50 Books Parents Should Read to Their Toddlers

Study after study show us that reading to your kids from a young age helps them in countless ways. But as parents, reading the same books over and over can get a little boring! So I’ve compiled a list of 50 books that are fun for both toddlers and their parents. I’m leaving out many of the classics, like Goodnight Moon or Ferdinand the Bull – since you’ve probably already heard of them – to make room for new books for you to try.

-Kara a.k.a. Epic Engineer

  1. Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie Flack. Angus is a little dog who sneaks outside and chases the ducks…until they chase him back. This story is short and sweet, and your child will love Angus’s antics.
  2. Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. Soo Min is adopted from Korea into an American family. She struggles to adjust but immediately falls in love with her new cat, Goyangi. This simple story is filled with love and compassion for young Soo Min and her parents.
  3. Abuelo by Arthur Dorros. A young boy and his grandfather share many happy memories in the country until the boy’s family moves to the city. At first he is sad that he won’t see his grandfather as often but then he realizes that the lessons his grandfather taught him help him to adjust to his new home.
  4. A Fire Truck Named Red by Randall de Seve. Rowan wants a brand new fire truck for his birthday and is sad when all he gets is his grandfather’s old toy firetruck. But once he and his grandfather start to play with “Old Red,” the boy falls in love with his present.
  5. Raindrops: A Shower of Colors by Chieu Anh Urban. This is a super simple rhyming book about colors that your young toddler will just love!
  6. The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Doberman. With lots of rhymes, this book tells the tale of a mother who has seven children who are all extremely picky eaters. The mother is going crazy keeping up with all their food demands until they finally find one meal all the kids enjoy.
  7. Hush: A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho. A mother out in the country tells all the farm animals to hush so they won’t wake up her sleeping baby. By the time she finally gets all the animals to fall asleep, she is exhausted and takes a nap herself while her toddler wakes up and plays on his own.
  8. Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox. Hattie is a chicken who notices somebody in the bushes. She tells her animals friends but nobody listens to her – that is, not until she cries out that it’s a fox!
  9. Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald. Little Beaver is crying because he has no friends and is lonely. He hears another voice – the echo – crying too, and goes all around the lake looking for the voice. On his journey, he ends up making friends with a turtle, an otter, and a duck.
  10. Yo! Yes? This is a sweet story about two boys – one black, one white – who meet and become friends. Using one and two word exchanges, the simplicity of the story is engaging for toddlers.
  11. Each Living Thing by Joanne Ryder. This book is a beautifully illustrated reminder to children to be kind to animals and bugs.
  12. Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy by Jacky Davis. Ladybug Girl (Lulu) and Bumblebee Boy (Sam) go on imaginary adventures on their playground.
  13. The Thankful Book by Todd Parr. This book is a celebration of things that children can be thankful for, from bath time to special moments with their parents.
  14. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. A cap salesman can’t find anyone to buy his caps so he goes for a walk in the country and takes a nap. When he wakes up, monkeys have taken all of his caps!
  15. You’re One! by Karla Oceanak. This is a fun rhyming book about all of the things children can do when they’re one.
  16. I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom. This story goes through a year in the life of a bunny, from season to season.
  17. The Little Brute Family by Russell and Lillian Hoban. The Little Brute Family is grumpy all the time until Baby Brute finds a wandering lost good feeling that brightens up the whole family.
  18. Adventure on Klickitat Island by Hilary Horder Hippely. A boy and his bear wake up during a storm and go out in their boat to Klickitat Island to help build a shelter for all the wet animals.
  19. I Like It When… by Mary Murphy. An adult penguin and a young penguin do lots of things together that make them happy.
  20. The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown. A little fur child spends his day exploring the animals in the woods and visiting his grandpa, then goes home for dinner and bedtime.
  21. How the Sun was Brought Back to the Sky by Mirra Ginsburg. The sun has been gone for three days, so some chicks set out to find it and bring it back to the sky.
  22. More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams. Three toddlers are taken care of by their caregivers, who swing them around and shower them with affection.
  23. You Nest Here With Me by Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple. A mother tucks her child into bed and explains where different types of birds nest.
  24. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. This story goes through a day on a farm and shares what all the animals are doing.
  25. I Will Love You Forever by Caroline Jayne Church. This is a loving story about the neverending love between a parent and child.
  26. Barnyard Dance! by Sandra Boynton. Everybody sing along to the barnyard dance! Pigs, cows, and other animals are dancing in this fun rhyming book.
  27. Moonglow Roll O’Rama by Dav Pilkey. Animals roller skate at midnight in this fun tale.
  28. Morris Has a Cold by Bernard Wiseman. Morris the Moose is sick and his friend, Boris, tries to help him.
  29. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. Fruit bat Stellaluna is separated from her mother and is taken in by a family of birds.
  30. Be Who You Are by Todd Parr. This book has cute illustrations with a positive message to embrace your unique qualities.
  31. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers. Babies are born every day and this book shows a variety of families taking care of their babies in different ways.
  32. Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff. With adorable illustrations of a baby bear and his mother, this book goes through a day in their world and all the colors that they see.
  33. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Three owl babies wake up alone when their mother goes out to find them food. They’re worried that she might not come back but are brave until she returns.
  34. Sweet Dreams, Maisy by Lucy Cousins. Maisy and her friends have had a long day of play and now it’s time to go to bed.
  35. Rabbit’s Nap by Julia Donaldson. Rabbit wants to take a nap but all her friends are being noisy! This is a lift-the-flap book that your kids will love.
  36. Little Gorilla by Ruth Bernstein. Little Gorilla is loved by everyone in the forest. When he grows bigger and bigger, everyone still loves him and throws him a birthday party.
  37. Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats. Peter doesn’t know how to whistle to make his dog come. He practices and practices until he can finally do it!
  38. The Fairiest Fairy by Anne Booth. Betty the fairy can’t seem to do anything fairies are supposed to do. But her kindness ends up winning her the title of “fairiest fairy.”
  39. Margaret and Margarita by Lynn Reiser. Margaret speaks English and Margarita speaks Spanish but the two girls meet at the park and become friends anyway.
  40. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Roy and Silo were penguins at the zoo who were a little different but still wanted a family. With the help of a zookeeper, they got to have a baby penguin of their own.
  41. Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis. Two damselflies watch a plant grow from a shoot and build a tree fort.
  42. You Are My Work of Art by Sue DiCicco. This is a lift-the-flap book with illustrations of classic works of art.
  43. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada This is an inspirational story about a child who brings an idea into the world.
  44. Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin. Pete the Cat wears shoes that change colors as he steps in various items on his walk. There is also a fun (free) song you can download to go along with the book.
  45. The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall. A little boy asks everyone where babies come from and gets lots of different answers before his parents finally explain it to him in an age-appropriate way.
  46. Little Quack by Lauren Thompson. This counting book follow Little Quack and his siblings as they follow their mama in the pond.
  47. Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke. Jay Jay goes to his grannie’s for Sunday dinner, where everyone is full of love and tasty food.
  48. Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan. Little Owl wonders what daytime is like. His mother tells him all about the day but he falls asleep before he can experience it for himself.
  49. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. This is a new classic that kids have fallen in love with. Little Blue Trucks becomes friends with all the animals and helps rescue a big truck from the mud.
  50. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. This is a classic from 1941 but I’m adding it to the list because it’s not quite as well-known as some others like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is a story of a mother and father duckling who live in Boston and are beloved by the city folk and local police officers.

If you have some favorites of your own that didn’t make this list, add them in the comments below for other parents to find!

Kara Peterson

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