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Reading with your children is more than important, it’s essential to the development of babies and toddlers. Why?

Because reading helps familiarize your child with literacy and language. It teaches them about the world, visually and through sound. Through reading, your child can (and will) learn the skills they need to talk.

Indeed, from potty training to the power of friendship, books can prepare your little one for life.

From bright and bold pictures to varying materials, textures, pulls, and flaps, toddlers love stories that engage them and capture their attention. They also enjoy repetition and any story that talks about poop. Trust me — nothing gets a little one to laugh quite like poop.

When it came time to select our favorite toddler books, our process was simple: We looked on our bookshelves for our favorite picture books and short stories.

We scoured our memories, attempting to recall the timeless classics that brought us joy. Finally, we asked fellow parents and read hundreds of reviews.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $6
  • $$ = $6–$15
  • $$$ = over $15

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • Price: $
  • Author and illustrator: Eric Carle

One of the most popular children’s books of all time, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” has entertained generations. Why? Because the story is fun and lighthearted, the illustrations are bright and bold, and the caterpillar is adorable and lovable. Almost all children love this book, and it introduces a variety of foods, as well as days of the week.

Yummy Yucky

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Leslie Patricelli

Cookies are yummy but coffee is yucky, at least according to the adorable toddler in this popular children’s book. Toddlers with a sense of humor may get a kick out of this food-centered board book. Learning about opposites has never been more fun!

Corduroy

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Don Freeman

Corduroy was first introduced to readers in the 1960s, and in the 50+ years since, his adventures have never stopped. Tenderhearted toddlers may be especially drawn to the story of a little bear and his newfound friend. This story — and the subsequent sequel, “A Pocket for Corduroy” — are fun, colorful classics for kids ages 2 to 82.

The Family Book

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Todd Parr

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and Todd Parr knows this. From single-family households to those composed of two moms or two dads, “The Family Book” highlights the beauty and differences that make each and every family unit unique.

Green Eggs and Ham

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Dr. Seuss

“Do you like green eggs and ham?” That’s the age-old question posed by Sam-I-Am in this whimsical, songlike story. Verbal toddlers will love the repetition and silliness of this story, and it’s great for early preschool readers as well!

Counting Kisses

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Karen Katz

How many kisses does a tired baby need? If your kiddo loves to count, this book will answer that question and encourage affection. It’s perfect for bedtime!

Baby Happy Baby Sad

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Leslie Patricelli

Looking for a good way to introduce emotional regulation to your children? “Baby Happy Baby Sad” will help your little one understand their thoughts and feelings. This is a great book to help your toddler build vocabulary they’ll need to describe how they’re feeling.

The Big Shiny Sparkly First Words Book

  • Price: $
  • Author and illustrator: Susie Lacome

With dazzling images, interactive flaps, and tons of metallic foil, “The Big Shiny Sparkly First Words Book” will delight and educate your toddler while capturing their attention. Kiddos who prefer hands-on learning may particularly enjoy this book.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See

  • Price: $
  • Author: Bill Martin Jr.
  • Illustrator: Eric Carle

A happy frog, a plump purple cat, and a yellow duck are just some of the animals you will meet in this whimsical, colorful, and lyrical book. Many toddlers love predicting what will come next, and will soon have this book memorized. Predictability, such as that found in books like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” can also help soothe anxious children.

If Animals Kissed Good Night

  • Price: $
  • Author: Ann Whitford Paul
  • Illustrator: David Walker

With watercolor-like illustrations and nearly a dozen different animals, “If Animals Kissed Good Night” is the ideal bedtime story for you and your snuggly little love bug. Children who love animals may grow especially fond of this sweet story.

Feminist Baby

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Loryn Brantz

Confident, courageous, and full of spunk, “Feminist Baby”encourages kids to dismiss gender stereotypes, and reminds us that girls can do anything. This book is a great choice for toddler girls as they’re discovering just how capable they are.

Where’s the Poop

  • Price: $$
  • Author: Julie Markes
  • Illustrator: Susan Kathleen Hartung

Every toddler has to face the challenge of potty training, and the perfect potty training book can help. “Where’s the Poop?” will prepare your child for this major milestone in an interactive, engaging, and playful way. Seriously. Potty training has never been more fun!

Grumpy Bird

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Jeremy Tankard

Everyone has bad days, and Grumpy Bird is no different. This feathery friend is too grumpy to eat, play, or fly. But with some time and help, Grumpy Bird overcomes his bad mood. If you and your toddler are at a loss for how to handle the emotional ups and downs of toddlerhood, Grumpy Bird could help — this book is a great way to teach young children about their emotions.

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

  • Price: $
  • Author and illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Another classic by Dr. Seuss, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” has something for everyone, from counting and opposites to a silly little rhyme. Highly verbal or imaginative children are likely to be delighted by the fantastical creatures and whimsical poems in this early reader.

P is for Potty!

  • Price: $
  • Author: Naomi Kleinberg
  • Illustrator: Christopher Moroney

With the help of Elmo and 30 fun, interactive flaps, “P Is for Potty!” will prepare your toddler for potty training. If your toddler is a dedicated Sesame Street fan, or a kinesthetic learner, this lift-the-flap alphabet book is sure to be a hit.

100 First Words for Toddlers

  • Price: $
  • Author: Jayme Yannuzzi
  • Illustrator: Sarah Rebar

Word-picture association helps toddlers build vocabulary and understand the world around them. For your early learner, this simple and colorful book is a great resource. From ball and truck to cup, cat, and car, “100 Words for Toddlers” will engage your child and expand their vocabulary.

Little Blue Truck

  • Price: $$
  • Author: Alice Schertle
  • Illustrator: Jill McElmurry

Blue’s horn goes “beep.” His engine purrs, and in this story, Little Blue Truck learns how to get out of the muck, with the support of his friends. The many sound effects are sure to delight auditory learners (and honestly, most toddlers — we have yet to meet a kiddo who doesn’t love this book!).

Goodnight Moon

  • Price: $
  • Author: Margaret Wise Brown
  • Illustrator: Clement Hurd

Everyone knows about the great green room — and for good reason. With colorful art and a catchy rhyme scheme, this children’s classic is beloved by both parents and kids. Your little one may soon be saying “good night” to everything in their own room, which can be a helpful bedtime ritual for toddlers who struggle to let the day’s fun end.

Can I Eat That?

  • Price: $$$
  • Author: Joshua David Stein
  • Illustrator: Julia Rothman

Getting children to try new foods can be tough, particularly toddlers. From strange colors and textures to off-putting smells, many kids simply refuse food they don’t recognize. But “Can I Eat That?” introduces kids to an array of foods in a fun and creative way. Children who are more hypersensory, hesitant about new foods, or just like to have all the information may benefit from this book.

Love You Forever

  • Price: $
  • Author: Robert Munsch
  • Illustrator: Sheila McGraw

With colorful pictures and a charming story, “Love You Forever” is a beautiful testament to the parent-child bond. This book is a sentimental favorite for many families. It’s a sweet way to remind your child that you’ll “love them forever and like them for always.”

Everyone Poops

  • Price: $$$
  • Author and illustrator: Taro Gomi

While an elephant may make a big poop and a one-hump camel may make a one-hump poop, the truth is that everyone poops. Fun, matter of fact, and full of potty humor. Toddlers who are potty training especially are likely to get a big kick out of this beautifully illustrated book.

Pat the Bunny

  • Price: $$
  • Author: Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Illustrator: Golden Books

With unique materials, colors, and textures, this touch-and-feel book keeps even the littlest readers engaged. Plus, you too can “pat the bunny.” Hands-on learners in particular may enjoy the interactive nature of each page.

It’s Okay to Be Different

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Todd Parr

Like “The Family Book,” Parr’s “It’s Okay to Be Different” celebrates variety, diversity, and the importance of being who you are. Toddlers from a young age can start to grasp empathy and learning about how we are all people and we are all unique.

Press Here

  • Price: $$
  • Author and illustrator: Herve Tullet

Toddlers LOVE to push buttons and see what happens. A New York Times bestseller, “Press Here” takes readers on an interactive journey through the marvelous, the mysterious, the mystical, and the magical.

When I Am Big

  • Price: $$
  • Author: Maria Dek

A counting book that will appeal to the logical learner, “When I Am Big” also fosters curiosity and creativity. It encourages imagination and adventure, and it gives children a glimpse into their future.

Toddlers love repetition and rhyming. Their rapidly developing brains are trying to make sense of language, and books that repeat words and ideas or use rhyming help them develop that structure.

Bright pictures and anything silly (like “honk honk,” animal noises, or bodily functions) are likely to be a hit.

When choosing books to read with your toddler, don’t forget to ask whether you like the book — because you may very well wind up reading it over, and over, and over …. you get the idea. (What can we say? Toddlers learn through — and love — repetition.)

What reading level books should I read to my toddler?

While you don’t need to dive into “War & Peace,” there isn’t a limit on the books you can read to your toddler. Anything that keeps them engaged with you is a win.

That said, most toddlers learn best with simple board books, short stories, and books with rhyming.

Books that are too complicated too quickly may cause your toddler to lose interest because of the language complexity. Over time, they’ll start to enjoy longer stories and books.

Until then, you should look for shorter stories, especially with accompanying pictures, as these will help toddlers build vocabulary and learn about the world around them.

What are the five types of books to use with toddlers?

There are a few types of books you can read with your toddler. Some of the main categories include:

  • Board books: These shorter, easy-to-handle books are geared toward toddlers.
  • Rhyming books: These books focus on rhyming words, and may or may not tell a complete story.
  • Picture books: These are short stories accompanied by illustrations.
  • Teaching books: These are books that help your toddler learn a skill, such as potty training, eating, identifying and expressing emotions, or becoming a big sibling.
  • Bedtime books: These are books that are geared at getting your toddler ready for sleep.

How often should you read to a toddler?

As much as possible! Yes, a toddler’s need to be active coupled with your adult life and obligations will make it impossible to read for hours on end. But you really can’t read to a toddler too much. When busy schedules make it hard to fit in reading together, try some special, designated reading time before naps or at bedtime.

You can also encourage your toddler to practice reading to you. This is especially true if you’re reading their favorite book, as they’ll already remember much of the plot. This will help them practice using vocabulary and creating stories.

Reading to your toddler isn’t just essential, it’s fun. It sparks their creativity and imagination. It helps them learn language and how to navigate the world, and reading with your babe will help you bond.

So grab one of these toddler books and read aloud. There’s nothing else like storytime snuggles.