The 10 Best Books for Toddlers

By Kara Reynolds | Nov 24, 2021

Reading aloud to your toddler is one of the best activities you can do with them. It’s a great way to bond and spend time with your child, and studies have shown reading boosts cognitive development. The activity can also help your toddler decompress after a stressful time at day care or during transition times at home.

You likely already have some great books at home, or maybe you like to keep things fresh by going to your local library. We hope this booklist has a title or two that’s unfamiliar that you’ll want to add to your child’s reading list. 

This list contains a mix of classics and recent hits and stories that teach diversity and inclusion. Here are the ten best books for toddlers.  

  1. “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats

Best for ages 1-2.

A 1962 Caldecott Award winner, “The Snowy Day” gorgeously captures all the wonder and delight a child has when playing in the snow. The book’s Black protagonist, named Peter, was one of the first non-caricatured Black people to debut in a children’s book. “The Snowy Day” withstands the test of time and would make a great addition to any home library.

  1.  “But Not the Hippopotamus” by Sandra Boynton

Best for ages 2-5.

Do you have any Sandra Boynton books in your child’s library? If not, this title is a great place to start. It features a shy hippo who sits sadly watching the other animals play. By the end of the book, the hippo joins the other animal friends, and all is well. 

  1.  “Brown Brown, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr.

Best for ages 2-5

This classic book introduces young toddlers to various animals with an engaging rhyme. Eric Carle’s stunning illustrations will keep your tot’s eyes glued to each page. 

  1.  “The Rabbit Listened” by Cori Doerrfeld

Best for ages 3-5.

This sweet tale is about a boy who builds a tower, watches it fall and goes to his animal friends for comfort. The only one to help the boy is the rabbit, the friend who listened — a good lesson for your toddler and a reminder for parents alike.

  1.  “Press Here” by Herve Tullet

Best for ages 3-5.

In this digital age where it seems at times your toddler knows how to use your phone better than you, having a book that’s as engaging as a screen is a major sell. “Press Here” is wildly interactive and imaginative.

  1.  “Mommy, Mama and Me or Daddy, Papa and Me” by Lesléa Newman

Best for ages 3-5. 

It can be challenging to find LGBTQ+ representation in children’s literature. Lesléa Newman does much to remedy this with these titles. Both feature a simple plot, charming rhymes and sweet illustrations about a child’s day with same-sex parents. This is a great addition to any toddler’s library. 

  1.  “It’s Okay to Be Different” by Todd Parr

Best for ages 3-6.

Teaching diversity and inclusion to your child at an early age allows you to nurture these essential values as they grow. “It’s Okay to Be Different” introduces unique characters and goes to great lengths to affirm and celebrate each individual. Toddlers enjoy this book and learn to model this behavior, too. 

  1.  “Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman

Best for ages 4-6. 

Add a little nonfiction to your toddler’s bookshelf with this book about four Black female mathematicians working at NASA during the age of the space race. Your child will learn about the accomplishments of these four women while experiencing racism and sexism in the workplace within the larger context of the civil rights movement. Engaging illustrations make history come alive for toddlers and hold their attention as you read. 

  1. “Julián is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love

Best for ages 4-6. 

Julián loves mermaids — so much so that he hones his creativity to make an entire costume look just like one. A wonderful tale about gender identity promoting self-expression and acceptance through gorgeous illustrations. 

  1. “This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World” by Matt Lamothe

Best for ages 4-6.

This book is a great way to introduce your toddler to different cultures and customs from around the world. Featuring a day in the life of children from seven countries — India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, Russia and Uganda — this book will be eye-opening for you and your toddler alike.

Build Your Toddler’s Library and Their Brain

Each of these titles is an excellent addition to your toddler’s library. One of them is likely to be your child’s new favorite.

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