barrels was not safe from them. They’d gnaw a hole in the top of a wine cask, and down would go one master rat’s tail, and when he brought it up round would crowd all the friends and cousins, and each would have a suck at the tail.

Had they stopped here it might have been bearable. But the squeaking and shrieking, the hurrying and scurrying, so that you could neither hear yourself speak nor get a wink of good honest sleep the live-long night! Not to mention that, Mamma must needs sit up, and keep watch and ward over baby’s cradle, or there’d have been a big ugly rat running across the poor little fellow’s face, and doing who knows what mischief.

Why didn’t the good people of the town have cats? Well they did, and there was a fair stand-up fight, but in the end the rats were too many, and the pussies were regularly driven from the field. Poison, I hear you say? Why, they poisoned so many that it fairly bred a plague. Ratcatchers! Why there wasn’t a ratcatcher from John o’ Groat’s house to the Land’s End that hadn’t tried his luck. But do what they might, cats or poison, terrier or traps, there seemed to be more rats than ever, and every day a fresh rat was cocking his tail or pricking his whiskers.

The Mayor and the town council were at their wits’ end. As they were sitting one day in the town hall racking their poor brains, and bewailing their hard fate, who should run in but the town beadle.

“Please your Honour,” says he, “here is a very queer fellow come to town. I don’t rightly know what to make of him.”

“Show him in,” said the Mayor, and in he stepped.

A queer fellow, truly. For there wasn’t a colour of the rainbow but you might find it in some corner of his dress, and he was tall and thin, and had keen piercing eyes.

“I’m called the Pied Piper,” he began. “And pray what might you be willing to pay me, if I rid you of every single rat in Hamelin?”

Well, much as they feared the rats, they feared parting with their money more, and they would have higgled and haggled. But the Piper was not a man to stand nonsense, and the upshot was that fifty pounds were promised him (and it meant a lot of money in those old days) as soon as not a rat was left to squeak or scurry in Hamelin.

Out of the hall stepped the Piper, and as he stepped he laid his pipe to his lips and a shrill keen tune sounded through street and house. And as each note pierced the air you might have seen a strange sight. For out of every hole the rats came tumbling. There were none too old and none too young, none too big and none too little to crowd at the Piper’s heels and with eager feet and upturned noses to patter after him as he paced the streets. Nor was the Piper unmindful of the little toddling ones, for every fifty yards he’d stop and give an extra flourish on his pipe just to give them time to keep up with the older and stronger of the band.

Up Silver Street he went, and down Gold Street, and at the end of Gold Street is the harbour and the broad Solent River beyond. And as he paced along, slowly and gravely, the townsfolk flocked to door and window, and many a blessing they called down upon his head.

As for getting near him, there were too many rats. And now that he was at the water’s edge he stepped into a boat, and not a rat, as he shoved off into deep water, piping shrilly all the while, but followed him, plashing, paddling, and wagging their tails with delight. On and on he played and played until the tide went down, and each master rat sank deeper and deeper in the slimy ooze of the harbour, until every mother’s son of them was dead and smothered.

The tide rose again, and the Piper stepped on shore, but never a rat followed. You may fancy the townsfolk had been throwing up their caps and hurrahing and stopping up rat holes and setting the church bells a-ringing. But when the Piper stepped ashore and not so much as a single squeak was to be heard, the Mayor and the Council, and the townsfolk generally, began to hum and to ha and to shake their heads.

For the town money chest had been sadly emptied of late, and where was the fifty pounds to come from? Such an easy job, too! Just getting into a boat and playing a pipe! Why the Mayor himself could have done that if only he had thought of it.

So he hummed and ha’ad and at last,

“Come, my good man,” said the Mayor, “you see what poor folk we are; how can we manage to pay you fifty pounds? Will you not take twenty? When all is said and done, it will be good pay for the trouble you’ve taken.”

“Fifty pounds was what I bargained for,” said the piper shortly; “and if I were you I’d pay it quickly. For I can pipe many kinds of tunes, as folk sometimes find to their cost.”

“Would you threaten us, you strolling vagabond?” shrieked the Mayor, and at the same time he winked to the Council; “the rats are all dead and drowned,” muttered he; and so “You may do your worst, my good man,” and with that he turned short upon his heel.

“Very well,” said the Piper, and he smiled a quiet smile. With that he laid his pipe to his lips afresh, but now there came forth no shrill notes, as it were, of scraping and gnawing, and squeaking and scurrying, but the tune was joyous and resonant, full of happy laughter and merry play. And as he paced down the streets the elders mocked, but from school-room and play-room, from nursery and workshop, not a child but ran out with eager glee and shout following gaily at the Piper’s call. Dancing, laughing, joining hands and tripping feet, the bright throng moved along up Gold Street and down Silver Street, and beyond Silver Street lay the cool green forest full of old oaks and wide-spreading beeches. In and out among the oak-trees you might catch glimpses of the Piper’s many-coloured coat. You might hear the laughter of the children break and fade and die away as deeper and deeper into the lone green wood the stranger went and the children followed.

All the while, the elders watched and waited. They mocked no longer now. And watch and wait as they might, never did they set their eyes again upon the Piper in his parti-coloured coat. Never were their hearts gladdened by the song and dance of the children issuing forth from amongst the ancient oaks of the forest.

Short Story collected by Joseph Jacobs

Original vintage Illustrations by John D. Batten

Header Illustration by Honeyflavour

Let’s Chat About The Stories ~ Ideas for Talking With Kids

Promises, Greed

1. Once the rats have been drowned, the villagers decide not to pay the Pied Piper what they said they would. Why did they break this promise? Was this a good reason?

2. Why do you think it’s important to keep promises?

Book Information!

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Bedtime stories for children. Read online with pictures.

In this section we have collected interesting fairy tales from all over the world that are suitable for reading before bed. These small instructive and kind stories will help children calm down after a stormy day and tune in to rest.
In bedtime stories you will not find cruelty and frightening characters. Only light plots and pleasant characters.
At the bottom of each fairy tale there is hint for what age it is intended, as well as other tags. Be sure to pay attention to them when choosing a product! You do not have to spend time reading a fairy tale to find out if it suits your child or not. We have already read everything, sorted and compiled short descriptions of fairy tales.
Enjoy reading and good dreams :)

bedtime stories for children read

An interesting fairy tale is that part of childhood that stays with us forever, even when childhood is gone. This is a magical world that is wide open in front of the baby, and acquaintance with it begins with a short and sweet bedtime story.

At what age to read fairy tales to a child

There is no strict age limit in reading fairy tales to a child. Reading for a child is primarily an opportunity for emotional intimacy with an adult. Even if not a word is clear yet, the familiar timbre of the voice, the measured rhythm soothe the baby and stimulate its development. That is why psychologists recommend reading fairy tales even to babies. The main condition: the process should bring pleasure to both the adult and the baby.

The benefits of reading fairy tales

A bedtime story read by a parent is a powerful stimulus for the development of the child, the child has ample opportunities in the following areas:

  • imagination;
  • fantasy;
  • creative thinking;
  • language skills;
  • emotional development;
  • the ability to find a way out of problem situations.

Unlike cartoons, a fairy tale does not present the child with ready-made images and the world invented by the artist, but invites him to think, think out and imagine what is not in the illustrations.

Simply put, we read to children at night and at the same time unleash their creativity. The next step is the first children's tests of themselves as an author and artist, but that will come later. And now such familiar and at the same time amazing short bedtime stories come to the aid of parents.

Bedtime stories - what should they be?

It often happens that every day a baby asks for the hundredth time to read a familiar fairy tale to him, not wanting to listen to any others.

Do not argue and try to read something new - a bedtime story exists for this, to cradle and give pleasant dreams. So, it should be:

  • short;
  • calm;
  • kind;
  • without dynamic details in the plot, but with a happy ending.

Repeated repetition of the same situation (a familiar room, a favorite blanket and soft toy, next to it is a mother reading a familiar fairy tale) turns into a kind of ritual for the baby, which has a calming effect. It helps relieve the emotional stress that has accumulated over a long day.

Short stories on our website

The Short Bedtime Stories section presents famous works by Russian and foreign authors that have become favorites for children all over the world.

Magic little men created by Astrid Lindgren, kind tigers by Donald Bisset, inseparable Hedgehog and Bear cub by Sergey Kozlov - these and other characters are looking forward to meeting young readers.

Here you will also find folk tales and illustrated works by Vladimir Suteev. Kids will be delighted with simple instructive stories and colorful pictures created by a real Master.

Tips on the website

The free bedtime stories presented on our website are so diverse that sometimes it can be difficult to find the right one. To help parents, we have developed a convenient search engine that allows you to view the parameters of a fairy tale without opening it:

  • readers' age;
  • reading time;
  • short description;
  • popularity indicator;
  • illustration.

Secrets of reading bedtime stories

In order to replace the evening fairy tale with a sweet dream, it should be a short fairy tale, which should be read online in a calm and familiar environment.

Read in a low voice, without haste. Remember, we read to children at night not to give them new knowledge - there is daytime for this. In the evening, it is important to create a relaxing atmosphere and a sense of peace. For this, it is important to choose the right bedtime story, which is why our site is always open for you, dear parents!

Tales for toddlers 1-2-3 years old

It is necessary to educate and support children's love for books from early childhood. By the age of two, the child is already beginning to understand the meaning of 90,005 simple and short 90,006 fairy tales with a simple plot.

Quality illustrations are very important for reading comprehension. With the help of pictures, the child builds a plot sequence for himself and better perceives the text. We tried to find illustrations from the best artists in order to develop the artistic taste of the baby from early childhood and instill a love of reading. In addition, fairy tales help the baby broaden your horizons and increase your vocabulary .

The tale about Kolobok is found in Russian and Ukrainian folklore, and also has analogues in the tales of many other peoples. Our site presents a version of a folk tale in the processing of A.N. Tolstoy. "Gingerbread Man" read Once upon a time there was an old man with an old woman. Here ...

Grade 1

A short tale about a trusting girl and a cunning gray wolf. Disobeying her mother, the girl turns off the road and talks to a stranger - a gray wolf ... "Little Red Riding Hood" read Once upon a time there was a little girl. Her mother loved her without memory, and her grandmother ...

Grade 2

A fairy tale about three brothers-piglets who built houses for themselves. One brother built a house out of straw, another out of twigs and twigs, and a third out of bricks. "Three Little Pigs" read Once upon a time there were three little pigs in the world. Three brothers. All…

Grade 1

Kitten named Woof — a series of short stories about the adventures of the kitten Woof and his friend, Sharik the puppy. Ridiculous situations constantly happen to Gav, as soon as he goes out into the yard. Together with his friend, he manages…

Grade 1

The turnip is a famous fairy tale for the little ones with a lot of repetitions. The child quickly remembers the sequence of presentation and a simple plot. "Turnip" read Grandfather planted a turnip and says: - Grow a turnip, sweet, sweet! Grow big, big! A turnip has grown, sweet and big, big….

A tale about a cowardly hippo who ran away from the clinic because he was afraid of vaccinations. And he got jaundice. Fortunately, he was taken to the hospital and cured. And the hippopotamus felt very ashamed of his behavior… “About the Behemoth who was afraid…

Teremok is a short fairy tale for kids about a house that sheltered many animals. However, the tower could not accommodate a huge bear and broke. "Teremok" read There is a teremok in the field. A mouse runs past. I saw the tower, stopped and asked:—...

A tale about a hedgehog, a hare and a crow who could not share the last apple among themselves. Everyone wanted to own it. But the fair bear judged their argument, and each got a piece of a treat... Read "Apple" It was late...

Grade 1

A short story for the little ones about three restless kittens and their funny adventures. Small children love short stories with pictures, that's why Suteev's fairy tales are so popular and loved! “Three kittens” read Three kittens - black, gray and ...

The story tells about an evil wolf who changed his voice, sneaked into a goat's house and ate little goats. But the mother goat will be able to save her children and get rid of the wolf. "The Wolf and the Seven Kids" read Once upon a time there was a goat with kids ....

A tale about a cunning fox who found a rock on the road and asked people to spend the night, and in the morning burned the rock and demanded a chicken for it. “Fox with a rolling pin” read A fox walked along the path, found a rolling pin. She picked it up and…

Three Bears is a fairy tale about a girl who got lost in the forest and ended up in the bears' house. There she behaved very rudely: without permission, she ate from every cup, sat on every chair, lay down in every bed, ...

A fairy tale about a puppy who was very small and did not know what he would become when he grew up: a guard dog or a hunting dog. Cat Klash told him that he would be a decorative dog. "And who am I?" read Grandma bought a puppy ...

Lillian Moore (March 17, 1909 - July 20, 2004) - American children's writer and poet, known for the fairy tale "Little Raccoon and the one who sits in the pond." In 1963, Carson-Dellosa Publishing was the first Lillian's tale published...

Grade 1

The fairy tale teaches to help others, to be kind and sympathetic. The animals helped each other to hide from the rain under the mushroom, and then they saved the hare from the fox ... Read under the mushroom Once upon a time the Ant was caught in a heavy rain. Where to hide?…

A tale about how the animals in the forest decided to arrange a holiday for an old and respected spruce tree, which was 100 years old. Her birthday was in the summer, and she wanted to look like on New Year's Eve. “Birthday…

Grade 1-2

The Fox and the Crane is a fairy tale about friendship between a cunning fox and a smart crane. The crane could not eat the semolina porridge, which the Fox smeared on a plate. He invited her to his place and treated her to a delicious okroshka, which he put ...

Mashenka and the Bear is a fairy tale about a girl who got lost in the forest and ended up in a bear's hut. The bear did not let Mashenka go home, however, the girl came up with a way to return to her grandparents. Masha and…

A fairy tale about a Bunny who decided to build a house for himself, and different animals began to give him advice… A house for a Bunny to read The Hare got tired of sleeping under a bush. He decided to build a house. — Build your own nest on an oak tree, - she advised...

In the fairy tale the reader is told why the dog could not make friends with either the hare, or the wolf, or the bear. Only with a man did she find a common language ... (retelling by K.T. Samorodov) Like a dog looking for a friend to read Long ago in ...

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  • Wives in the mirror

    Chinese fairy tale

    In a small village there lived a mother with two sons, extremely smart and reasonable. They just didn't want to get married. And then one day at midnight, the mother came out of the house, looked at the starry sky and said: “Children ...

  • Fearless Giovannino

    Italian fairy tale

    A fairy tale about the fearless guy Giovannino, who decided to spend the night in a castle from which no one had ever left alive in the morning. Giovanino not only survived, but also became rich. "Fearless Giovannino" read Once upon a time there was one guy ....

  • The Orange Princess

    Italian fairy tale

    A fairy tale about a prince who could not choose a princess for himself, they all seemed ugly to him. And so he sat on a good horse and rode around the world to look for a bride for himself ... "Princess of Orange" read Once upon a time there was a prince in the world, ...

  • Parsley

    Italian fairy tale

    Once upon a time there was a husband and wife. When the wife was expecting a child, she really wanted parsley and she tore it in the witches' garden. For this, the sorceresses ordered to give them the child when he grows up ... "Petrushechka" read Once upon a time there was a husband and ...

    A story about how a goose and her goslings got into a polynya on the Yenisei. The hero of the story and his friends saved the geese from death, they risked themselves. "Geese in the polynya" read Freezing on the Yenisei comes gradually. First…

  • Smell of hay

    Astafiev V.P.

    Two boys, cousins, are eager to help their grandfather and uncle bring hay from distant mowing. However, they are not taken with them, the road is hard, the work is difficult. But in the evening, when the hay is already in the yard, the guys are eager and ...

  • Autumn sorrows and joys

    Autumn is a hot time. It is necessary to collect and prepare the entire crop. A story about how a large amount of cabbage is salted for the winter in one of the Siberian villages. It is in some way a mystical and interesting ritual and process….

  • A photograph where I am not present

    Astafiev V.P.

    A story about true friendship, sincere love for the native land and shows what a real teacher should be like. It is important to remember those who were with you as a child. These people can be an important part of your life. And together…

  • Russian women

    Nekrasov N.A.

    Contents: ♦ I. Princess Trubetskaya ♦ Part one ♦ Part two ♦ Princess M. N. Volkonskaya ♦ Chapter I ♦ Chapter II ♦ Chapter III ♦ Chapter IV…

  • Tam Glen

    Burns R.

    Oh, aunt, I ask for advice! With such a young man, I don’t have to be afraid of the fate of change. I will be glad of poverty, - If only I would be with me...

  • Lines about war and love

    Burns R. I give my blood In that life-creating battle, What we call love. I glorify the triumph of the world, Contentment and prosperity. It is more pleasant to create one Than to destroy a dozen!

  • What's a girl to do

    Burns R.

    What's a girl to do? What shall I do, little girl? How shall I, little girl, live with my hubby? He is grouchy and sick, always dissatisfied. There is cold in his chest, ice in his hands. He grunts, ... has analogues in the tales of many other peoples. Our site presents a version of a folk tale in the processing of A. N. Tolstoy. "Kolobok" read Once upon a time there was an old man with an old woman. Here ...

  • 2 - Little Red Riding Hood

    Charles Perrault

    A short story about a trusting girl and a cunning gray wolf. Disobeying her mother, the girl turns off the road and talks to a stranger - a gray wolf ... "Little Red Riding Hood" read Once upon a time there was a little girl. Her mother loved her without memory, and her grandmother…

  • 3 - Three little pigs

    Mikhalkov S.

    A fairy tale about three pig brothers who built houses for themselves. One brother built a house out of straw, another out of twigs and twigs, and a third out of bricks. "Three Little Pigs" read Once upon a time there were three little pigs in the world. Three brothers. All…

  • 4 - Turnip

    Russian folk tale

    Turnip is a famous fairy tale for the little ones with a lot of repetitions. The child quickly remembers the sequence of presentation and a simple plot. "Turnip" read Grandfather planted a turnip and says: - Grow a turnip, sweet, sweet! Grow big, big! A turnip has grown, sweet and big, big….

  • 5 - Bremen town musicians

    Entin Yu.S. and Livanov V.B.

    The story of the animals and the young Troubadour who went to the city of Bremen to become street musicians. In the city they stopped in front of the royal castle. The king and princess came out onto the balcony of the palace, the townspeople ran to the square and it began ...

  • 6 - A wolf and seven kids

    Russian folk tale

    The tale tells about an evil wolf who changed his voice, made his way into the goat's house and ate the little kids. But the mother goat will be able to save her children and get rid of the wolf. "The Wolf and the Seven Kids" read Once upon a time there was a goat with kids . ...

  • 7 - The Tale of Tsar Saltan

    Pushkin A.S.

    The tale of Tsar Saltan, of his son, the glorious and mighty hero Prince Gvidon Saltanovich, and of the beautiful Swan Princess is based on the folk tale "Wonderful Sons". Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin enriched the folk work with new plot twists, ...

  • 8 - Seven-flower flower

    Kataev V.P.

    A fairy tale about a girl Zhenya, who was presented with a magic seven-color flower. It had seven petals and could grant any seven wishes. Zhenya spent the first six wishes, but did not receive any pleasure and only made her last wish ...

  • 9 - The Snow Queen test and melt even an icy heart! "The Snow Queen" read Table of contents: ♦   The first story, which tells about ...0008

  • 10 - Three Bears

    Russian folk tale

    Three Bears is a fairy tale about a girl who got lost in the forest and ended up in a house of bears. There she behaved very rudely: without permission, she ate from every cup, sat on every chair, lay in every bed, ...

  • 11 - Geese-Swans

    the swan geese carried the boy away and the little sister went to look for him. The stove, apple tree and river helped the girl save her brother. Read the fairy tale in the processing of A.N. Tolstoy. "Geese-swans" read There lived a man and a woman. At…

  • 12 - The Wizard of the Emerald City

    Volkov A.M.

    "The Wizard of the Emerald City" - a fairy tale story by Alexander Volkov written in 1939 based on the fairy tale by the American writer Frank Baum "The Wise Man of Oz" with some changes. In 1959, a new edition of the book was published, significantly revised ...

  • 13 - The Frog Princess

    Russian folk tale

    The Frog Princess is a Russian folk tale where the main character, Ivan Tsarevich, married a frog by the will of fate. Ivan had no idea that his wife was Vasilisa the Wise, turned by Koshchei into a frog. Ivan hurried, burned the frog skin and had to ...

  • 14 - The Fox and the Crane

    Russian folk tale

    The Fox and the Crane is a fairy tale about friendship between a cunning fox and a clever crane. The crane could not eat the semolina porridge, which the Fox smeared on a plate. He invited her to his place and treated her to a tasty okroshka, which he put down…

  • 15 - Winnie the Pooh and everything

    Alan Milne

    A cheerful and beloved fairy tale about Winnie the Pooh does not obey the laws of the fairy tale genre. The tale is devoid of negative characters, the struggle between good and evil forces. The main characters of the tale are the toys of the boy Christopher, with whom funny situations happen in a magical ...

  • 16 - Masha and the Bear

    Russian folk tale

    Masha and the Bear is a fairy tale about a girl who got lost in the forest and ended up in a bear's hut. The bear did not let Mashenka go home, however, the girl came up with a way to return to her grandparents. Masha and ...

  • 17 - The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish

    Pushkin A.S.

    The tale of a poor fisherman who caught a golden fish in his net. The old man took pity on the fish, released it into the sea. For this, the fish promised to fulfill his every wish. The old man didn’t ask for anything, but when he returned home, he told about…

  • 18 - Hen Ryaba

    Russian folk tale

    Hen Ryaba is the first fairy tale-parable that mothers read to their babies. Children quickly grasp a simple plot and remember it by heart. Hen Ryaba read Once upon a time there was a grandfather and a woman. And they had a Ryaba Hen. The hen laid an egg, yes…

  • 19 - The Little Mermaid

    Hans Christian Andersen

    A touching tale about the Little Mermaid's strong love for the prince. The little mermaid is ready to give up everything that is dear to her for the sake of the human soul and the love of the prince ... The fairy tale formed the basis of the plots of many films, cartoons and musicals. Little Mermaid read In the open…

  • 20 - Thumbelina

    Hans Christian Andersen

    The fairy tale about Thumbelina is loved by children all over the world. A tiny girl born from a flower goes through many trials on the way to her happiness. Fate rewards Thumbelina for her kind heart. The swallow, which she saved earlier, endures…

  • 21 - Puss in Boots

    Charles Perrault

    The tale of an unusual cat, which was inherited by the younger brother from the miller's father. The young man was not very happy at first with his share of the inheritance, but the cunning and intelligent cat made him the richest man and son-in-law of the king ... The cat in ...

  • 22 - Sleeping Beauty

    Charles Perrault

    A fairy tale about a beautiful princess who was cursed by an offended fairy at a celebration in honor of her birth. The old fairy predicted the girl's death from a spindle prick, but the good fairy was able to commute the sentence. The girl did not die, but fell asleep on…

  • 23 - Ax porridge

    Russian folk tale

    Ax porridge is a short fairy tale about a witty soldier. The greedy old woman did not want to feed the soldier, but he outwitted her and got porridge with butter ... Read porridge from an ax The old soldier went on a visit. Tired in…

  • 24 - The ugly duckling

    Hans Christian Andersen

    A fairy tale about the miraculous transformation of an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. The duckling was born unlike his brothers, the inhabitants of the poultry yard disliked him for his dissimilarity to the others. The duckling had to leave the house and go through many trials before he…

  • 25 - The Princess and the Pea

    Hans Christian Andersen

    A short story about how the prince wanted to marry a real princess. One day, a girl knocked on the gate, who was soaked to the skin, but assured that she was a real princess. She was allowed to sleep, and the old queen gave her a check……

  • 26 - Sister Alyonushka and brother Ivanushka

    Russian folk tale

    Sister Alyonushka and brother Ivanushka - this is a fairy tale about how the younger brother disobeyed his sister, got drunk from a hoof and turned into a kid goat to read ... Sister Alyonushka and brother Ivanushka lived -there was an old man and an old woman, they had ...

  • 27 - Fear has big eyes

    Russian folk tale

    Fear has big eyes - a short tale about the fact that from fear you can see what was not really ... ( from the collection of M.M. Serova) Fear has big eyes to read Once upon a time there was an old grandmother, a laughing granddaughter, a chicken-klokhtushka and a mouse-leaf. Each…

  • 28 - Bean seed

    Russian folk tale

    The cockerel and the bean seed is a Russian folk tale about a rooster who was always in a hurry when he pecked at the seeds. The hen warned him all the time and asked him to peck more slowly. One day he choked on a bean seed and fell down. But the chicken...

  • 29 - Sivka Burka

    Russian folk tale

    Sivka-Burka is a fairy tale about the adventures of Ivan the Fool and his gallant horse. Sivka Burka read The old man had three sons: two smart ones, and the third Ivanushka the Fool; day and night the fool is lying on the stove. The old man sowed wheat, and it grew ...

  • 30 - Baba Yaga

    Russian folk tale

    A fairy tale about a girl who was able to get out of the clutches of Baba Yaga, thanks to the advice of her own aunt and a kind cat ... Baba Yaga read Once upon a time there was a husband and wife, and they had a daughter. The wife fell ill and died. Grieved, grieved…

  • 31 - Crocodile Gena and his friends

    Uspensky E.N.

    The tale of the lonely crocodile Gena. Coming home from work from the zoo, he was left alone and bored. Crocodile Gena decided to make friends with someone. He wrote an ad that he was looking for friends, hung them around the city and ...

  • 32 - Teremok

    Russian folk audio tale

    Listen to the Russian folk tale "Teremok" online on the Mishkina Books website!

  • 33 - Twelve months

    Samuel Marshak

    Do you know how many months there are in a year? - Twelve. And what are their names? — January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December. As soon as one month ends, another immediately begins. And…

  • 34 - The tale of the priest and his worker Balda

    Pushkin A.S.

    The tale of the stingy priest and resourceful worker Balda. Somehow Balda was hired for the service for three clicks on the forehead of the priest. When the time of reckoning was approaching, the priest decided to give Balda an impossible task in order to get rid of him. But Balda…

  • 35 - Little Humpbacked Horse

    Ershov P.

    An old man lived in a village and had three sons. They grew wheat and sold it in the market. But then someone got into the habit of trampling wheat in the field at night ... Table of contents: ♦ Part one. Starting…

  • 36 - Alice in Wonderland

    Carroll L.

    A captivating story about a girl Alice, who met a talking White Rabbit and ended up in amazing worlds where she met very unusual characters ... Chapter 1. Down the rabbit hole Alice got bored of sitting with his sister on the shore…

  • 37 - The Little Prince

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    A fairy tale about how a pilot, who remained a child at heart, met the Little Prince in the desert, who arrived from another planet.

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