50+ Favorite Books for Babies and Toddlers

My friend who has a little girl the same age as mine recently asked for some book recommendations for toddlers, so I thought I'd share a few of my little girl's favorites. My daughter just barely turned two. Like most toddlers, she can't sit through books with a lot of text, and she loves books that are hands on in some way. Below are some books that she enjoys.

Touch-and-feel Books

When my babies first began to be interested in books, it was the touch-and-feel books that really engaged them. Here are a few of our favorites in this category:
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. This is a classic touch and feel book that is one of my daughter's all-time favorites
  • My Pretty Pink Alphabet Purseby Tim Bugbird (and there are others in this series as well). This is a toy as well as a book. My daughter loves that she can carry this book around like a real purse.
  • That's Not My... Books by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells. We have read many books in this series such as That's Not My Monkey, That's Not My Bunny, That's Not My Snowman, and That's Not My Train. All of my kids have loved these because there is something to touch and feel on each page
  • In My... Books by  Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich. Once again, we have several books in this series, such as In My Flower, In My Nest, and In My Ocean. My kids love the little puppet in the back of each book.
Lift-the-flap Books

I have a love-hate relationship with lift-the-flap books because my kids really enjoy them, but at the same time, I always have to repair broken flaps. However, with a lot of clear tape, we have managed to make several favorite lift-the-flap books last through three children. Here are some that my kids liked:
  • Peek-A Who?  By Nina Laden. This book is short and sweet and adorable. My daughter sleeps with it every night. It is one of those books my kids loved so much that we needed to buy a replacement copy because it became so worn.
  • Where's Spot?  By Eric Hill (and other Spot books). My daughter loves dogs, so of course this classic lift-the-flap book is one of her favorites.
  • Where Is Baby's... books by Karen Katz. This author has published some adorable lift-the-flap books, such as Where Is Baby? , Where Is Baby's Belly Button?, and Where Is Baby's Valentine? My daughter enjoyed all of them. For some reason it seems that young kids and babies always are interested in pictures of other babies.
  • Noisy Peek-a-book books by DK Publishing such as Woof! Woof!  and Vroom! Vroom! Not only do these books have flaps to lift,  they also have noises that are made when you lift the correct flap on each page. As a parent, I don't usually like books that have too many lights and sounds, but my kids like these and these books just have one simple sound per page and so they are not too annoying :)
Wordless Picture Books

Neither of the following have words, but they have great illustrations that tell a story. These are good books to help build vocabulary and oral expression with your child. Since there is no text you are forced to actually have a conversation about what is happening on the page. My daughter will point out the things she likes, or I might ask her to point to something or tell me something about what is on the page.
  • A Ball for Daisy  by Chris Raschka. If your child loves dogs, as mine does, then you must check out this adorable Caldecott Award-winning book.
  • Un-Brella  by Scott Franson. This is a whimsical, fun book about a girl with a magical umbrella.
One-Word Books

The following books are based primarily on just one word, but they still tell fun stories with that one word. Before you know it, your two-year-old will be "reading" these book on her own! It gives my kids a sense of independence to be able to pick up these books and "read" them.
  • Hug, Tall, and Yes by Jez Alborough. My daughter loves the adorable monkey in this series of one-word-books.
  • Higher! Higher!  and Faster! Faster!  by Leslie Patricelli. These cute books really show the special parent-child relationship. In the first the little girl swings so high she even reaches outer space :) We also like  Yummy Yucky by the same author.
  • Banana! by Ed Vere. I am not a huge fan of the illustrations in this book, but all three of my kids think it is funny.

These are few "classics" that are favorites of my daughter's. There is a reason these books have stood the test of time.
  • Over the Moon (a collection of three great books--Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and My World), by Margaret Wise Brown. We read this book almost every night because all of my kids love it!
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews. All of my kids love trains and this is a perfect book to not only show cool illustrations of a train but also teach colors.
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter--There are many versions out there of this classic tale. We have checked out several different board book versions from the library as well as reading the original full-length tale. The original version actually has a little more text than my two-year-old can usually sit through, but she just adores this classic tale.
  • Eric Carle books--I don't think any child's library could be complete without at least some Eric Carle books. My kids' favorites are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Other Interactive Books

If your toddlers are anything like mine, then they will love pop-up books and books with interactive pieces. I have to be careful with these books, though, so that they don't get damaged by little hands.
  • Pop-up Bug Books by David A Carter--Some that we have checked out from the library include How Many Bugs in a Box?  and Halloween Bugs. My kids all love opening up the little doors on each page to discover the pop-up bugs.
  • Beautiful Oops!  by Barney Saltzberg--I love the message behind this book. Whenever you make a "mistake" in your art, you can just turn it into a "beautiful oops!" and make something amazing!
  • The Jolly Postman by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg--This book with real letters to open is one of my daughter's favorites. She loves seeing what is inside the envelopes on each page. (And  we also love Each Peach Pear Plum by the same authors).
  • Swing!Gallop!, and Waddle! by Rufus Butler Seder--These have very cool illustrations that actually move when you turn the pages.
  • The Cheerios Christmas Play Book  and The Cheerios Animal Play Book by Lee Wade--These books are more toys than stories, but my daughter loves lining up the cheerios with the illustrations on each of the pages in these books.
  • Treasure Hunt for Boys  and Treasure Hunt for Girls  by Roger Priddy--My daughter adores these simple search and find books. We have the boy version and sometimes I will go through it with her asking her to find certain objects hidden in each picture. But it is also one that she loves to pick up on her own and look at all by herself.
Board Books

There are so many board books to choose from but my daughter loves board books and will usually choose them over other books at the library because they are easy to find and are the right size for her little hands. Here are a few simple board books that my daughter loves.
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann--My kids love this book in which the animals in the zoo escape and follow the zookeeper home.
  • Beach Babies Wear Shades  by Michelle Sinclair --Maybe it's because she really is a "beach baby" living in Southern California, but my daughter has always adored this cute book. There are also other similar books by this author.
  • Hush Little Baby  by Sylvia Long--This is a twist on the classic "Hush Little Baby" song--instead of being about the parent buying the child things, it is more about enjoying the simple natural beauties in the world. But of course I still sing it to the classic tune when I read the book.
  • Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan--My daughter has picked this one up from the library several times. The words are kind of silly--which is probably why she likes it--it sounds fun to her ears.
  • Little Quack Books by Lauren Thompson and Derek Anderson, such as Little Quack Counts  and Little Quack's Opposites --These are very simple books, but ones that my two year old always seems to gravitate towards at the library.
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Board Book by Eileen Christelow. This author has created a whole series of adorable five little monkey books that my daughter loves.
  • Guess How Much I Love You  by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram--A sweet book about expressing love. I all sometimes use actions when reading this story. We stretch our arms out and jump up high with the bunnies for some fun.
  • Octopus Opposites --My daughter likes the bright illustrations in this ocean-themed book about opposites.
  • Sandra Boynton board books such as Moo Baa La La La
Note: Some books are available as both board books and regular picture books. When the story in the board book and regular book are identical, I will always choose the board book because it is more durable. However, some board books are condensed versions of the regular books, i.e., the board book versions of Caps for Sale  and Ten Apples Up On Top! are missing parts I like, so if I want the complete story of those books I will choose the full-size picture book.

Other Picture Books

Below are a few more favorite picture books--some we own, others we discovered through the library, but all are books that my two-year-old loves. They all have short enough text (maybe a sentence or so per page) so that my toddler can sit through them.
  • The Quiet Book  by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska--The creative expressions and gentle pictures work together to make this a fun book for my daughter but also a book I love as a parent and don't mind reading over and over.
  • Laura Numeroff Books, such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie --My kids always enjoy the books in the "If You Give..." series by Laura Numeroff. The illustrations are cute and the stories make us laugh.
  • Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever. This is the one book on this list that you can not sit down and read cover to cover with a two-year-old, but it is nice change from your typical "My First Words" books because while vocabulary words are taught, a story is also told.
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer--This is hilarious story that is sort of like the old lady who swallowed a fly--but in reverse. A woman takes her dog to the veterinarian because he is not barking properly and the veterinarian pulls all sorts of animals out of the dog's mouth. It is silly and absurd, and so that's why my kids love it.
  • The Monster at the End of this Book  by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin--we also have this on the ipad, and this book makes both my toddler and older kids laugh.
  • Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho and Holly Meade--I love the beautiful illustrations in this jungle peek-a-boo book.
  • Baby Danced the Polka  by Karen Beaumont and Jennifer Plecas--This is a charming book about a silly baby who just will not go to sleep. It will make you and your kids smile. It's one we checked out from the library that my daughter begged to read again and again.
  • Kiki's Blankie by Janie Bynum--This is yet another monkey-themed book. In this a cute little monkey uses her blankie in all sorts of pretend games. Then, when she has to face a crocodile, she gets the courage she needs because of her favorite blankie.
  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale  by Mo Willems--This is a book that stars a little toddler, so of course my little girl likes it. But it makes me laugh just as much as a parent.
  • Silly Sally  by Audrey Wood--Kids always love books in which the characters are doing silly things and the main character in this book is definitely hilarious.
Of course every child is different--these happen to be books my little two-year-old likes at this moment. We are constantly adding to this list because we visit the library at least once or twice a week, and we are always finding new favorites. If you don't know what your baby or toddler might like, take them to the library and let them pick out their own books. Some people think libraries are just for older kids--but not so. Our local library is very baby friendly--It has soft toys for the babies to play with and a section with easy-to-find board books. My independent two-year-old has loved picking out her own books since she was old enough to walk.

I would love it if any readers would also comment with their favorite books for babies and toddlers so we can check out some more great books!

Also, check out my list of favorite books for preschoolers, as my 2-year-old is starting to love some of the books on that list as well.

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Chelsea said...

Great post!! Now I won't just grab ramdom not so interesting books at the lib!!

Chelsea said...

Great post!! Now I won't just grab ramdom not so interesting books at the lib!!

Rachel said...

You're welcome! But sometimes some of the random picks have been our favorites, so it's still fun to let your child pick up those random ones, too :)