Top 10 Best Books for Toddlers
Books can serve many purposes in a home.
When it comes to parenting, I can be an overachiever — especially when it comes to literature. Noting my continual references to books and articles about parenting, my mother actually accused me of reading too much during my first pregnancy.
I can’t help myself. Access to a variety of viewpoints on any topic is virtually unlimited these days. As a parent-to-be, I thought it’d be a serious misstep to not prepare for what is arguably one of the most endlessly difficult (and rewarding) experiences of a person’s life. I actually wish I’d had the time and energy to read more.
I also do all I can to expose my children to books. My husband and I started reading to our older son as soon as possible. While he was still in utero, we read sections of the “The Little Prince” to my belly every night. And I have wonderful memories of reading “The Poky Little Puppy” to during his first few days at home.
The benefits of book-led bonding are endless.
It may seem silly to read to a newborn. But, while they are unable to comprehend language or follow a story, newborns are easily calmed by the familiar voices of family members. Maintaining a storytime that started during pregnancy is a great was to help a newborn transition to life on land.
Books are even more important to the development of infants, kickstarting their awareness of how language relates to the world around them.
And, by the time infants reach toddlerhood, books can provide both and entrance into and a retreat from the human experience.
My husband and I read to our older son twice a day, sometimes more. He often cues his readiness for naptime and bedtime by asking to be read to or by cuddling up in his room with a book.
He loves them so much that we built him his own library. In addition to providing refuge, the book nook is a space that he can call his own. If we sense he’s stressed, we’ll lead him to his chair and suggest a book. At other times, he retreats on his own.
His favorite books? See the list below. In an effort to compile a list that reflects the interest of an actual toddler rather than a mom, teacher, or expert, I’ve done my best to keep my own bias at bay.
1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
For his first birthday, Gryphon’s cousins gave him a recordable copy of this classic bedtime book. He loves the story, and the book is a nice way to stay connected to his cousins, who live in another state. He hears their voices almost every night before he goes to sleep.
2. When I Get Bigger by Mercer Mayer
Mayer was my favorite author when I was a young child, so we have several titles from his little critter series. This one, which chronicles the aspirations of a toddler, is my son's favorite.
3. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
When my older son, who’s a little shy when it comes to approaching strangers, climbed into the lap of a woman who was reading this story to her own son at the library, I knew it was a winner. My son loves the interactive flaps that allow him to help look for a lost puppy.
4. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
My son seems to love the simple illustrations in the book, which follows a bunny as he uses his imagination to turn an ordinary cardboard box into a mountain, a robot costume, a spaceship and more.
5. Fireman Small to the Rescue by Wong Herbert Yee
As simple as it sounds, this book kick started my son’s current obsession with firetrucks and helped him learn the words “helmet,” “siren,” and “axe.”
6. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
We don’t actually own this book yet, but my son has been requesting it since he came across it at his uncle’s house. The silly illustrations make him laugh while teaching him the meaning of opposites, such as near and far.
7. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
My son has always responded positively to this celebrated author’s books. This one helps him explore his body and expend those last few ounces of energy before bedtime.
8. Farm Friends by Anna Roan
A story about life on a farm, this sing-song book helped my son learn the names and sounds of the animals it features.
9. My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle
This action-packed book puts an ordinary father on a pedestal while comparing him to a dog, offering up the chance for children to establish a good sense of humor.
10. Trains by Byron Barton
One of our recent purchases, this book has quickly become my son’s current favorite. He really gets into counting the passengers and houses, and he’s learning concepts like under, over and through.