The UK’s favourite bedtime stories for children

With today being World Book Day, it seems very fitting to share the most amazing campaign from Happy Beds to celebrate bedtime books. They have conducted a huge piece of research to find out what is the Internet’s favourite bedtime book?

My children adore reading, and as a family, over fourteen years, we have been through a huge long list of books together. Whilst the children certainly have their favourites, I absolutely do too and its always a lovely moment when my favourites become their favourites, as we can revisit my childhood together!

Happy Beds collated 26 online lists of Best Bedtime Books from national newspapers (The Guardian, The Telegraph), parenting sites and forums (, Mother and Baby, Reddit), book specialists (Book Trust, Love Reading 4 Kids) and parenting bloggers (The Ordinary Lovely, Susan K Mann).

The results were interesting, and yet actually, given my children’s own preferences, not surprising! I love that Julia Donaldson featured fifteen times in the lists, supporting mine, and the children’s, belief that she really is one of the true literary greats in children’s fiction. I also loved that more than half (58%) of the books featured animal characters, again something that my own children absolutely adore in a good book.

Our personal favourite The Very Hungry Caterpillar came in at number 8 which was lovely to see. It’s a book I enjoyed very much as a child and still do, all of these years later as an adult.

In first place, and really rather lovely given it was first published in 1947, was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I love that only two of the top ten were published in the 21st century, reinforcing my belief that you can’t beat an old book.



You can find the full list of books here and I’m sure you will find some of your favourites!

Rank Author Gender Illustrator Book Title Publisher Year
1 Margaret Wise Brown Female Clement Hurd Goodnight Moon Harper Collins 1947
2 Maurice Sendak Male Maurice Sendak Where the Wild Things Are Harper Collins 1963
3 Julia Donaldson Female Axel Scheffler The Gruffalo Macmillan 1999
4 Sam McBratney Both Anita Jeram Guess How Much I Love You Walker Books 1994
5 Sandra Boynton Female Sandra Boynton The Going to Bed Book Simon & Schuster 1982
6 Eric Carle Male Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar Hamish Hamilton 1969
7 J.K. Rowling Female Thomas Taylor Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Bloomsbury 1997
8 Karma Wilson Female Jane Chapman Bear Snores On Simon & Schuster 2001
9 Sherri Duskey Rinker Female Tom Lichtenheld Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Chronicle Books 2011
10 Mem Fox Female Jane Dyer Time For Bed Houghton Mifflin 1993

What was your favourite bedtime story?


** This is a collaborative post with Happy Beds **



  1. March 1, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    I was really pleased to see some absolutely classics on this list. How cute do your little ones look in their costumes as well?! Hungry Caterpillar has to be a fave!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 12:59 pm

      Thank you! They are super cute aren’t they?! xx

  2. March 2, 2018 / 8:54 am

    We love Julia Donaldson in this house. My little ones favourite is Rabbits Nap at the moment.

    Those costumes are so cute!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 12:43 pm

      Thank you Debbie! I love Julia Donaldson too! xx

  3. March 2, 2018 / 11:43 am

    How cute are your little ones! Currently we are working out way through Thomas the Tank books!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 12:40 pm

      Ahh my youngest loves Thomas too! xx

  4. March 2, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    We love the Very Hungry Caterpillar too and it has been my favourite since childhood although my daughter absolutely loves anything by Julia Donaldson too. Top list! xx

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      Mine too Talya, you can’t beat those illustratations! xx

  5. March 2, 2018 / 12:37 pm

    Some lovely books on that list and some I have never actually seen before {which I must look out for!} x

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      It’s a great list isn’t it! Some of my favourites are on there! xx

  6. March 2, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    I used to love the hungry caterpillar when I was younger so I love the costumes. It’s nice that Harry Potter is also on the list x

  7. March 2, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    Love love LOVE that some classics from my childhood are still featuring – just goes to show that a good story is utterly timeless!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN x

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Yes I loved that too, a good book never grows old! xx

  8. March 2, 2018 / 2:34 pm

    My 20 month old is a regular bookworm. I am now going to have a new tab on my blog just for kids books!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Oh that sounds so exciting! I’ll check it out! xx

  9. March 2, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    Oh how adorable, perfect timing for world book day! I have loved seeing some of the outfits, how cute do they look!
    The Gruffalo is constantly being read in our house, i am not suprised it is high up the list!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      Yes mine love it too, I think I know it off by heart now! xx

  10. March 2, 2018 / 3:59 pm

    I agree Julia Donaldson books deserve to be in the list multiple times, I’ve never read a bad book by her. We love them. We too are fans of the hungry caterpillar x

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Yes I agree, she just excels herself with every new book! xx

  11. March 2, 2018 / 4:20 pm

    We love Hungry Caterpillar and the Julia Donaldson books are our favourites – Jake and the Flum Flum Tree is one we read over and over!

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Her books are amazing aren’t they? The illustrations are always fantastic too! xx

  12. March 2, 2018 / 4:48 pm

    This is a great list, i read for my local library, currently reading Gruffalo.
    Thanks for adding a lot extra to the list.

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      We love The Gruffalo too, it never grows old! xx

  13. March 2, 2018 / 6:18 pm

    HOW CAN THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR BE AT 6!! I love that story, great to see it’s still going strong lol

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Haha I know! We should protest!! xx

  14. March 2, 2018 / 8:34 pm

    Your pics have made me smile! 🙂 Awesome kids! My son’s number one story is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but we read most stories from the list.

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 9:58 pm

      My eldest loved Harry Potter, the youngest three haven’t read them yet. xx

  15. March 2, 2018 / 8:40 pm

    Ah I love the hungry caterpillar too! What a great selection of books x

    • Laura Dove
      March 2, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Me too, it’s my favourite for sure! xx

  16. March 2, 2018 / 10:00 pm

    I love that Julia Donaldson features so much. She is such a true great! Their costumes are so adorable. 😀 My favourite book out of the list is definitely Harry Potter.

  17. March 2, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    The very hungry caterpillar was my favorite book when I was a child, I would ask my parents to read it to me every night. I can’t wait until I can read it to my kids as well!

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      Me too! It’s lovely that it’s still so popular! xx

  18. March 2, 2018 / 10:26 pm

    Those hungry caterpillar costumes are amazing – I’m desperate for one for H! This list is great, glad to see that some of the ones I used to love as a kiddo are still on there!

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      They are from Sainsburys, fab aren’t they? I love that the oldest books are still the most popular! xx

  19. March 2, 2018 / 11:11 pm

    I cannot wait until I become a mother. Reading with children is a beautiful thing that I hope to experience

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:04 pm

      Yes, it’s always lovely to share a book together. xx

  20. March 3, 2018 / 12:55 am

    I don’t have any children, so I can’t really say what my favorite bedtime story is. However, I do enjoy reading in bed at night – a good romance or mystery helps bring on interesting dreams.

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:03 pm

      I used to love reading in bed too but my husband can’t sleep with the light on so now I never get the time! xx

  21. March 3, 2018 / 2:23 am

    My eldest is a book worm and we bought the Hungry Caterpillar for her when she was 2 years old. We have it till now. 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:02 pm

      Ahh us too, I still have a copy from when I was a child! xx

  22. Ivie
    March 3, 2018 / 3:19 am

    The costumes are so cute , love the book list

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 12:02 pm

      Thank you! They love dressing as their favourite character! xx

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 11:59 am

      Yes here too. Our youngest is a big fan! xx

  23. March 3, 2018 / 7:50 am

    Where the wild things are was my absolute favourite, not seen it in years to be honest but I remember reading it.

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 11:59 am

      Yes! Loved that one too, we still have the original copy! xx

  24. March 3, 2018 / 10:08 am

    Our girls are big fans of Julia Donaldson so the gruffalo is a favourite but my all time favourite is guess how much I love you 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 11:58 am

      Oh I love that one too Kira! It always makes me quite emotional! xx

  25. March 3, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    oh my god I can’t even! HOW CUTE IS THIS !!!! They look adorable!

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 1:28 pm

      hehe thank you Lucie! xx

  26. March 3, 2018 / 1:45 pm

    I love so many of these books. I worked at a nursery a few years ago and basically ended up memorizing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Hungry Caterpillar. The kids absolutely loved both and got so excited when we read them!

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 2:02 pm

      Haha yes! I have memorised a lot of our books too! xx

  27. Laurence
    March 3, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    Wow, you’ve got a list of books. I’ve never experienced story telling. I’m just amazed how children love this. Well I will go for J.K Rowling, ’cause I really love Harry Potter 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 2:01 pm

      I’ve read just about every children’s book I can think of but never Harry Potter funnily enough! I think I’m missing out! xx

  28. March 3, 2018 / 2:55 pm

    The very hungry caterpillar is without a doubt our favourite bedtime story, we have read it so often the children know all the words now. xx

    • Laura Dove
      March 3, 2018 / 3:39 pm

      Yes us too! The girls love to talk along with it! xx

  29. March 3, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Aww this is fab! We love all the Julia Donaldson books too (every single one is a classic!) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar! I have to admit though, I’ve never read Goodnight Moon and I am REALLY not a fan of Where The Wild Things Are. I think it’s really sad and a bit scary!

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:43 pm

      My children are scared of Where the wild things are!! xx

  30. March 3, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    I love this, Julia Donaldson should definitely be in there. There really is nothing quite like a good bedtime story x

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:42 pm

      I totally agree, she is an absolute genius! xx

  31. Fatima
    March 4, 2018 / 3:47 am

    Harry Potter always reminds me if my school dsys when it gained extremely popular. Loved reading it then and would love to read it to my son one day.

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:37 pm

      I haven’t read Harry Potter, or seen the movies! My husband loves it but I’ve just never got round to it – must change that! xx

  32. March 4, 2018 / 9:11 am

    The gruffalo was my absolute favourite story as a child – loving the fact there’s some oldies in there too. Books really stand the test of time

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:36 pm

      Yes me too! You can’t beat a classic! xx

  33. March 4, 2018 / 9:41 am

    The Hungry Caterpillar was one of the first stories that i read to my daughter as a baby. I got the darling finger puppet book from a friend at my baby shower. Leanora is now nearly 4 and still loves it.

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:36 pm

      Ahh that’s so sweet! Mine had the buggy books as babies and love it even more now too! xx

  34. March 4, 2018 / 2:41 pm

    Some classics on this list – i used to love Meg and Mog when I was little

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Oh me too! I remember dressing as one for a book day we did back in the 80s! xx

  35. March 4, 2018 / 3:02 pm

    when I’ll have kids I’ll love to read them goodnight stories and since I want them to grow up bilingual I think I’ll choose some English traditional story!

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 4:29 pm

      Oh what a great idea! These are all great reads! x

  36. March 4, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    Our favourite bedtime story just has to be ‘Peace at Last’. It was my favourite as a child, and my kids love it too. You really can’t beat a classic!

    Louise x

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 10:33 pm

      Oh I loved that one too Louise! xx

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 10:32 pm

      Big fan of those two, they are classics! xx

  37. March 4, 2018 / 8:56 pm

    It’s so interesting that Harry Potter finds its place at number seven here. I love the series but honestly I wouldn’t have thought of it for this list. Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things are certainly belong there. And your kids adorable in that caterpillar costume.

    • Laura Dove
      March 4, 2018 / 10:30 pm

      Thanks David! Yes Harry Potter isn’t something I would think of as a traditional bedtime story either! xx

  38. March 5, 2018 / 9:41 am

    So many good books for the kids! This is how you get them interested in books, by picking stories that will spark their excitement in reading. I’d love to pick some of these up for my grandchildren!

    • Laura Dove
      March 5, 2018 / 1:56 pm

      Yes I agree, I love seeing how excited they get over new stories, I was just the same at that age! xx

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