The best Roald Dahl books for bedtime

Roald Dahl books for bedtime

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

We love to celebrate Roald Dahl books and his fabulous stories every day of the year, but officially, Roald Dahl Day is 13th September. Not that we need an excuse, but we've found all the best children's books, by none other than the literary genius himself.

One of the world's most iconic children's writers, Dahl continues to be loved by generations of little bookworms with his collection of classic children's books. He created family favourites like Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and James and the Giant Peach. Dahl sparked imagination in us all; with some of our favourite childhood heroes and the most feared characters coming from his work.

The best Roald Dahl books for bedtime at a glance:

Best Roald Dahl book overall: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Buy now on Amazon
Best Roald Dahl book about dreams: The BFG - Buy now on Amazon
Best Roald Dahl book with magic: Matilda - Buy now on Amazon

You'll never need help getting your little ones into a bedtime routine again as they'll be excited to listen to the next chapter of the story about friendly giants, horrible headteachers or eccentric inventors. Plus, it's a chance to do something fun together every day. Instead of exhausting yourself and coming up with ideas of what to read, choose from our helpful guide of the best Roald Dahl books.

The Best Roald Dahl Books

Best Roald Dahl book overall

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Price: $7.95

Adapted into one of the best-loved films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is loved by kids and adults alike and a must for your child's bookcase. The book tells the tale of a boy who wins a golden ticket and a place on a tour of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Don’t worry, it’s not just jam-packed with sweets! It also teaches kids the importance of family and manners.

Review: 'I have to say the book is great - I'm enjoying reading it and my son (very nearly 4) is fascinated by all the details - cabbage soup for dinner and mattresses on the floor etc.'

Best Roald Dahl book about dreams

The BFG
Price: $24.12

Does your little boy or girl suffer from nightmares? What better way send them to dreamland than by reading a story about the BFG, AKA the Big Friendly Giant. As the plot unfolds, it's revealed that this legendary character catches dreams, including bad ones.

Review: 'The story is amazing, even as an adult I can appreciate it. The beauty of the book is that the bulk of the story is what you interpret between the lines. Roald Dahl describes everything with a slight vagueness which enables you to imagine the world and characters your own way and get lost in your own imagination, with just guidance from the book and its beautiful illustrations to keep you on track. I found myself completely lost in the book and it has inspired me to read more.'

Best Roald Dahl book with magic

Matilda
Price: $7.24

Teach your kids about a little girl who wants nothing more than to read and learn about the world. Although her TV-obsessed family have other ideas, she starts to uncover that she has magical powers and uses them to stop the headmistress's bullying ways.

Review: 'Matilda’s little acts of mischief to get back at adults who have behaved unfairly towards her had my nephew – and probably me at a similar age – rubbing his hands together in glee. (Though if he ever tries any of them on me, I may have to do a Trunchbull myself and throw him out of a window.) This though, for me, is why Matilda is just so special. It manages like nothing else I’ve read before or since to convey the wonderful power of reading.

Best Roald Dahl book for older children

The Witches
Price: $25.94

This story will be better for older children and is as close to horror as a kid’s fiction book can get. If the Bogeyman under their bed doesn't faze them, then the terrifying child-hating witches will be no problem. Although at one point, it might seem like every child in the world is going to be turned into mice, the bad sorcerers get their comeuppance in the end. Top tip: just be mindful of where you pause the story.

Review: 'One of my favourite books. Roald Dahl has an exceptional way of moving through events in the story- events were narrated at fast pace and were unexpected. The book is one that keeps you fully engaged and you really live the experience. Highly recommended for those who like witchcraft or spooky books blended with some reality and deep messages for life.'

Best Roald Dahl sequel

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
Price: $9.90

Did you know that Charlie and the Chocolate factory has a sequel? Picking up where the first book finished, your children will love reading about how Mr Wonka's elevator takes Charlie into out of space, where he and his family are mistaken for being aliens. EEEK!

Review: 'My 4 year old was riveted by this. She loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl didn't fail to keep her enthralled with the second book.'

Recommended

Fantastic Mr Fox
Price: $11.70

Farmers Boggis, Bruce and Bean just aren’t quick enough to beat Mr Fox, the sneaky chicken snatcher who moves on to bigger and better thievery, with a bit of a sad ending for his bushy tail.

Review: 'This is my favourite Roald Dahl book, they are all amazing, but this one I keep going back to more than the others. It's such an amazing story even though it's one of the shorter of his more well-known ones.
I've just finished reading this to my 5 year old son. The chapters are quite short, which is good when reading to your child before their bedtime. There is no 'filler' just amazing story on every page.'

Recommended

James and the Giant Peach
Price: $20.19

We’d all like to escape from characters like Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker (yikes), and little James does just that when he climbs inside a giant peach for the adventure of a lifetime. This book will spark imagination in your kids as he makes friends with creatures and animals while on his travels.

Review: 'This book was a childhood favourite of mine. My kids got to experience it as well, so, naturally I bought the book in preparation for the next generation coming to my family. This is a classic that I will share with generations to come.

Recommended

Georgeu0026#039;s Marvellous Medicine
Price: $19.57

Before Harry Potter was on the scene, this tall tale had inspired generations of children to create their own potion. When they’re making their own magical medicine, hide everything expensive as they might include anything they can get their hands on, including makeup, mud and maybe even their clothes. Not only will this encourage fun play, but it also teaches your kids how to help grumpy grandmas who need their special medicine.

Review: 'This is one of my favourite books as a teacher! Great for KS2 children! Would highly recommend for laughs and giggles. It’s even better when you put on different accents as the characters!'

Recommended

Welcome to The Twits! An evil couple who are known for playing nasty practical jokes on each other. This book will definitely get belly laughs out of your little ones. They’ll love the fact that Mr Twit hides frogs in his wife’s bed, and in return, Mrs Twit tricks her husband by making him gobble down worms instead of spaghetti.

Review: 'Every year I begin reading The Twits to my classroom of second graders. It effectively serves as the 'gateway drug' to the world of Roald Dahl. Usually by Christmas time, half of my kids are walking around showing off their entire Roald Dahl box sets. They read these books for pleasure - even at home! In a time of children preferring their digital toys seemingly over anything else, what could be more encouraging?'

Recommended

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Price: $21.30

For me, this is an underrated Dahl classic about a young boy who always dreamed of owning a sweet shop. Billy ends up making new friends from the jungle, until everything goes wrong when a burglar tries to steal the Duchess’s jewels.

Review: 'A birthday present for my nearly 7 ear old grandson who enjoys Roald Dahl and loves giraffes. He has just started to enjoy reading to himself, as well as being read to, and Dahl's books are easy to break down into short passages. This book does not in fact have chapters but I have bought a giraffe bookmark to solve that problem.

Recommended

The Magic Finger
Price: $17.14

This is a magical adventure about a girl who grows up on a farm in British countryside and lives next door to a hunter. But, she has a secret – she has the ability to shoot a beam of energy from her finger when she’s angry. This fantasy book will grab the attention of your kids and have them excited for story time.

Review: 'My daughter loves this book, in fact she pretty much loves all Roald Dahl books. She loves the pictures and all the graphic descriptions of all the characters and what they get up to.'

Recommended

Esio Trot
Price: $19.62

The final book to appear on this list is also the last to be published by Dahl. The story is about an old man who’s in love with a widow named Mrs Silver. She doesn’t know it yet, but he’s about to win her heart. But, this isn’t just a love story; there’s also a tortoise to look after.

Review: 'Lovely book... a perfect first Roald Dahl for a 5 year old. Nothing scary, pure imagination and fun!'

What age are Roald Dahl books suitable for?

Roald Dahl's books are typically suitable for children aged 7 and up, although some of his books may be more appropriate for older children due to their content and complexity. The books are known for their imaginative and sometimes dark themes, so you should consider your child's maturity and reading level when selecting appropriate stories. It's always a good idea to read the books first or alongside your child to gauge their suitability.

Tips for reading with 7-year-olds

Visit the library: Take regular trips to the library and let your child choose their own books. Librarians can also recommend age-appropriate titles.

Read aloud together: Continue reading aloud to your child, even if they are starting to read on their own. Reading together can be a bonding experience and can introduce them to more advanced vocabulary and stories.

Set a reading routine: Establish a daily reading routine, such as bedtime reading. Consistency helps make reading a habit.

Create a comfortable reading space: Designate a cosy and inviting reading nook with good lighting where your child can read comfortably and go to when they need somewhere quiet.

Use phonics and sight words: Help your child develop reading skills through phonics and recognising sight words (common words they should recognise on sight).

Discuss the story: After reading a book, ask your child questions about the story, characters, and their favourite parts. This helps with comprehension and critical thinking.

Expand vocabulary: Whenever your child encounters a new word, take a moment to explain its meaning. Encourage them to use the word in a sentence.

Celebrate achievements: Celebrate reading milestones and achievements, such as finishing a book or reading for a certain amount of time without assistance.

Explore different genres: Introduce your child to various genres of books, including fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, and more. This can help them discover their interests.

Patience and encouragement: Be patient and supportive as your child learns to read. Encourage their efforts and praise their progress, no matter how small.

Emily Gilbertis the Features & Reviews Editor for Mother&Baby and has written for the website and previously the magazine for six years. Specialising in product reviews, Emily is the first to know about all the exciting new releases in the parenting industry.

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