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Best 5 Minute Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages (Online & Hardcopies)

When it comes to raising kids, the importance of a good bedtime routine should never be underestimated. They don’t have to be overly long–for babies even 5 minute bedtime stories will usually do the trick!

After all, getting your children into a solid bedtime routine from a young age is essential for good mood, health, and development (and not to mention some down time for tired parents!)

If you need some inspiration for short bedtime stories, we have put together a list of the best five-minute bedtime stories for kids.

The Importance of Bedtime Stories

5 Minute Bedtime Stories

Reading bedtime stories to children has several benefits. A good story can help your child drift off to sleep but being read to regularly has many long-term benefits for your child too.

Improves language skills

The more you read to your child, the better their language skills become. Reading books exposes your child to an expansive vocabulary of words. This helps them to improve their own speech in the process.

Improves listening skills

Listening to a story requires your child to use their listening skills and focus their attention on what you are saying. Storytime can teach skills that will help them to settle in more smoothly when they begin kindergarten.

Encourages their imagination

Hearing stories of fantasy and adventure can all ignite your child’s imagination. Stories for kids can develop your child’s creativity and whatever the story is about, they will be working hard to make sense of the words you are saying.

Improves reading skills

As children grow, they will develop their own reading and literacy skills. However, the benefits of being read to, do not vanish as soon as your child can read on their own. Whether you are reading famous children’s stories, short stories, or longer chapter books, you can help your child’s reading skills by just exposing them to a large variety of vocabulary and giving them the opportunity to hear more complicated words read aloud.

Helps to develop empathy

Characters in stories give children the opportunity to develop empathy and to learn words for complicated feelings they may be experiencing themselves. Stories may be set in fictional worlds, and the characters may be princesses or animals, but the events and feelings they experience in the story can help children to learn to relate and empathize in real life.

Free 5 Minute Bedtime Stories

We understand that life is busy and it is not always possible to read long stories or more than one book each night. To help you save time, we have put together a list of free bedtime stories.

These online story books should only take around five minutes to read and there are stories for kids of all ages. Many of these bedtime stories can be read aloud or there may be an audio recording available, perfect for those nights where there just isn’t enough time for you to read.

Classic Fairy Tales and Bedtime Stories for Children

The Ugly Duckling

A famous children’s story that has an easy-to-follow plot but delivers a strong message too. Originally written by Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson in 1843, The Ugly Duckling is a story about a duckling that hatches from his egg, looking nothing like his brothers and sisters. The tale shares the duckling’s difficult journey to find acceptance, before finally realizing that he is in fact a swan and not a duck at all.

This is a story showing children the importance of kindness and not judging others by their appearance. A free online retelling of this story can be found on Stories To Grow By.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

This short bedtime story has been around for well over a century. The story of Goldilocks was first published in a collection of stories by Robert Southey in 1837, it was then called The Story Of The Three Bears. Goldilocks is a fun bedtime story about a mischievous blonde-haired girl who breaks into a Bear family’s cottage while they are out on a walk in the woods, waiting for their porridge to cool.

Goldilocks is an exciting bedtime story for children, a free audio and written version of it can be listened to or read on Story Berries.


A classic fairy tale about a young girl who is forced to do all the housework for her evil stepmother and her two ugly stepsisters. This is a tale about magic, a lost glass slipper, and falling in love. This is now a well-known Disney Princess, who is loved by little kids all over the world.

For several short 5-minute bedtime stories, including Cinderella, visit the Bedtime Short Stories website.

Snow White

This is another story from the Brothers Grimm, it was originally published in a collection in 1812. This is a story about a young girl and an evil queen. The queen asks her enchanted mirror ‘who is the most beautiful woman in the world?’ When the mirror replies Snow White, the Queen orders her to be killed. This story may be quite sinister at times but the seven dwarfs bring fun and humor to the tale and this is a bedtime story that young children have loved listening to for centuries.

A short retelling of the Disney version of Snow White is available to read on Short Stories 4 Kids.

Robin Hood

Another classic tale of a man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Not only does it contain a great message for children but it also has an archery contest, a great hero that any little boy will love.

A short version of the story can be found here at Bedtime Short Stories.

5 Minute Bedtime Stories for Older Kids

Free 5 Minute Bedtime Stories

Free bedtime stories can be found online for kids of all ages. If your children are older and have already heard all of the classic fairy tales, there are plenty of short stories available that will pique their interest and curiosity.

Here is a list of some great short stories for children aged 7-12, these can all be found on Story Berries and are perfect for those who don’t want to listen to another classic fairy tale.

5 Minute Bedtime Story Books

5 Minute Bedtime Story Books

Do you prefer a physical book? If you love the feel of a real book in your hands there are plenty of lovely collections of short bedtime stories for kids. Here are five story books available on Amazon that are full of fairy tales and exciting stories for kids:

Where to Find 5 Minute Bedtime Stories Online

There are lots of places online where parents can gain free access to hundreds of bedtime stories. Whether you have a baby or teenager, there are stories available online with illustrations, easy-to-read text and sometimes accompanying audio or videos too.

If you are looking for fairy tales or more modern short stories, check out the following websites:

Longer Bedtime Stories for Kids

If you find that you have a little more time for a bedtime story there are some amazing authors whose books provide the perfect bedtime story full of adventures that are perfect for almost any age group.

Julia Donaldson

One of her most famous books is The Gruffalo which is a tale about a little mouse who even as small as he is can get himself out of any situation. She also has a huge collection of equally amazing books that are full of rhyming and fun.

Roald Dahl

These books have delighted children for generations but yet do not seem to age or become old-fashioned.  One of his most famous books is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – a tale of a poor young boy who gets to visit an amazing chocolate factory. But there are many wonders, and unexpected twists and turns during his visit.

Eric Carle

These are the books that you will fill your nursery with even before your little one is born. His books are full of rhyme and bright pictures and not only will they delight young children they also help them to learn things such as the days of the week, counting, and a bit of science. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? will be the start of an amazing journey with this author.


Reading a story at bedtime is the perfect way to calm your child after a busy day and help them to get ready for a night of restful sleep. We know life as a parent can be busy and we hope our list of 5-minute bedtimes stories and places to find even more short bedtime stories online helps you to save time searching for a book to read.

Storytelling is the perfect time for parents to connect and bond with their little ones at the end of the day. If your child prefers modern short stories, classic fairy tales, or traditional fables, you will be able to find the perfect bedtime stories for kids as the internet is full of stories, no matter what their age or interests.