Favorite Books for Toddlers

Favorite Books for Toddlers
By Carolyn Brace
“Image courtesy of [Ambro] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Once upon a time I used to read books to my pregnant belly. Then I read to my tiny little babies while they snuggled in my arms. Soon those books were chewed on with great love. Before I knew it we were reading books at every meal (a great time to read since they are a captive audience) and now we are constantly nagging our 8 year old to put away her book at dinner and talk to us. I live in a house with five children who love to read. They are ages 8, 5, and 2. No, that doesn’t equal five kids, until I mention that I have three 2 year olds. Three opinionated 2 year olds. It is wonderful that they love books, but with that love comes strong opinions and definite favorites. With that, I thought I would share my 2 year olds’ latest favorites with the hope that your children will enjoy them too.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

This book really touches on the bedtime routine and nervousness children feel when they are alone in their rooms. I recommend reading it with a great amount of drama and theatrical skills. Yell and holler along with Llama as he wonders where his mamma has gone. My children also like to point out Llama’s stuffed llama as they too sleep with stuffed animals. They clearly see themselves in Llama.

The Neighborhood Sing – Along and When will Sarah Come

The first book is written and photographed by Nina Crews, while the second is written by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard and photographed by Nina Crews. You may have read books by Nina Crews’ father, Donald Crews and she has clearly inherited his talent and vision. My children have always loved real photographs of people in books. They like to see other children’s actions, expressions, and movements. The Neighborhood Sing –Along is a collection of favorite children’s songs with authentic, beautiful pictures of children. The only downside is that it is long and my children want to read every single page of the book: sometimes twice.

When Will Sarah Come is perfect for any child with an older sibling who attends school. It is the story of a little boy who wonders all day long when his sister, Sarah, will be coming home. Life just isn’t the same without her. Its repetitive nature has my children reading along with me and happily predicting the ending.

Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Who needs words? Good Night Gorilla has only a handful of words but that is all it needs to capture my children’s attention. They love saying goodnight to all the animals and gasping with delight when there is nothing on the page but the surprised eyes of the zookeepers wife. (Once again, being theatrical is a big plus). With three children reading at the same time we opted for the lap book sized version and it wore out after receiving heaps of love.

Grandpas are for Catching Worms by Harriet Zeifert

What child doesn’t like to lift the flaps of a book? Many lift the flap books have lost their flaps in this house, but either my children are becoming more gentle or this book is sturdier because it still has all it’s flaps intact. This delightful story gives us a chance to remember our grandpa, who lives 10 hours away and is not seen too often, and to talk about all the wonderful things we can do together as families. Harriet Zeifert is a fantastic author for young children and also has lift-the-flap books for mommies, daddies, brothers, sisters, grandmas, cousins, teachers and many holidays.

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley and Don’t let the Pigeon Ride the Bus by Mo Willems

What 2-year-old child doesn’t want power and control? In these books the children get to tell the monster to go away and tell the pigeon “NO!” as he constantly asks to drive the bus. After only a few readings my children were happily yelling “Go Away” and “No” at these engaging books that encourage audience participation. Another plus? My 5 year old can easily memorize them and “read” them to his younger siblings.

Last, but not least, books with your children as the main characters!



I use Shutterfly to create books with pictures of my children. Whether it’s a quick book with the pictures of all the people we love or a long journey through our memories of the holiday season, children love to see themselves and the people they love. What is more fun than a book about yourself?!

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again. The best way to teach your children to read is to read to them. So grab any book and enjoy! You’ll create a foundation that is priceless.