12 Best Books For Toddlers

Books to love reading together again and again.

Children are never too young to enjoy books - cuddling up and being read to, turning the pages, looking at the pictures, joining in the songs and rhymes. Reading to toddlers will help your child learn to talk - and before long they’ll be ‘reading’ familiar stories back to you with the same intonations. Super cute!

A bedtime story is a lovely way to end the day but you can share a book anytime, anywhere. Just try to make time every day and make it fun - for both of you.

ChristopherBernard via Getty Images

So what makes the best books for toddlers? Engaging pictures, a slightly anarchic naughty storyline, rhymes that are easily read and stick in the mind? Clare McGread, Early Years Programme Manager at the National Literacy Trust says: “Bright, engaging pictures full of different colours and shapes and images allow children’s vision to focus in and of different characters. That’s why picture books are so wonderful for young children.

“Rhymes are compelling for children.Through repetition they become aware of the sounds of words and what they mean, which also helps them to learn. Books with rhyming also work well for reading aloud, so you have the double engagement and enjoyment of parent and children.

“Books with naughty characters are also very exciting for toddlers, who are coming up against taboos and rules of behaviour in their lives and can enjoy seeing characters doing anything they want. It can be cathartic for them seeing naughtiness and consequences - and it’s funny too. Dirty Bertie is a wonderful book with a repetitive chorus (”That’s dirty, Bertie”) about a little boy who eats sweets he finds on the pavement, picks his nose and licks the dog.

“Children enjoy books in three different ways: the world of the book; how the story has parallels to their own life and wondering what can happen next. That’s why it’s good to break off for different talking points as you read, like what might happen next or if anything like this has happened to them.

“And don’t forget non-fiction. Books about different animals and their habitats are often a huge hit. A good book is one that stimulates your toddler and invites their curiosity.”

Weekend Images Inc. via Getty Images

BookTrust has these top tips for introducing your toddler to the wonderful world of books.

  • Sit close together when sharing a book and encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.

  • Use funny voices – it’s a great way to make your child giggle. And don’t be shy about singing either – they won’t care whether or not you sing in tune or know the words!

  • When you talk to your child about what’s going on in a book, give them plenty of time to respond. Try to ask questions that don’t require just yes or no answers. For example, ask them what they think will happen next ask or about how a character might be feeling

  • Sharing books isn’t just about the words - point to the pictures and relate them to something your child knows.

Here are a selection of books your toddler will love. (Bonus for parents: these reads won’t leave you bored silly when you read them again and again and again.) Enjoy!

Rachael Porter via Getty Images
I Want My Potty
The Little Princess hates nappies, and thinks there must be something better. At first she thinks the Royal potty is even worse - but she learns to love it. This book is especially appealing to children who are potty training - and their parents! The first in the series of Little Princess books.
Princess Smartypants
Princess Smartypants does not want to get married. She enjoys being a Ms. But being a rich and pretty princess means that all the princes want her to become their wife. Princess Smartypants fights to preserve her independence in this hilarious twist on the fairy-tale tradition and stereotypical dull princesses. The late Babette Cole is a deserved favourite among parents. Prince Cinders is excellent too.
Room on the Broom
From former Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and longtime collaborator illustrator Axel Scheffler comes this much-loved tale about a witch and her gang of friends. While flying with her cat on her broomstick, the wind blows a witch's hat from her head. Luckily, a friendly dog rescues it and, as a reward, is invited to travel with them on the broom. Throughout the tale, she encounters a series of other characters who each help the witch to recover various possessions that she loses along the way - but will there be enough room on the broom for them all? Expressive illustrations and rhythmical reading from the creators of The Gruffalo and many more favourites.
Aliens Love Underpants
Underpants are a source of humour whatever your reading age, even, it appears, when it comes to aliens. Careful examination of the pictures reveals that these aliens are totally obsessed by underpants, dropping from spacecraft to nab them. So that's what happens to all those missing pants in your home!
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Sophie and her Mummy are having tea in the kitchen when in walks a hungry tiger who asks to stay to tea. After eating everything, he moves on to Daddy's supper and cleans out the fridge and drinks all the water from the tap.This simple (and anarchic) l picture book from Judith Kerr is a true classic with an enduring appeal for children and parents. Just don't let your toddler try drinking tea from the teapot spout like my sister did!
Where the Wild Things Are
When Max puts on his wolf suit and shouts at his mother, he is sent to his room without any supper. But then, his bedroom turns into a magical world and he sets sail across the sea to where the wild things are and becomes King of the Wild Things.First published in 1963, this classic picture book by Maurice Sendak evokes the imagination of childhood.
We're Going On A Bear Hunt
Follow a father and his family as they go out in search of a bear. They wade through the grass, splash through the river, squelch through the mud and even negotiate a snowstorm on their way. But what will they find in the cave on the other side of the dark forest? Michael Rosen's repetitive text has a musical charm that lends itself perfectly to reading aloud, and children enjoy joining in with actions and words.
When Mum Turned Into A Monster
The cousins are coming to tea and Mum is busy cleaning, shopping and cooking. Sam and his sister are no help at all; they just bicker and whinge and create even more mess. Meanwhile, something very strange is happening to Mum. Look for the clues in the pictures!
I Love You, Blue Kangaroo
Every night Blue Kangaroo falls fast asleep, cuddled in Lily's arms. But as new toy animals start arriving, Blue Kangaroo worries that there just isn't enough room for him anymore. When he goes missing, Lily looks everywhere for him and it turns out NONE of the other toys mean as much to her as her first and favourite Blue Kangaroo.
Daddy's Sandwich
Pip Jones
Daddy, would you like a sandwich, with all your favourite things...? One little girl is one a quest to make her father the perfect sandwich made of some rather unusual things. What would you put in your dad's sandwich?
Not Now, Bernard
Bernard's got a problem. He's found a monster in the back garden but his mum and dad are just too busy to notice. So Bernard tries to befriend the monster… and that doesn't go quite to plan. Loved by children and adults for nearly 40 years, David McKee's iconic picture book still resonates for children who know only too well what it feels like not to have their parents' full attention.
Willy The Wimp
Willy wouldn't hurt a fly - he even apologises when someone hits him. The suburban gorillas call him Willy the Wimp. Then, one day, Willy answers a body-building advert ... with hilarious results! Willy is the star of several more book by multiple-award-winning author-illustrator Anthony Browne.