The 14 Best Toddler Books For A Fun And Engaging Reading Session

best toddler books

Reading with your toddler is one of the underestimated joys of parenting. Cuddling up with a fun story is a great way to bond with your youngster and incredibly helpful for their language development and other cognitive skills.

This study from 2013 on the importance of the home literacy environment (HLE) found a ‘positive association between literacy-based parent-child interactions and children’s language production.’ 

This study, published in 2012, points out how literacy activities in the home are one of the most critical factors in children gaining skills that will help them excel in school. 

The second study points out a correlation between a rich home literacy environment, quality home literacy practices, and early literacy skills development.’

Evidence emphasizes the importance of early reading, but where do you start? Can you read any book to your toddler? What makes for a great toddler book? Is there a difference between suitable books for toddlers and preschoolers or kindergarteners?

In general, the best toddler books are those with large, colorful illustrations that stand out and minimal text. 

Reading with your toddler is an opportunity to help them become familiar with sounds and word associations, so the text is best kept simple and minimal.

best toddler books

Best toddler books

Below you’ll find early board books, rhyming books, and picture books for toddlers with minimal text and beautiful illustrations.

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most popular children’s books. 

Author and illustrator Eric Carle is a renowned children’s book creator, and this book, first published in 1969, has stood the test of time.

This sweet story follows a caterpillar coming out of his egg to meet a new day. This caterpillar is very hungry. No matter how much he eats, he can’t seem to satisfy his hunger until he overeats and gets a stomach ache!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is simple yet packed with new things to learn. 

The story moves through the days of the week, numbers, and different types of food in an easy-to-read format, making it a versatile teaching tool to develop your young loved one’s vocabulary.

2. Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim and LeUyen Pham

Whose Toes are Those by author Jabari Asim and illustrator Le Uyen Pham is a fun board book with rhyming text and sweet, simple illustrations. 

Perfect for counting numbers and playing the classic ‘Little Piggy.’ – this book is sure to make reading a fun time with plenty of giggles for parents and kids alike.

Ten little toes, all in a row

Whose toes are those, do you know?

3. Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk

Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk offers a beautiful, charming, and sweet bedtime story that will warm your heart. 

Kulu, a sleepy newborn, receives an abundance of gifts from the animals of the Arctic.

Gorgeous illustrations of Snow Buntings, Hares, Foxes, and Polar Bears make for a visually-appealing board book that will lead your toddler’s eyes all over each page.

4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr

Beloved children’s book author Bill Martin Jr offers a children’s book that is perfect for toddlers. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a fun, upbeat tale about the letters of the alphabet as they all try to climb a coconut tree.

It makes for a great introduction to the alphabet, using rhyme, rhythmic text, and bold colors to catch and engage children’s attention. 

Is there enough room in the coconut tree for all the letters?

5. Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press Here by Herve Tullet is a fun, interactive book that your toddler will love. 

The book begins with a simple yellow dot and instructions to press it. Pressed, we turn the page to find that pressing the yellow dot creates two dots. We press again and make three on the next page. We rub the dot on the left to change its color, and so on.

The book continues with interactive instructions guaranteed to get laughs, giggles, and excitement out of your toddler and you too! 

This clever concept helps toddlers learn about colors, numbers, directions, and how to follow instructions. 

Dots multiply, change color, and position on the page in response to your toddler’s interactions, making it one of the most engaging and immersive interactive children’s books on this list.

6. Goodnight Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad must drive home, but a nighttime storm makes the journey hard. 

Fortunately, Toad and Little Blue have plenty of friends keen to help. 

Goodnight Little Blue Truck is a favorite among parents looking for bedtime books, but the Little Blue Truck series isn’t just for bedtime. 

The series contains nine books exploring themes such as friendship, school, holidays, and more. 

With colorful illustrations and plenty to look at on each page, Alice Schertle Goodnight Little Blue trick is a sweet bedtime story to read to your toddler as they get ready.

7. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon was first published in 1947 and has since become one of the beloved bedtime stories for children.

‘Good night room, goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over the moon..’

Cuddle up with your little one and say goodnight to all the creatures and objects in the great green room before sleep. Toddlers will love the colorful pictures and hearing you read the rhyming text.

Goodnight Moon is also a fantastic book for engaging kids with what they see. 

You and your toddler can search the page for the ‘two little kittens’ and ‘pair of mittens,’ the little toy house, and the young mouse. 

As the room and the world outside gets ready for bed, we say goodnight to the moon, the kittens, the mittens, and of course, the bright moon and the cow jumping over it!

8. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr

Another classic from renowned children’s book author Bill Martin Jr. In this book, the narrator asks various colorful animals and people what they see in rhyming text.

As we turn each page of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, we see what the last animal saw.

The illustrations in this book are simple yet rich. We see a vibrant red bird, a bright green frog, and a handsome blue horse, all featuring exciting textures, with one image of each animal covering a full two-page spread.

9. The Wonderful Things You’ll Be by Emily Winfield Martin

The Wonderful Things You’ll Be by Emily Winfield Martin is a touching, heart-warming picture book about the loving sentiments we have for our young children. 

The text is short, rhyming, and minimal. Illustrations are colorful and contrast the mainly white background of the book.

The book’s message is that your young loved one has a lot of potentials to become whatever they want, but that no matter what they do in their life, you’ll love them unconditionally.

10. If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Paul

If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Paul is the perfect snuggle-up and cozy bedtime story for young readers. 

Perfect for all toddlers but especially those who are particularly fond of animals. 

With enchanting, watercolor illustrations featuring an array of colorful and friendly animals kissing each other good night, this book is a gentle bedtime tale that your little one will adore.

11. Where’s the Poop? by Julie Markes

Everybody poops, and everybody has to learn sometime. Where’s the Poop? by author Julie Markes and illustrator Susan Kathleen Hartung helps your young toddler do just that. 

Potty training can be difficult for most toddlers and parents alike, so a book like this may be just what you need. 

Playful, engaging, and interactive, ‘Where’s the Poop?’ adds a touch of fun to potty training. 

The story’s message is that, like the tiger poops in the jungle, monkeys in the rainforest, and kangaroos in the outback, everybody has their place to poop. For your little one, it’s the potty.

best toddler books

12. 100 First Words for Toddlers by Jayme Yannuzzi

Help your toddler build their vocabulary with 100 First Words for Toddlers by Jayme Yannuzzi. 

A simple book with easy-to-learn words and clear pictures, this is a valuable resource for your child’s developing literacy skills. 

This is not a storybook but a book of single words, which means you can start reading this with your infant. The 100 words are simple, such as cat, ball, hat, and cup, and become more complex with words like umbrella and bookshelf. 

The book opens with helpful advice on how to teach 100 words to your toddler simply and effectively.

13. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Sometimes your little one may feel worried around bedtime. Many toddlers find it challenging to sleep alone and need our comfort to drift off. 

Llama Llama Red Pajama is a helpful bedtime book about a Llama who gets tucked in by his Llama mama, only to feel worried when she leaves the room. 

The book helps toddlers realize there’s nothing to worry about by reassuring them that we, parents, are never far, even at night! 

Fun illustrations and rhyming text make this board book an enjoyable nighttime read before sleep.

14. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

First published in 1960, Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish has sold over six million copies since, making it one of the bestselling children’s books of all time. 

This is one of the longest books on the list and may be more suited to children of slightly older reading age, but the rhyming text and rich, bold colors make the book incredibly appealing and engaging for toddlers. 

You and your kids will enjoy the silly and engaging illustration as you read the fun rhymes from this children’s classic.

What makes a great toddler book?

What makes the books on this list so appropriate for toddlers? 

Aside from the fun stories, the rhyming, the simple text, and the beautiful illustrations, these books are beneficial for expanding your little one’s vocabulary and getting them ready for the school years. 

These books are:

1. Age-appropriate

Aimed at children aged 0-3, these books are for toddlers to enjoy.

Books aimed at older readers may be lost on your toddler with themes that are not relevant to their stage of development. 

Instead, the best toddler books focus on themes that apply to toddlers, such as bedtime routines, cooperation, and identifying what they see.

2. Toddler-proof

Board books are appropriate for toddlers because they may not understand the value of the physical object. 

Paperbacks are likely to get damaged as your loved one explores not only the book’s contents but the pages’ texture and durability. While a board book isn’t indestructible, it’s more likely to last through the toddler years than a paperback.

3. Educational

Reading these books with your little loved one will be a wonderful, joyous experience for you and will mean the world to them. 

Not only will they spark your toddler’s curiosity with interesting pictures to look at, but they also offer valuable lessons on understanding the world, such as differences between people and the importance of helping each other. 

The sentimental value of this experience means that these books will be remembered, and the educational and emotional lessons within will have a lasting impact on your child’s development.


We hope you enjoy reading these excellent books with your young budding reader. 

For best results, be patient with your little loved one as they explore noises and sounds, learn word associations, and get excited about turning pages. 

These toddler years are challenging, especially for new parents, but they fly by so fast that it’s wise to find as much joy and fun in them as possible, and these books will help you do just that!

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