The best bedtime stories to pack for kids

Collaborative post*

It was a standing joke on family holidays that half my case would be dedicated to books. I’ve always loved reading, and as a fast reader who liked to make the most of free time on holiday, I could get through a dozen in a fortnight away.

Books piled up on a vintage suitcase - my best bedtime stories to pack for kids

Baggage handlers the world over probably cheered when the e-reader was invented and I could pack my dozen (or dozens) of books onto one Kindle. And then my daughter came along: a miniature bookworm who loved her bedtime stories, and has turned into an avid reader herself.

From board books to chapter books, reading the German version of Room on the Broom in a Paris AirBNB, eyeing up Portuguese titles and the English selection in Livraria Lello a few weeks ago, we’ve themed days out around books, we’ve been inspired by stories and I’ve rediscovered many of my own favourite childhood tales.

Because there’s nothing like a bedtime story, at home or – perhaps even more so – on our travels. I still rarely go straight to sleep without reading a few pages, and the time snuggled up with Minnie and a book at the end of the day has always been one of my favourite moments.

So when online bed and mattress store Happy Beds, who have compiled their own list of top 10 bedtime stories from 399 different titles, asked me and Minnie to pick our own top 10, the biggest problem was narrowing it down. How to Lose a Lemur, Guess How Much I Love You, Each Peach Pear Plum and That Pesky Rat narrowly missed out…

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
So simple, so funny, I loved it as a child, my daughter loves it still. And I get a surprising amount of pleasure from taking a deep breath and reciting the array of foods the caterpillar eats on Saturday in one go.

2. Room on the Broom/The Snail and the Whale – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Frankly, I could have done a top 10 of books by this duo alone – at one stage, I could recite The Gruffalo from memory, I’d read it so many times. Minnie and I couldn’t agree on one favourite though: she wanted The Snail and the Whale (whose itchy foot I sympathise with) but Room on the Broom wins for me – and whoosh we’re on to the next one.

3. Mr Tickle (The Mr Men) – Roger Hargreaves
With his extraordinarily long arms, his love of tickling and his air of orange mischief, Mr Tickle is standing in for all the array of Mr Men and Little Misses we’ve read.

Collage of book covers including Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Eric Carle, Julia Donaldson and more - my best bedtime stories to pack for kids

4. I want my hat back – Jon Klassen
When the cutesiness of some children’s books starts to cloy, this story of a bear looking for his missing hat has just enough of a dark twist to amuse me. And go straight over Minnie’s head for months…

5. A Bear called Paddington – Michael Bond
The most lovable immigrant from Darkest Peru, we still promise to look after this bear.

6. The Enchanted Wood – Enid Blyton
The first ‘long’ story I read to my daughter, travelling up the Faraway Tree with her to magical lands galore.

7. The book with no pictures – BJ Novak
If any kids think a book with no pictures must be boring, this book – which forces the adult reading to be entirely ridiculous – will prove that’s not the case. May induce extreme giggling.

8. Library Lion – Michelle Knudsen
One day, a lion walks into the library – this wonderful story brings a lump to my throat each time I read it, with its themes of friendship and knowing just when rules should be broken.

9. Fantastic Mr Fox/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Another hotly contested inclusion: there was no question Dahl needed to be on this list… but which one? Minnie voted for the magical chocolate world of Willy Wonka, I finally plumped for the cunning fox who prevails against the most gruesomely disgusting trio of farmers ever created.

10. The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy
Mildred Hubble is a terrible witch… but Miss Cackle’s Academy would be lost without her. All the best bits of boarding school stories with added kittens. (We’re working up to Harry Potter!)

What are your essential bedtime stories to pack?


My best bedtime stories to pack for kids - 10 classic and less well-known children's books for age five and under, our packing essentials for young readers, in collaboration with Happy Beds. #bedtimestories #booksforkids #packingessentials #mummytravels

Disclosure: compiled in association with Happy Beds*

Main image: Pixabay. Book covers courtesy of the retailer