The 50 Best Books for Toddlers

The 50 Best Books for Toddlers list is complete! Who knew there were so many amazing kids books?! Based on my research I’ll definitely be expanding our own library, which I’m very excited about.

The final list of the 50 Best Books for Toddlers is a mix of classics, bestsellers, and lesser known but highly regarded books appropriate for toddlers. Thank you to everyone who made suggestions on the Facebook page! Many of your suggestions made the list. If you have a favorite that’s not here, please let me know in the comments! Maybe there will be a part two down the road.

And now, onto the books…

The 50 Best Books for Toddlers

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1. Little Blue Truck

Whether you think the Green Toad is a hero or a glory hound is up to you. Either way it’s true: a lot depends on the helping hand of a few good friends.

2. I Am a Bunny

There is nothing flashy about this book whatsoever. It’s hard to pinpoint the appeal of it, but the illustrations have a richness to them that I love, and my toddler loves the simple, straightforward story.

3. Goodnight Moon

I know, there are some issues with this classic (yes the bedroom is the size of a palace and definitely that fireplace is not properly child-proofed). And yet still, the rhythm of this book can’t be beat. Just repeating a few phrases from it puts my toddler to sleep (not that that’s always the goal of reading, but it’s a win at bedtime).

4. Love You Forever

Ok I’ll admit it: as I was first reading this book I kept thinking that it was super creepy. Until I got to the end, at which point I was sobbing. At heart this is not the story of a helicopter mom gone awry. Rather, it is “a testament to a parents’ love that persists beyond time and space…” (You still may think it’s creepy, but I gave you fair warning).

5. Where the Wild Things Are

Although I remember it from childhood, when I revisited it with my son I was still startled by how good it is.

6. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

This #1 New York Times Bestseller has it all: irresistible artwork by best-selling illustrator Tom Lichtenheld and sweet, rhyming text. This book is a hit with truck enthusiasts big and small.

7. Little Monster’s Bedtime Book

This is the type of old-fashioned children’s book that parents are seeking out 30-odd years after they fell in love with it during their own childhoods. That kind of nostalgia? Priceless.

8. Hop on Pop

Loved by generations, this “simplest Seuss for youngest use” is a Beginner Book classic.

9. The Poky Little Puppy

This is one of the most popular children’s books of all time, having sold 15 million copies since its release in 1942. My aunt sent this book to Nolan as a gift, and as soon as I opened it I remembered seeing these pictures when I was a young child. I loved them then and I still love them now.

10. Everyone Poops

This may not be a literary classic, but I dare you to find a toddler who doesn’t enjoy a little poop talk.



11. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

This book has a great rhythm and is useful for practicing the alphabet. I also really like the shorter version, Chicka Chicka ABC.


12. Are You My Mother?

You’d hope this baby bird would be slightly sharper in the recognition of familiar faces department. Try not to judge the little guy and you’ll love this book.

13. Pat the Bunny

This book is for the littlest reader. It is an interactive, multimedia experience for your young child and it’s not an iPad. Can’t beat that.

14. The Napping House

This book has some major awards to its credit: ALA Notable Children’s Book, New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, Golden Kite Award winner, California Young Reader Medal winner, Booklist Editors’ Choice. I’ll be buying this one.

15. Corduroy

A bear comes alive at night in a department store. What’s not to like about that?

16. Little Pea

A good book choice for picky eaters.

17. Good Night, Gorilla

The narrative of this story is conveyed almost entirely through pictures, which makes it a good bet for very young children.

18. The Runaway Bunny

This is the “profoundly comforting story of a bunny’s imaginary game of hide and seek, and the loving steadfast mother who finds him every time.” This book has never been out of print since 1942, and is a well loved classic by the duo of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd (who are also responsible for Goodnight Moon). Hit-makers, those two.

19. The Gruffalo

As long as your child is not terrified of the main character (It’s a gamble! Roll the dice!) this is a good bet.

20. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Ok I’ll admit that I don’t find this book totally enthralling. But you know who does? MY TODDLER. So I’m going to have to recommend this book of animals staring each other down even though we all know they would never bump into each other in the wild.

21. Dear Zoo

This book is considered a children’s classic. Also, it’s about the zoo, and aside from barnyards the zoo is where it’s at when you’re a toddler.

22. The Cat in the Hat

This old-standby has stood the test of time, and is still a winner when it comes to teaching little ones to read. Seuss uses simple, single vowel vocabulary to great effect when it comes to developing early literacy.

23. Llama Llama Red Pajama

This book just came into our lives and I wish it had sooner. Sometimes you just can’t get enough llama drama.

24. Possum Magic

This book has a universal appeal, but it is also a distinctly Australian story with its vocabulary, locations and characters.

25. It’s Okay To Be Different

This book is a “simple, playful celebration of diversity.” As a parent I love Todd Parr’s messaging, and my toddler loves to look at the bright, whimsical pictures. Both silly and serious, this book is a good bet for those wanting to promote acceptance of differences from an early age.

26. Press Here

This book will make your child believe in magic. Ready?

27. I Love You Through And Through

This is a cuddly book about unconditional love. There is no real plot to speak of, but there is an affirmation of love that will work well for young children (ages 1-3).

28. The Boss Baby

Can we all just agree that babies are dictators? The comedy of this book is more geared for parents than toddlers. That’s ok, though, since you’ll have to read it 10,000 times you might as well get a kick out of it.

29. The Going-To-Bed Book

This is a weirdly awesome little bedtime book. The characters are doing the opposite of unwinding for bed (they decide to bang out a quick exercise routine before rock, rock, rocking to sleep). I think Sandra Boynton is just messing with us. Nolan and I both love this one.

30. I Like Myself!

This book is high on energy and imagination. Its message of self-love and acceptance is great for emerging discussions on self-esteem. If your kid already thinks she’s the bomb maybe skip this one. 🙂

31. I Love You, Stinky Face

This book shows how even a mother’s love can be tested by 500 asinine questions. (Love triumphs, obviously. It would be a weird children’s book if all the annoying questions of the little boy drove the mother to leave her family, now wouldn’t it).

32. Toddle Waddle

This is a fun, playful, follow-the-leader story for young toddlers.

33. The Story of Ferdinand

Ferdinand is the world’s most peaceful–and–beloved little bull. While all of the other bulls snort, leap, and butt their heads, Ferdinand is content to just sit and smell the flowers under his favorite tree. He probably wouldn’t do very well in gym class, but that’s not the point. This book has an old fashioned sweetness to it that’s hard to resist.

34. The Giving Tree

‘Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.’ This story has a tender melancholy to it that is undeniable. Shel Silverstein hits a poignant note in his children’s books, creating classics for readers of all ages. This one belongs on your shelf.

35. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This caterpillar is an overeater. But unlike human overeaters, he doesn’t have to worry about his cholesterol and instead can just be psyched that he turns into a butterfly.

36. Let’s Be Thankful

“I like to be thankful for all I receive…” I can recite this one by heart, but I will spare you. This book encourages gratitude, the illustrations are adorable and it’s a quick read. My toddler loves it.

37. The Pout-Pout Fish

Children will love the repetition of verse in this New York Times Bestseller. The Pout-Pout Fish was named a Time Magazine Top 10 Children’s Book of 2008.

38. The Little Engine That Could

“I think I can! I think I can!” This beloved tale of the Little Blue Engine who isn’t afraid to try hasn’t lost any steam (see what I did there?) over the years. Start ’em on self-help books early with this classic.

39. Bear Snores On

From the New York Times bestselling team of Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman comes the story of a bear who doesn’t realize a party is happening in his cave as he snores and snores. Sure the guy may need a CPAP machine at some point, but let’s not focus on that.

40. The Velveteen Rabbit

This is the classic story of how toys–and people–become real through the wisdom and experience of love.

41. Love Monster

The Love Monster needs someone to love him just the way he is. And don’t we all?

42. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

This book is funny because it is so accurate. (Not the whole pigeon as a driver deal, but the ridiculousness of bargaining with a pre-schooler will ring true to anyone living with a “threenager”).

43. You Are My I Love You

Since its original hardcover release in 2001, You Are My I Love You has sold nearly half a million copies worldwide. The verse can get a little overdone (“I am your dry towel; you are my wet bath”), but the wonders of love between a parent and child still make this a sweet book for little ones.

44. The Monster at the End of This Book

You probably remember this book from your own childhood – it’s often listed by adults as an all-time favorite story. Sometimes you just can’t beat good old Grover.

45. Make Way for Ducklings

This book was awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941; it has since become a favorite of millions. I especially love it being from the Boston area – if you’re from Massachusetts this is more than a classic. It’s a symbol of home.

46. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

The scale of the pictures make this read-aloud story ideal for sharing in larger groups.

47. Blueberries for Sal

This Caldecott Medal Winner breathes a youthful spirit of adventure into the pages. This is an endearing story of irrepressible curiosity. Don’t miss this one.

48. The Family Book

No matter what type of family you have, Todd Parr assures readers that every family is special in its own unique way. Parr’s message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in his trademark style – playful, with bold, bright colors and silly scenes. This book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families.

49. Green Eggs and Ham

With unmistakable characters and signature rhymes, Dr. Seuss’s beloved favorite has cemented its place as a children’s classic. Also, it makes me want to go to a diner.

50. The Day the Crayons Quit

This was the Amazon Best Children’s Book of 2013. It is a hard hitting look at what happens when crayons have had enough and go on strike. Or something like that. This book has been a huge success, and is geared toward older toddler/early school-aged kids.


What would you add to the list of Best Books for Toddlers? Leave a comment, I’d love to expand on this list!

And if you have a slightly older child, you can find my 15 Best Books for Preschoolers list HERE!


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  1. Anything by Chris VanDusen. He has wonderful illustrations. Our favorite, liking to ski, is Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee.

  2. Please Baby Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

    My sons favorites!

  3. On The NIght You Were Born, and Wherever You Are by Nancy Tillman. I also love anything by Todd Parr.

  4. Some of my all time favorites…..Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, Little Bear by Maurice Sendak (series), Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats. So many, many beloved books! Hard to know where to start!

  5. Ish, the dot, so few of me (anything by Peter h Reynolds)

    Also, the paper bag princess

    And zen ties (or any of the others by that author)

    Lastly, the belly button book!

    All my others are on here!

  6. Three little pigs , by Nick Page. As the typical story unfolds, the wolf is imagines how to serve the pigs using rhyme.

  7. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M Joosse
    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
    The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
    The Mitten by Jan Brett
    (can you tell I have a winter baby? 😉 )

    • Yes! Mama Do You Love Me! I’m part native American so this one was always special for me growing up.

  8. Some of our top picks (which may or may not include an underlying theme of travel and diversity)…
    Ten Little Finger and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox (the illustrations will make you melt, they’re just too cute)
    Madeline (a classic!!) by Ludwig Bemelmens (Téo loves saying “Pooh Pooh” to the tiger at the zoo)
    Click Clack Moo (toddlers love the animals, adults love the social commentary)

  9. My son LOVES Feely Bugs by David Carter! We read it so much I have it memorized!

  10. I’m sure you are overwhelmed with suggestions, but Giraffes Can’t Dance is really fantastic. It has a great message (be yourself), beautiful illustrations, and the rhyming verse is really fun to read out loud.

    • 100% agree! Came to the comments section to suggest this one. My daughter can recite the book from start to finish!

  11. Our 2 year old and we parents loved Gruffalo and Room on the Broom so much that we got most of Julia Donaldson’s other books. They have a rhyming rhythm that makes them fun to read.

  12. I *love* All the World – can’t remember the author but it’s the same illustrator as Boss Baby. The words are amazing, the pictures are fantastic, the message is great. All around a favorite.

  13. The Wild Baby – Barbro Lindgren. My absolute favorite as a kid. I read it every night to my son.

  14. My daughter and I loved he book Billy The Goat’s Big Breakfast by Jez Albourogh. There’s lots of fun rhyming and song included in the book.

  15. Guess How Much I love You by Sam McBratney – both my 2 y.o. daughter and I can recite it by heart – though she likes to replace “Little nut-brown hare” with “Little nut brown Jo”

  16. So many on this list we love (as well as some by others by authors on this list-like basically anything by Sandra Boynton) but a few that didn’t make it: You’re All My Favorite (great for multichild families), The Very Cranky Bear and I want my hat back. All short enough for toddlers to enjoy with great illustrations!

  17. If You Want to See a Whale is my daughter’s favorite! It has a beautiful, sweet lulling cadence and simple but gorgeous illustrations!

  18. Pete the Cat – especially the one about his groovy buttons! And Harper Collins has the song to go with the story on their website for free.

  19. Love this list. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE “Little Owl’s Night” by Divya Srinivasan. One of my favorites!

  20. any of the pete the cat books, especially Pete the Cat and his white shoes and Pete the Cat and his groovy buttons.

  21. Juju the GOOD voodoo!!! It’s a whole series!! A voodoo doll from da bayou comes alive with a “good deeds” spell and spreads goodness, good deeds ad shows that so called negative things can be positive it’s how you look at them 🙂

  22. The Belly Button Book, Sometimes I like to Curl up in a Ball, You are my Cupcake, and On the Night you Were Born are some of my daughter’s favourites, and mine as well.

  23. Guess How Much I Love You , The Kissing Hand and SkippyJonJones. My sons are now 15 and 11, they still remember me reading these to them and are their favorites!

  24. As a bit of extra info to the Love You Forever book, it was written after the family lost their child. The words were the song the parents would sing to their child. Once I knew that the book is even more a tear jerker.

  25. Some of my daughter’s favorites:
    Dragons love Tacos by Adam Rubin
    The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
    Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell
    Olivia series by Ian Falconer
    The “Larry gets Lost in..” series

  26. There are many onthislost thati like- especially MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS ALand Green Eggs and Ham. All of the Dr. Seuss booksare slso recommended for children with reading disabilities because of the repetition.
    WhenI visited Boston briefly, I went to Boston Commons park where MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS was set. Now theyhave sculptures of the mother and her ducklings.Robert McCloskey also authored a book called ONE MORNING IN MAINE which i love vecausepf the ollustrations

  27. Two slightly-off-the-beaten path books we love:

    Charlie’s Superhero Underpants by Paul Bright
    One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root

    We love the rhythm and rhyming of both stories and it makes the reading a lot of fun.

  28. No “Harold and the Purple Crayon”?!?! Best puns ever even if the kid won’t recognize them until later in life.

  29. A new favorite is Some Bugs by Di’Terlizzi. An oldie is Feathers for Lunch by Ehlert. Both are great for toddlers and older kids.

  30. Super great list, nice to see an Aussie inclusion with ‘Possum Magic’ (kind of like the holy grail of kid’s books among Australian teachers).
    I would add The Wonky Donkey, because who doesn’t love a three legged, country music lovin’, farting donkey? Also ‘Diary of a wombat’ by Jackie French and ‘imagine’ by Alison Lester. Oh, and anything by Pamela Allen, especially for early school years.
    I rate these all highly as a primary teacher and now as mum to one year old who is just raising books are not only for chewing and spine inspections.

  31. We complied a few more lesser-known favorites…(see if you can pick up on a theme?)
    -Oh No, Gotta Go —Fabulous fushion of English and Spanish with a scenerio all parents of toddlers understand.
    – The Story of the Little Mole who went in Search of Whodunit –Laugh out loud funny for parents and toddlers.
    -Walter the Farting Dog — hysterical text and illustrations!

    Plus a few go to favorites
    -Curious George (not the original, don’t want to promote the illegal pet trade here)
    -Frog and Toad

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  33. Yesterday I lost my sneaker (and found the great goob sick) by David M. McPhail and Bubble Bubble by Mercer Mayer

  34. We love all of these (especially Little Blue Truck and Stinky Face) but I also like Hernando Fandango The Great Dancing Dog by Rachel Swirles

  35. “It’s not a box” is a great one. Simple but a fun way to encourage imaginations.
    “Toot” by Leslie Patricelli is fun if you’re not morally opposed to laughing at farts.
    “Bear and Hare – Where’s Bear?” by Emily Gravett is cute. Simple way to learn numbers.
    “Sheep in a Jeep” – again simple, but a favorite. I like rhyming.
    “It’s time to sleep, My Love” by Nancy Tillman. Great illustrations and again with the rhyming.

    Max is just getting old enough to enjoy longer books like the Madeline series. Also – our local library is a godsend! Great way to get some variety.

  36. I enjoyed the list but my son really love ‘DADA’ by Jimmy Fallon………………… ‘Goodnight Moon’, and ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear…’ There is a couple of books I will check out to add to his collection… My little guy has his favorite, hard to add to it… We’ll see, We’ll see….

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  38. How do I love you by Marion Bauer and Sweet dreams my little Love bug by Ron Berry. Both great bedtime books.

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