10 best books for toddlers
The number of words a child knows when entering Kindergarten is a key predictor of his or her future success (source). Consequently, reading aloud to kids is one of the single most important things parents can do to help their kids learn those vital words in the early years and get a good start in life.
Sometimes it can be hard to get a toddler to sit still long enough to get through a whole story, but choosing books that are specifically geared toward the youngest learners in your family can help make story time a success.
Here is my top 10 list of books your toddler will love. They are specifically geared toward children ages 1-3 (who are in a critical stage of brain development) and have been chosen based on the following four qualities of toddler-friendly books:
- Simple text – Most toddlers don’t have the attention span for a long story. Books with just a few words on a page are best to keep the momentum going…especially when your little one just wants to keep turning the pages.
- Rhyming – Through rhyming text children learn the cadence and rhythm of language, which will benefit them as they learn to talk and eventually read on their own.
- Bright colors – high-contrast illustrations grab the attention of young children (why do you think they all love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom?)
- Repetition – Books with a repeated pattern appeal to young children’s desire for order and build their confidence in their ability to predict events.
Top 10 Best Books for Toddlers
1. Blue Hat, Green Hat – Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton has a whole library of awesome toddler books, but this is one of our family’s favorites. Toddlers think it’s hilarious that, page after page, the silly turkey can’t manage to get his clothes put on correctly…oops! It’s great for color identification and vocabulary development.
2. Go, Dog, Go! – P.D. Eastman
There’s a reason that this books has endured for more than half a century as one of America’s most beloved children’s books. Not only are the imaginative illustrations engaging for young kids, the simple descriptive text is fabulous for expanding vocabulary skills.
3. The Pout Pout Fish – Deborah Diesen
This sweet story about a grumpy fish who just can’t seem to turn his mood around has a great message about kindness. Additionally, the skillful rhyme and meter of the book makes it fun to read aloud, and gives kids a better feel for the rhythm of language.
4. Goodnight Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann
It’s amazing how detailed this story is considering how little text is in it. The story of a gorilla who lets all the other animals out of their zoo enclosures to follow the zookeeper home at night is perfect subject matter for zoo-loving toddlers, and it lends itself to lots of discussions with little ones about what the pictures tell us about the story.
5. I am a Bunny – Richard Scarry
Many people know Richard Scarry from his Busy, Busy Town books, but this simple board books about a bunny named Nicholas was a childhood favorite of mine. Now, my children love to read about Nicholas’s journey through the seasons of the year, too. Beautiful illustrations and a gentle story flow will keep your toddler coming back again and again.
6. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear – Don & Audrey Wood
This was another childhood favorite of mine that my children have embraced just as strongly. The little mouse picks a beautiful ripe strawberry only to learn that there is a bear in the forest that will surely come after the juicy treat. How can the mouse keep his prized strawberry safe? Toddlers will love the excitement of the story and laugh at all the funny ways the mouse tries to hide the strawberry.
7. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? – Jane Yolen
This book has everything a toddler could want—gigantic dinosaurs, vibrant illustrations, dramatic bedtime antics, and a fun rhyming pattern. It’s the first book of several that Yolen has since written about dinosaurs living the life of a child, and it’s delightful.
8. Press Here – Herve Tullet
This interactive book is a great way to get fidgety toddlers more involved in reading time. As they “press here” and see what happens, readers are pulled into an imaginative world of color where there actions on every page affect the story.
9. I Love You Through and Through – Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
This simple, sweet story is a great one to read after a long day with a crazy toddler. It will remind you of all the things you really do love about your little monkey, and the simple text is great for teaching your toddler new vocabulary. Plus, you won’t be able to resist snuggling them a little tighter by the end of the book.
10. Maisy’s Amazing Big Book of Learning – Lucy Cousins
Maisy is the star of a whole series of books geared toward preschoolers, and this interactive book is my favorite of the bunch. It’s full of colors, shapes, animals, numbers, letters, and just about anything else your toddler could possibly want to learn about. My toddler’s favorite part is looking for the baby chicks hiding on each page. We have literally loved this book to pieces.