Our top 10 bedtime stories
From the antics of Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood to the fairy tales and folklore of the deep, dark forest, woodlands have always been a rich source of inspiration for children’s stories.
Here, we’ve chosen a few that will spark the imagination, and fill kids with curiosity about the natural environment – perfect to read before their next trip to the woods.
Best bedtime stories age 0-2
Peek a Boo Forest (Lamaze)
Babies will love looking for the hidden animals in this colourful book, with lots of touchy-feely textures and crinkly pages. It’s made of washable, soft fabric so it’s very chewable too!
Peep inside the garden by Anna Milbourne (Usborne)
Peek through the holes and lift the flaps to spot bees buzzing under the flowers, a toad sleeping in a log pile, and baby newts hiding under a lily pad. It’s a great way to introduce babies and toddlers to the creatures they’ll encounter outside.
The Dawn Chorus by Suzanne Barton (Bloomsbury)
Baby bird, Peep, is upset because he can’t join in with the dawn chorus. But then he discovers it’s because he’s a nightingale, and is destined to sing one of the most melodic songs of all. This beautifully illustrated book will fascinate toddlers as well as slightly older children, and help them learn about the birds of the forest.
Best bedtime stories for ages 3-5
Spot’s Walk in the Woods by Eric Hill (Puffin)
Spot, everyone’s favourite picture book puppy, goes exploring in the woods with his classmates. Kids lift the picture flaps to find the words underneath – perfect for beginner readers.
Autumn Story (Brambly Hedge) by Jill Barklem (Collins)
The mice of Brambly Hedge are busy gathering in the harvest before winter sets in. But little Primrose wanders off and gets lost in the Chestnut Woods. As darkness begins to fall, will she manage to find her way home? This book’s exquisitely detailed illustrations will have kids entranced.
Moon Forest by Patricia MacCarthy (Frances Lincoln)
It’s midnight in the forest and the hare, the badger, the owl and the bats are all out and about. Meanwhile, the fox must find food for its cubs. The soft colours and lyrical text convey the beauty of the moonlit forest, but the book also teaches kids about the animals’ quest for survival.
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (Puffin)
The winds carry a tiny seed on a long journey before it finally grows into a tall flower. Then the cycle begins all over again. It’s a lovely way for young children to learn about the life cycle of plants.
Best bedtime stories age 6+
The Minpins by Roald Dahl (Puffin)
Billy’s mother warns him never to go into the forest because a fierce monster lives there. Of course, he goes anyway! Billy is chased by the Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher, and makes friends with the Minpins, tiny creatures who live in the trees. Together they plot to rid the forest of the fearsome monster. This captivating story will have kids begging to go to the woods to see if they can spot some Minpins too!
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann (Egmont)
When humans destroy their woodland habitat, a group of animals make an oath to help each other on the long journey to their new home in a nature reserve. On the way, they encounter many adventures and dangers – a motorway crossing, a fire and a fox hunt – and learn a lot about tolerance and friendship.
The Faraway Tree series: The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of the Faraway Tree, and Up the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (Egmont)
In these perennial favourites, three children come across an enormous tree with branches reaching into the clouds. As they climb higher and higher, they encounter strange creatures and magical lands, including the Land of Birthdays and the Land of Do-as-You-Please. Readers will be hunting for the Faraway Tree on their next woodland adventure!
Have we missed any? We’d love to hear your family favourites in the comments below.