Like a good film, meal or mattress, a brilliant bedtime book is a very personal thing.
Whether you’re a Mum or Dad that reads every night to your small children, or a grownup who still fondly recalls the books their parents shared with them, there’s no denying the power of a bedtime book.
So, to mark World Book Day 2020, we’re launching a campaign to celebrate bedtime books – those beautiful, slumbersome tomes that help us (and our little ones) journey serenely to the land of nod. We conducted a huge piece of research to find out once and for all, which was the ultimate bedtime book.
Read more World Book Day content:
How We Found the Best Bedtime Book
We collated 26 online lists of ‘Best Bedtime Books’ from national newspapers (The Guardian, The Telegraph), parenting sites and forums (Parents.com, Mother and Baby, Reddit), book specialists (Book Trust, Love Reading 4 Kids) and parenting bloggers (The Ordinary Lovely, Susan K Mann).
We took every book that featured in those lists and added them to one all-singing, all-dancing resource. There were 587 titles suggested, 399 of which were unique – while 321 different authors were mentioned on the list.
As we wanted to find the best singular book, any suggestion that was considered a ‘series’ was omitted from the list. So, for instance, some lists included The Harry Potter series which we had to remove. But (spoiler) fear not Hogwarts fans, Harry, Hermione and the gang still made an appearance…
A Few Statistics
Before we get to our glorious winner, we’re going to share a few stats:
- Of the 321 different authors, 50% were female, 46% were men and 4% were mixed couples.
- More than half (58%) of all books in the list featured animals. Furthermore, 18 of the top 20 had animals in.
- Julia Donaldson was the most-featured author, with 15 different books in the list, while her long-time illustrative collaborator, Axel Scheffler, was also featured 15 different times.
- 26 books had ‘bear' in the title. 22 featured ‘sleep’ in the title and 21 said 'goodnight'.
221 of the books in the list were published since 2000, 127 between 1950-2000 and 49 before 1950. This graph shows when the many books in our list were published.
Surprisingly, while the majority of books in the list were published in the 21st century, just two of the top ten were published since the turn of the millennium – proving that a true bedtime favourite can take decades to tuck itself into the national psyche.
And the Winner is…
“In the great green room there was a telephone, and a red balloon, and a picture of the cow, jumping over the moon….”
With 16 unique inclusions – 6 more than its next closest competitor – the clear winner was Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.
The 1947 children’s picture book, which was illustrated by Clement Hurd and published by Two Hoots, a subsidiary of Pan Macmillan, is officially the internet’s favourite book. In Goodnight Moon, a rabbit is found saying “goodnight” to everything around it – from the pictures on the wall to the mice which live under the clock and, finally, to “noises…everywhere” .
You can watch it here, narrated by Susan Sarandon.
A spokesperson for Two Hoots said:
“Two Hoots, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Books, and the publisher of Goodnight Moon are delighted that this classic book, written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, remains the favourite bedtime book for children.
“Over 70 years old, the magical artwork and that hypnotically soothing text still lull children across the world to sleep to this day. We couldn't be more proud to be the UK home of this sleepy classic.”
The top ten
Other notable entries in the top 10 were Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
|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||Male||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|
You can see the full list here.