The 31 Best Books for Toddlers
Whether you’re looking to refresh your child’s at-home library or make a big order during your next library trip, the following titles—cherry-picked by real moms—are certain to surprise and delight your toddler. (And, perhaps more importantly, their mom and dad.)
“One Thousand Things” by Anna Kovecses
This interactive book is designed to help children learn—and point to—their first one thousand words. There’s also something so totally cheeky about the curious little mouse who pops up on every page.
“Ping” by Ani Castillo
This darling and visually beautiful book uses a ping-pong analogy to drive home an empowering point about how we send (and receive) communication in our daily lives. In a nutshell, you can only be responsible for what you ping into the world; the pong (aka how other people react) belongs to the other.
“Everyone Poops” by Taro Gomi
Whether you’re a little girl or boy—or a duck, penguin or fish—the title of this charming tale rings true: everyone poops. “I love the way this normalizes the behavior for my son,” one mom adds. “We also laugh a lot reading it aloud.”
“How to Babysit a Grandma” by Jean Reagan
This instructional story educates children on what’s involved with babysitting their grandma. It also comes complete with insight about how to keep a grandma busy, things to do at the park and what do once you’re both tucked in for the night.
“Press Here” by Hervé Tullet
This interactive book teaches kids how to engage with the world around them—and shows the cause and effect of simple actions. Think: tapping on the yellow on the yellow dots and clapping your hands to make them bigger.
“Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beaty
Few people can appreciate Iggy’s talent for building—that is, until his quick thinking (and structural creativity) gets his entire class out of a jam. (If your toddler likes this one, keep going and try the next two titles in the series: Ada Twist, Scientist and Rosie Revere, Engineer.)
“High Five” by Adam Rubin
This hilarious tale—about a competition for who can serve up the best high five—will have even young toddlers slapping the pages. (It’s also by the author of Dragons Love Tacos, a classic.)
“Llama Llama, Time to Share” by Anna Dewdney
When Llama Llama gets new neighbors, he has to practice his sharing skills in this sweet and relatable tale with an impeccable rhyme scheme.
“Lubna and Pebble” by Wendy Meddour
This beautifully illustrated picture book delves into the subject of friendship when a girl, whose best friend is a pebble, meets a little boy who may need it more than she does. (“It’s about being in a strange new place and making new friends and my toddler loves it,” says one mom.)
“Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth” by Oliver Jeffers
Yes, the artwork is frame-worthy, but the humor and poignancy also resonate in this guide for earthlings on how to live on, appreciate and care for our beloved planet. Even if you don’t read all the small print, kiddos will love the illustrations and pointing at various details like the planets or the sea.
“Little Blue Truck” by Alica Schertle
Just try not to memorize this catchy story about a truck who will do anything and everything to help his friends (and strangers) in need.
“The Pout-Pout Fish” by DEBORAH DIESEN
When a fish is blessed with a permanent pout, he leans into the “womp womp” aspect of his appearance…until another fish alerts him to an alternative destiny. (“My daughter loves requesting ‘pow pow,’” says one mom. “It’s a classic in our house.”)
“The Bear and the Piano” by David Litchfield
When a curious bear discovers a piano in the forest, he learns how to play it—and is whisked off to a world far beyond his home. That’s where the conflict happens: How does he maintain ties with his fellow bears and pursue his passion at the same time? A universal struggle, for sure.
“Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
The rhythmic prose of this book—about a giraffe that believes he has two left feet—is magical, but so is the lesson learned: Being different and tolerating others’ differences is not just OK, but wonderful.
“The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats
It’s hard to capture the sense of possibility that a fresh blanket of snowfall brings, but this 1962 book does just that as it follows a boy out exploring on a snowy day and his quest to make the snow last forever. (Impossible!)
“The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson
When a mouse strolls through the woods, he encounters a hungry fox, owl and snake. In an effort to protect himself, he invents a creature that’s a lot tougher than all, called the Gruffalo. The Gruffalo is just pretend of course…or is he?
“Knuffle Bunny” by Mo Willems
A family trip to the laundromat goes awry when “somebunny” goes missing in this self-described cautionary tale of things that happen when dad is in charge.
“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems
Another classic from Willems—this book (just one in the Pigeon series) follows an opinionated bird who would love nothing more than to drive the bus. (The reader is in charge of making sure that doesn’t happen…hilarity ensues.)
“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
It’s a race to the finish in this alphabet book that has each and every letter competing to see who can get to the top of a coconut tree first.
“The Book with No Pictures” by B.J. Novak
No pictures—sounds boring, right? Not the case, especially if it’s required that every word on the page be read aloud. “My son adored this one,” says one mom. “He cracked up literally every time, plus they end up learning what the words say even if they can’t read.”
“A Normal Pig” by K-Fai Steele
A story about being different than the rest, this book follows a “normal” pig named Pip who does “normal” stuff until another pig at school starts pointing out all the ways Pip is totally unique.
“Together” By Emma Dodd
A tribute to how special it is for baby and parent to spend their days together, this exquisite book follows a little sea otter and the adventures he goes on with his parents day after day.
“Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey
When a little girl and her mom venture out to pick buckets of blueberries, they encounter a mama bear and her cub doing exactly the same thing in this classic from 1948.
“A House Is a House for Me” by Mary Ann Hoberman
This book about houses delves deep into understanding where everyone (and everything) lives, whether you’re an ant or a dog…or a corn kernel or a pea. It’s also just plain ol’ fun to read aloud.
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
This book—about a family on a quest to find a bear and a bit of adventure—celebrates the wonders of imagination. “It’s been a part of our bedtime routine for as long as I can remember,” says one mom.
“Each Peach Pear Plum” by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
All the usual nursery rhyme characters dot this tale, which challenges kids to play “I spy” and pick out the fairy-tale elements they recognize on each page.
“Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss
Your kids will love the rhymes in this decades-old classic; you’ll love that it expands their vocabulary in the most simple, clever way.
“Madeline” by Ludwig Bemelmans
She’s a courageous and Paris-based little lady who’s the smallest of the bunch at her boarding school, but who challenges her teachers all the same.
“Swarm of Bees” by Lemony Snicket
An angry hoard of bees wreaks havoc on everything in it's path in this silly and heartwarming book that hammers home the point that while you may sometimes lose control of your emotions and buzz around looking for people to sting or trouble to cause, it's how you calm down that matters most. “The cadence of this book feels like an actual tantrum—and one that has a very calming conclusion,” one mom weighs in.
“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
The illustrations are epic in this imaginative tale about a little boy Max, who, after causing trouble and getting sent to bed without supper, watches with wonder as his bedroom transforms into a faraway jungle…and an adventure to be had.