The Best Books for Toddlers to Develop Their Love of Reading

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is our top pick for fostering a love of reading

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Cozying up next to your toddler to read a book or two every day isn’t just good for your relationship, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it’s also good for their language, cognitive, and social-emotional development. In fact, the AAP believes the more frequently kids are read to, the better, so it’s a good idea to have a home library of books for you and your tot to read together.

Reviewed & Approved

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a fun and classic story about alphabet letters trying to make their way up a coconut tree. For an entire book set, we recommend Pooh’s Library Original Four Volume Set.

While it's absolutely okay to fill your little one's library with books that are just for fun, adding in educational options (such as books that showcase the alphabet, colors, or animals) will help them learn new skills and concepts. We carefully considered age recommendations, storylines, design, and value when reviewing products.

Here are the best toddler books to keep reading fun, spark new interests, and bond with a caregiver.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Courtesy of Amazon

Our top pick, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, is an educational and fun read telling the story of alphabet letters trying to make their way up a coconut tree. Each letter climbs up one by one as the story is told through catchy rhymes and natural rhythms. It’s an upbeat book to read to your little ones and a great way to introduce them to the alphabet

Pooh’s Library Original Four Volume Set

Pooh's Library set

Courtesy of Amazon

Winnie the Pooh is one of the most beloved characters in children's literature, and you can read all about his adventures with this four-book set. With Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six, your tots will fall in love with the sweet-voiced honey bear. Each book is full of original-art pictures your toddler will love as much as the story itself. 

Poke-a-Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm

Poke-a-Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm

Courtesy of Amazon

Melissa and Doug are famous for making smart, interactive toys for little kids, and this book is no different. The 20-page book is full of buttons toddlers can click and pop as they read through the story about the animals at Old MacDonald’s farm. The board book is perfect for tots 3 years old and up.

Never Feed a Yeti Spaghetti

Never Feed a Yeti Spaghetti

Courtesy of BAM (Books a Million)

This fun story seemingly teaches kids never to give scary animals tasty snacks. Except there is a twist; this book is designed to do just the opposite.

Each page features a different animal, like a yeti, cheetah, and llama, with an open mouth and felt teeth so little ones can pretend to feed them. It’s a sweet, interactive children’s book that your kid will love to read with you. 

Press Here

Press Here

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Press Here is one of the most fun interactive books that will get your tot thinking critically, identifying colors, and learning about cause and effect. Each page features more and more dots and kids are instructed to press, shake, and tilt the book to get them moving. Available as either hardback or board book, this title is best for kids between 4 and 8 years old.  

Good Night, Little Blue Truck

Good Night, Little Blue Truck

Courtesy of Amazon

The Little Blue Truck is a bedtime favorite for kiddos. The truck and his friend, Toad, are trying to get home at night but a storm has come through and travel is getting harder and harder. Eventually, more friends show up and help them make their journey. 

World of Eric Carle, Hear Bear Roar

World of Eric Carle, Hear Bear Roar

Courtesy of Amazon

Hear Bear Roar is an interactive book that will introduce your toddler to 30 different animal sounds. With buttons along the side, your little reader will get a kick out of pressing each one and hearing the different sounds. The story is the perfect length to hold your toddler's fleeting attention and is packed full of educational material.

We All Belong A Children's Book About Diversity, Race and Empathy

We All Belong A Children's Book About Diversity, Race and Empathy

Courtesy of Amazon

It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about the differences in people, but you want to keep the conversation age-appropriate so that it doesn’t go over their heads. We All Belong is a great way to introduce (or further educate) your toddler to the topic. It’s a rhyming poem made into a story that focuses on multi-cultural inclusion and the celebration of differences. 

Mix It Up

Mix It Up

Courtesy of Amazon

Perfect for kids between 3 and 7 years old, Mix It Up! is an interactive book that instructs kids to smash, swirl, and mix colorful dots on the pages and see the result on the next page. It will teach them cause and effect, strengthen color identification skills, and activate their imagination.  

In My Heart A Book Of Feelings

In My Heart A Book Of Feelings

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Toddlers have big feelings that they don’t always know what to do with, and this book helps teach them about those different emotions so they can start to identify them. It addresses bravery, happiness, anger, shyness, and more. As they read along, parents and toddlers will have a chance to start talking about feelings and enjoy a fun story in the process. 

A is for Activist

A is for Activist

Courtesy of Amazon

Even toddlers can change the world by speaking out and standing up for what they believe in, and this book helps to reaffirm that message. A is for Activist touches on environmental causes, civil rights, LGBTQ+ and multicultural inclusion, and all kinds of other causes—while also teaching the ABCs. 

Dinosaur Dance!

Dinosaur Dance!

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

No toddler library is complete without at least one Sandra Boynton board book, and Dinosaur Dance! is a wonderful choice. The story touches on color, names different dinosaurs, and rhymes all the way through. You’ll find yourself loving it as much as your toddler does. 

Goodnight Moon

Good Night Moon
Photo © Amazon

Goodnight Moon is a classic children’s book that makes a wonderful bedtime story. With every turn of a page, you and your tot say goodnight to everyone and everything in the story as you prepare them to snuggle up in bed for the night.

The Monster at the End of This Book

The Monster at the End of This Book

Courtesy of Amazon

Your kiddo doesn’t have to be a fan of Sesame Street to love this book, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if they know Grover already. On every page, Grover warns them that there is a monster at the end of the book, and they need to stop turning the pages because they get closer and closer to the monster each time.

He builds walls, begs, and pleads to try to get you to stop turning pages, but there’s no doubt your toddler’s curiosity about the monster will only grow as the story goes on. 

Peek-A-Who?

Peek-A-Who?

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

Younger toddlers will have a blast reading through this short rhyming story. Throughout, your child will curiously wonder who is peeking out at them. By the time they get to the last page, they’ll be laughing as they see a mirror with their own face looking back at them.

Final Verdict

Any book you can give or read to a toddler is a good book, so you really can’t go wrong with anything on this list. If you’re looking for home-library staples, though, every toddler needs Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Goodnight Moon in their collection.  

What to Look for in Books for Toddlers

Age-Appropriateness

Choosing titles that are appropriate for your toddler's age group can ensure that they actually enjoy the story. Books for older kids may include complicated storylines and concepts that simply aren't interesting for little ones.

Durability

To help foster a love for reading, allowing your tot open access to their books is important. So you'll want to reach for hardcover or board books as they are more likely to hold up against your toddler's rough handling.

Educational Value

While it is totally okay to stock your little one's library with books that are just for fun, adding in educational options (such as books that showcase the alphabet, colors, or animals) will help them learn new skills and concepts and prepare for preschool and kindergarten.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should my 2-year-old know how to read?

    No, you should not expect a 2-year-old to know how to read. Some children begin to read at age 4 or 5, but most won’t until they reach age 6 or 7.

    However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start to lay the groundwork now. Choose a book that will hold your toddler’s interest and follow the text with your finger as you read. This will help them begin to associate how a word looks with what it sounds like, even if they are a long way from reading independently.

    But the most important thing you can do in order to establish a lifelong love of reading is to let your toddler simply enjoy books and being read to.

  • How can I tell if a book is developmentally appropriate?

    If a book is not developmentally appropriate, it’s unlikely that your toddler will even let you finish it before wriggling off of your lap and wandering away. Too much text or a plot that goes beyond their comprehension will not keep them engaged for long.

    Most toddlers enjoy books that feature the things that they love and teach them about the world that they live in. Look for books with repetition and rhyme and bright, bold pictures. 

  • Are audiobooks good for toddlers?

    Yes, audiobooks are good for toddlers. Research shows that listening to audiobooks can help improve your child’s literacy, broaden their vocabulary and even boost their emotional wellbeing. Sound effects and an engaging narrator can all play a part in kick-starting your toddler's love of stories.

    However, that doesn't mean you should forgo reading physical books altogether. It is important that your toddler sees that you enjoy reading too and that reading is something you can enjoy together. Reading to your toddler means that they can stop and ask a question and pause to look at the pictures, both of which helps build their comprehension.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a staff and freelance writer who covers lifestyle, home, parenting, and commerce for a variety of platforms. She’s a mom to 1-year-old and 4-year-old daughters and an aunt to 3 nieces and 2 nephews ranging from 5 to 11 years old. In addition to regularly scouring the internet to find the best things for herself, Ashley spends multiple hours a week researching, comparing, and writing about products specifically for kids and families.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents who read to their children nurture more than literary skills.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Helping your child learn to read.

  3. Cahill M, Moore J. A sound history: Audiobooks are music to children’s ears. Children and Libraries. 2017;15(1):22-29.