The bedtime stories we read as children often stay with us right the way through adulthood. Many parents even go on to read them to their own children, introducing the charming tales to a whole new generation.
With such emotional attachment and power behind them, it’s no surprise that there is much debate about which story should be given the title of ‘top bedtime story’. In fact, the subject sparked quite a debate here at Betta Living HQ! There was only one way to settle the discussion – a survey to find out, once and for all, what the children of the UK considered to be their favourite bedtime stories. Here are the results!
10. Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
In at number ten is Julia Donaldson’s lesser-known, but no less charming tale about a good-natured witch and her cat. As the pair fly over hill, dale, forest and river, they meet a group of animals who each hitch a ride on the witch’s broom. But what will happen when the broom snaps under all of that weight? You’ll have to read a copy to your little ones to find out!
9. The Cat in the Hat – Dr Seuss
Madness, havoc and mayhem abound when the cat in the hat pays a visit to Sally and her brother. He rhymes rings around the two children and will fill your little ones’ heads with passages they will love reciting for years to come.
8. The Tiger who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
Over thirty years after it was originally published, The Tiger who came to Tea is still captivating bedtime audiences. With such an exotic guest, it’s no surprise! This big, greedy tiger is quick to devour everything in sight, affording plenty of opportunity for parents to feign shock and surprise while reading, and for children to feel it!
7. What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge
To this day, children adore this bedtime story and its unruly heroine, placing it comfortably at number seven in our survey. Far from the perfect protagonist of many children’s books, Katie – even after her ‘coming of age’ – still has her flaws, which makes her much more accessible to our little ones.
6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J. K. Rowling
No bedtime story roundup would be complete without boy wizard, Harry Potter. Orphaned and shunned by his adoptive muggle relatives, Harry struggles to fit in until the world of magic, where he really belongs, is finally revealed to him. Chock full of fantastical creatures, exciting adventures and realistic friendships, it’s no wonder that both adults and children fell so in love with The Philosopher’s Stone.
5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – a simple tale about a caterpillar’s journey to butterfly-hood – is a prime example of why children’s books needn’t be full of deep morals and complex worlds. It helps that the picture book is so interactive, teaching children about the butterfly lifecycle with help from holes ‘eaten’ through the pages, and beautifully textured illustrations.
4. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
There is a sinister truth to Charlotte’s Web – Wilbur the pig is destined for the dinner plate. It’s through this impending disaster, however, that this runt of the litter proves that you don’t have to be born into greatness to achieve it. With help from his farmyard friends – most notably the spider, Charlotte – Wilbur dodges his intended fate and goes on to become the most famous pig to have lived.
3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis
Fantasy worlds of magic and adventure are incredibly endearing to children, so it’s no surprise that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ranked so highly in our survey. The book tells the story of four children who discover that the wardrobe in their spare bedroom isn’t all that it seems, and actually leads to the mystical world of Narnia. Despite their tender age, the children save the kingdom, and are even crowned kings and queens!
2. The BFG – Roald Dahl
The ‘BFG’ acronym itself is reason enough for this to be such a beloved children’s bedtime story. It stands for Big Friendly Giant, and belongs to a gentle giant who, indeed, has no desire to eat people. He befriends an orphan named Sophie, and takes her into his world where he detonates nightmares and blows good dreams into the bedrooms of children. It’s no wonder he’s such a well-loved character.
1. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler
Despite being one of the newest bedtime stories in our roundup, The Gruffalo has comfortably secured the number one spot. It has all the elements of a great bedtime story – a fantastical monster, talking animals, a cunning protagonist and pages full of easy-to-remember rhymes that children can join in with. It just goes to show that the best bedtime stories aren’t always the most complicated – they just need to written with a pen full of fun.
Did your little one’s favourite bedtime story make it into our roundup? If not, we’d love to know what it is! Why not leave a comment below or tweet us at @bettaliving?
Photo by Daniel X O.Neil CC BY