We love books and we believe that with good bedtime stories children gain amazing opportunities. Read our article about the impact of sharing a bedtime story and learn how each book makes a difference.
Each month we present a list of books we read to our boys because we think they can be helpful for other children as well. Alternatively, you could opt for free short bedtime stories sent straight to your inbox by Story Tyke, a resource we also use.
This month we chose 7 amazing books to teach children about kindness, helping the environment, making friends, but also books that open up magical new worlds for them. Look inside the books in the video below.
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by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
This is another one of Julia Donaldson’s books that we love. We wrote about The Smeds and the Smoos, The Snail and the Whale, Zog, Stick Man, The Gruffalo, because we think they are amazing bedtime stories with valuable lessons for children.
The Smartest giant in town is the story of a giant living among normal people. One day the giant decides that he wants to change his clothes and appearance so he goes shopping.
Luckily, he finds a shop selling ginormous clothes, so he buys smart pants, a smart shirt, a smart pair of shoes, all in the hope of looking smart.
Our giant is however very kind and generous and helps every animal he meets on his way. He gives his tie to a giraffe to wear as a scarf, his shirt to a goat to use as a sail, and so on until he realised he was cold.
He gives all of his clothes away and now goes back to buy new ones.
His kindness is rewarded in the end when all the animals he helped come to bring him an enormous crown and a humongous thank you card.
In the eyes of the animals he becomes the kindest giant in town!
What you learn from The Smartest Giant in Town
Children learn a valuable lesson of empathy and kindness from this story. They learn to help people in need through the giant’s powerful gesture of giving away his clothes without thinking of himself.
Children also come to realise that good deeds don’t go unnoticed, they are recognised and valued because of the impact they have on people.
Another gain of reading this book is exposure to new vocabulary, with words such as ‘scruffiest’, ‘wound’, ‘strode’, ‘bleating’, ‘scramble’.
Overall the vocabulary is accessible, but stills offers challenges with such words that can help both native and non-native speakers.
2. Clean up!
by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola
This amazing bedtime story teaches children about the importance of looking after the environment. A little girl, Rocket, goes to visit her grandparents who own an Animal Sanctuary. They look after wild animals and release them back into the wild. They teach Rocket about the impact plastic has on animals and the environment.
So the little girl wants to help. She tells all the people around her about the dangers animals face and the consequences of throwing rubbish in the sea.Rocket organises a clean-up and lots of people join her.
Together with Grampy, Rocket helps a little turle and releases it back into the ocean. She is happy for doing it and is encourged by her grandpa to continue to do it as one day she will change the world.
Grab 12 free reading comprehension and phonics worksheets seen below.
What you learn from Clean Up!
It is important that we teach children from an early age about the problems our world is facing. They need to be present and active in the world around them and taught that they can be a part of the solution.
Clean Up is a book for children who can help animals, save the environment, encourage people to help out and make a difference. It is a wonderful book about the power of action and teaches children that they can be the catalyst of change.
by Poppy Bishop and Laura Brenda
We chose this book because I was inspired by my son’s interest in Alice in Wonderland. He was fascinated by the pictures, not the story, because of the possibilities of interpretation and the absurdity of situations.
Alice’s Wonderland Tea Party preserves its original absurd and exaggerated style, but makes it more child-friendly. My son is 3 and he enjoyed it immensely. In the book children can meet Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts etc.
They are all invited to a tea party, all except the Queen of Hearts of course. Each guest brings something silly, fun or unexpected. They eat upside down cakes, clock cakes, cupcakes that make parts of the body smaller or bigger, invisible food or pepper cakes.
The illustrations are amazing and very engaging, there are plenty of elements to discover and lots of invitations for discussion. In the series, there are other interesting books we plan to read next, such as Where Happiness Lives, The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth and Nibbles, The Dinosaur Guide.
What you learn from Alice’s Wonderland Tea Party
I think this bedtime story is a very powerful tool to encourage creativity and exploration. Children will discover a world of absurdities and possibilities, and can challenge things as we know them.
Thinking outside the box and reimagining things, exploring new possibilities are essential skills for the future.
The book can also be used in pretend play, during children’s own tea parties, or as an introduction to the real story, the abridged Alice in Wonderland version.
by Anne Booth and Amy Proud
I chose this bedtime story because my 3-year-old is starting nursery now. The book offers a great example of how to make friends as a toddler, which is harder than you would imagine.
During the lockdown, we son had little chances of making new friends. And this is a skill that needs lots of practice.
I Wand A Friend is the story of a little boy named Arthur who doesn’t know how to make friends. He has different plans of trapping a friend: running to catch one, making a trap, creating a ginormous net, but none of them work.
All the children run scared. He feels very bad and starts crying. But one of the girls offers to be his friend and cheers him up. They play together and have lots of fun.
What you learn from I Want A Friend
Children get the chance to test out different possibilities of how to make new friends. They learn that forcing someone to be your friend is not an option. They can learn that making friends is as simple as inviting someone to play with you.
The end of the book offers children the chance to help Martha, another child who is trying to make friends. The book invites readers to practice what they’ve read and offer advice to Martha.
Another important thing children can learn from I Want A Friend is predicting consequences for actions. The book offers many opportunities for discussion and parents can help children with open-ended questions and questions that invite reasoning.
by Rob Biddulph
Sid Gibbons is a little boy who keeps doing naughty things and blames his imaginary friend for his actions. The story changes completely when Kevin, Sid’s make-believe friend, comes to life.
Sid is offered the chance to travel to Kevin’s world, a magical world of jelly leaves, golden sky, huge flowers and star-shaped clouds.
In Kevin’s world, Sid is the invisible one. He starts being cheeky and Kevin gets the blame. This is the moment when our little fellow realises that his actions hurt other people .
This makes him fix all the wrongs and confesses the truth to his mother.
‘Suddenly Kevin did not feel so clever
He actually felt like the least best-friend ever.
He went up the stairs full of sorrow and guilt
To where he found Kevin tucked under his quilt.
Kevin Sid whispered, Oh, Kevin, stop crying.
I’ve been really selfish, there is no denying.’
What you Learn from Kevin- The Make Believe Friend
This book offers chances to learn good and bad behaviour, taking responsibility for own actions and being truthful. Being a rhyming book, it also helps children learn chunks of language and new words.
The drawings are brilliant, child-friendly and amusing, with charismatic characters and magical worlds. You can use the book to help children reflect on what the boy is doing, why, predict consequences and offer advice.
by Jeanne Willis and Stephanie Laberis
I loved this book the moment I saw its cover. Frockcodile is a crocodile dressed in a frock, with beautiful high-heels and long pearls. The boy crocodile discovers that he feels better in girls’ clothes.
‘I just feel happier in heels, and don’t you LOVE this dress?
I want to tell my father, but I don’t think I am ready’.
Some mean animals however see him and threaten to tell his father. So Cliff, the little crocodile, feels the need to lie. He tells the animals he is preparing for a show, so he is now forced to put on an impromptu summer show.
Cliff’s dad watches the show and is not disappointed as Cliff suspected, but quite the contrary. Dad confesses that the pearls were his and tells Cliff he is very proud of him.
What you learn from Frockodile
This is the first book of its kind I had a chance to read to my son and I am very happy I did. It teaches children complex concepts of gender identity and self-image. At the same time the book offers children a chance to learn that there is no shame in being undecided about who you are.
And that we should always be truthful about how we feel and trust our choices. It gives parents plenty of opportunities to extend children’s understanding of the world around them and invites discussions of self.
7. Space Dog
by Mini Grey
This book bears resemblance to a comic book and tells a story of friendship between three sworn enemies. Space Dog, Astro Cat and Moustronaut travel through space and face different challenges.
Space Dog helps the people of Bottleopolis, makes contact with a Spaghetti Entity and saves the situation on FryUp 42. But he also helps Astro Cat, one of his sworn enemies. They even discover to have lots in common.
Together, Space Dog and Astro Cat save Moustronaut from being fried over a chasm of bubbling fondue. The three of them become sworn friends and travel the whole universe together.
‘In the vast deeps of space a small ship is zooming. Adventures could be on the horizon, or even just around the corner. But for now, Space Dog, Astro Cat and Moustronaut are playing Dogopoly before dinner.
Nobody is completely sure about the exact rules for Dogopoly..but it does not seem to matter.’
What you can learn from Space Dog
This is my son’s first encounter with a comic book and he loved it. The illustrations are absolutely amazing, and the encounters with the unknown are vividly brought to life in a myriad of ways.
This bedtime story will surely keep children engaged so make sure you offer plenty of time for exploration.
The story teaches children about space, friendship and kindness. It also helps them understand the importance of having friends as Space Dog progresses from being sad and alone to happily exploring the unknown with his friends.
With each book we read to children, we open up a whole universe of possibilities and exploration. Use each bedtime story as an opportunity to encourage children to think, reason and engage with the world. And have fun with funny bedtime stories!
Each of our bedtime story articles aims to help parents understand the importance of reading, the value of sharing a bedtime story and the power of imagination in children’s lives.
We share all of our ideas on our Facebook group Learning Activities for Kids.
Hi. I am Monica, an experienced ESL teacher and early years student, mother to a preschooler and passionate reader.