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22 Best Bedtime Poems for Kids

It seems there’s a new mini-trend going on for parents to read their kids bedtime poems.

Maybe you’re trying to find new ways to mix up the bedtime routine and make good night easier, or maybe you just want a great way to expose your kids to some classic poems, but either way, I personally think that reading your kids bedtime poems is a magnificent idea.

From Robert Louis Stevenson to Edward Lear, classic and contemporary poems are a beautiful way to make memories and bless your children’s lives.

In the years to come, you’ll likely be surprised at the things they’ll remember.

Picking the Best Bedtime Poems for Your Kids

Some kids are perfect little angels at bedtime, while others are more like Godzilla meets the energizer bunny, so obviously the poetry you pick needs to reflect that.

For calmer children, longer bedtime poetry is likely alright. You might even be able to replace your bedtime story with a story poem (like The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, by Edward Lear).

Your more excitable children might need a bedtime story to help them to relax enough to even notice that you’re reading them a bedtime poem. I would stick with short, funny poems for them at first, and then maybe work up to your longer classic and contemporary poems later on.

To try and make picking out your goodnight poetry easier, I put the poems I collected into the following categories:

  • One-Minute Poems
  • Bedtime Poems for Babies
  • Bedtime Poems for ages 3 to 7
  • Bedtime Poems for Ages 8+
  • Funny Poems

I also recommend some collections of poems in the next section. I give feedback there on which ones fit with what age ranges and what kinds of poetry each collection contains.

Best Collections of Poems for the Bedtime Routine

Having a collection of poems can make a big difference if you’re having a hard time picking out good poetry for your kids.

It’s much simpler to just read straight through a book, rather than to try to pick out a new goodnight poem from the internet every day.

If you are planning on reading your kids poetry for long time, I would highly recommend you look at getting one of these collections of children’s poems.

Sing a Song of Popcorn – This collection of poems is a personal favorite of mine. It has tons of beautiful (though many lesser-known) children’s poems.

  • Recommended Age: 5 – 10
  • Poetry Types: Lots of short, some funny, some longer/more thoughtful poems

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children – I personally do not own this collection, but it has good reviews overall.

  • Recommended Age: 5 – 12 (some buyers state that kids 2+ like it too; it probably depends on your kid)
  • Poetry Types: Large variety (reviews say that there are plenty of humorous ones mixed in)

365 Bedtime Stories and Rhymes – If you are looking for only a one-minute poem to read each night, this is probably the right collection for you. I do not own this collection either, however it does have great reviews overall. There are a few minor complaints about the use of the original versions of some fairytales instead of our soaped-up new ones, but most buyers still state that this is the perfect collection for younger children. Several parents also recommended it for newborn reading. Most of it is poetry (which is great because you’re here to find bedtime poems for your kid).

  • Recommended Age: 2.5 – 6 (Though this would be my choice for reading to newborns as well)
  • Poetry Types: Variety, all short and some funny

Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein – This is one of the best collections of funny poems that has ever existed. Shel Silverstein knows how to help everyone to laugh. Some parents might want to supplement this book with some more thoughtful or refined poems (Shel Silverstein’s poems are ALL funny or quirky without exception), but other parents might solely choose to read this book because it suits them and their child. Either way, though, I would hands-down recommend this book to anyone looking to read their kids poetry as part of their bedtime routine. It is the perfect collection for entertaining children and making it a good night.

  • Recommended Age: 4 – 15
  • Poetry Types: Hilarious (long and short)

The Best Bedtime Poems for Your Kids

Now that you’ve gotten to look at some of the collections of poems, let me share some of those promised single poems with you.

Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot share the text for some of my favorite poems. Where possible, I provide links to external content with the text for those.

All of the poems with complete text on this page are (to the best of my knowledge) in the public domain.

If you would like a FREE document with the complete text for all of my selected public domain poems, sign up below and I will happily send you a link.

Bedtime Poems Compilation

One-Minute Poems

Caterpillar by Christina Rossetti

Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti

Dawn by Paul Laurence Dunbar

An angel, robed in spotless white,
Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night.
Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone.
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.

I Am Bound, I Am Bound, For A Distant Shore by Henry David Thoreau

I am bound, I am bound, for a distant shore,
By a lonely isle, by a far Azore,
There it is, there it is, the treasure I seek,
On the barren sands of a desolate creek.

Raindrops by Mrs. Minot Carter

Have you heard the raindrops 
     On a field of corn, 
Pattering ov’r the green leaves
      Dusty and forlorn?
Did you ever fancy 
      They were little feet 
Hurrying out with water 
      Thirsty ones to meet? 

Have you seen the raindrops 
       Falling on the lake?
How they flash and sparkle 
      Tiny splashes make. 
Did you ever fancy 
     They were diamonds rare 
Scattered by an aeroplane
      Sailing through the air? 

Bedtime Poems for Babies

Good Night By Jane And Ann Taylor

Little baby, lay your head
On your pretty cradle-bed;
Shut your eye-peeps, now the day
And the light are gone away;
All the clothes are tucked in tight;
Little baby dear, good night.

Yes, my darling, well I know
How the bitter wind doth blow;
And the winter’s snow and rain
Patter on the window-pane:
But they cannot come in here,
To my little baby dear.

For the window shutteth fast,
Till the stormy night is past;
And the curtains warm are spread
Round about her cradle-bed:
So till morning shineth bright
Little baby dear, good night!

Good-Night by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The lark is silent in his nest,
    The breeze is sighing in its flight,
Sleep, Love, and peaceful be thy rest.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

Sweet dreams attend thee in thy sleep,
    To soothe thy rest till morning’s light,
And angels round thee vigil keep.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

Sleep well, my love, on night’s dark breast,
    And ease thy soul with slumber bright;
Be joy but thine and I am blest.
    Good-night, my love, good-night, good-night.

The Drowsy World Dreams On by Walter Everette Hawkins

A flower bloomed out on a woodland hill,
A song rose up from the woodland rill;
But the floweret bloomed but to wither away,
And no man heard what the stream had to say,
For the drowsy world dreamed on.

Thro the frills of a curtain a moonbeam crept,
Till it fell on the crib where a nursling slept;
And a whisper and smile lit a wee dimpled face,
But none save the angels their beauty could trace,
For the drowsy world dreamed on.

A wee bird piped out mid the corn,
A rose bloomed out beneath the thorn;
But the scent of the rose and the birdling’s lay
On the winds of the morning were wafted away
While the drowsy world dreamed on.

And the drowsy old world’s growing gloomy and gray,
While the joys that are sweetest are passing away;
And the charms that inspire like the picture of dawn
Are but playthings of Time—they gleam and are gone,
While the drowsy world dreams on. 

Bedtime Poems for Ages 3 – 7

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
   The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,”
            Said Wynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!”
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
   As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea;
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
            And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
            And Nod.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
   What a beautiful Pussy you are,
            You are,
            You are!
   What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl,
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
            His nose,
            His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
            The moon,
            The moon,
   They danced by the light of the moon.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

At the Zoo by William Makepeace Thackeray

First I saw the white bear, then I saw the black;
Then I saw the camel with a hump upon his back;
Then I saw the grey wolf, with mutton in his maw;
Then I saw the wombat waddle in the straw;
Then I saw the elephant a-waving of his trunk;
Then I saw the monkeys—mercy, how unpleasantly they smelt!

Bedtime Poems for Ages 8+

Hope is the Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Bird sitting on branch

Disappointed by Paul Laurence Dunbar

An old man planted and dug and tended,
    Toiling in joy from dew to dew;
The sun was kind, and the rain befriended;
    Fine grew his orchard and fair to view.
Then he said: ‘I will quiet my thrifty fears,
For here is fruit for my failing years.’

But even then the storm-clouds gathered,
    Swallowing up the azure sky;
The sweeping winds into white foam lathered
    The placid breast of the bay, hard by;
Then the spirits that raged in the darkened air
Swept o’er his orchard and left it bare.

The old man stood in the rain, uncaring,
    Viewing the place the storm had swept;
And then with a cry from his soul despairing,
    He bowed him down to the earth and wept.
But a voice cried aloud from the driving rain;
“Arise, old man, and plant again!”

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
   Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
   And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
   The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
   And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
   The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
   He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
   Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
   He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
   And the mome raths outgrabe.

If— by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Dear March—Come in— by Emily Dickinson

Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare – how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame—

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Funny Poems

Snowball by Shel Silverstein

Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky

Sick by Shel Silverstein

A Tragic Story by William Makepeace Thackeray

There lived a sage in days of yore
And he a handsome pigtail wore;
But wondered much and sorrowed more
Because it hung behind him.

He mused upon this curious case,
And swore he’d change the pigtail’s place,
And have it hanging at his face,
Not dangling there behind him.

Says he, “The mystery I’ve found,—
I’ll turn me round,”—he turned him round;
But still it hung behind him.

Then round, and round, and out and in,
All day the puzzled sage did spin;
In vain—it mattered not a pin,—
The pigtail hung behind him.

And right, and left, and round about,
And up, and down, and in, and out,
He turned; but still the pigtail stout
Hung steadily behind him.

And though his efforts never slack,
And though he twist, and twirl, and tack,
Alas! still faithful to his back
The pigtail hangs behind him.

Concluding Thoughts on Bedtime Poems

I hope you liked those poems! I honestly wish that someone had suggested this idea to me earlier (when my Gem was a newborn and she wasn’t so wiggly and hard to read to, haha 🙂 )

Go ahead and pin or share this post so you don’t lose track of it. And if you’d like, grab the printable compilation I made for all of the public domain poems below.

Good luck to you! Feel free to share your favorite goodnight poems in the comments!

Bedtime Poems Compilation

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