The 15 Best Books for Toddlers of 2021

Stories that will make them look forward to bedtime

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Our Top Picks

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. at Amazon

"The story of alphabet letters climbing up a tree, each letter climbs up one by one as the story is told through catchy rhymes."

Pooh’s Library Original Four Volume Set by A.A. Milne at shop.scholastic.com

"Read all about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh with this four-book set, full of original-art pictures."

Old MacDonald’s Farm by Melissa & Doug at Amazon

"The 20-page book is full of buttons toddlers can click and pop as they read through about the animals at Old MacDonald’s farm."

Never Feed a Yeti Spaghetti by Make Believe Ideas Ltd. at Amazon

"Each page features a different animal with an open mouth and felt teeth that help promote sensory development."

Press Here by Herve Tullet at Amazon

"The fun, interactive book will get your tot thinking critically, identifying colors, and learning about cause and effect."

Good Night, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle at Amazon

"A favorite for kiddos, it's the perfect bedtime story about a truck and his friend trying to get home through a storm."

World of Eric Carle, Hear Bear Roar by Editors of Phoenix International Publications at Amazon

"The interactive book instructs kids to press buttons on the side of the book throughout the story and listen for an animal sound."

We All Belong A Children's Book About Diversity, Race and Empathy by Nathalie Goss at Amazon

"The rhyming poem made into a story focuses on multi-cultural inclusion and celebrating the differences between people."

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet at Amazon

"The interactive book instructs kids to smash, swirl, and mix colorful dots on the pages and see the result on the next page."

In My Heart A Book Of Feelings by Jo Witek at barnesandnoble.com

"Toddlers will get a head start on learning different emotions, from happiness to shyness, with this book."

Cozying up next to your toddler to read them 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.

If you’re not sure what to add, here are some of our favorite toddler books.

Our Top Picks

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is 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 by A.A. Milne

Pooh’s Library Original Four Volume Set by A.A. Milne

 Courtesy of Scholastic

Winnie the Pooh is one of the most beloved characters, and you can read all about his adventures with this four-book set. With titles like 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. 

Old MacDonald’s Farm by Melissa & Doug

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 by Make Believe Ideas Ltd.

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 by Herve Tullet

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 by Alice Schertle

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 by Editors of Phoenix International Publications

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 by Nathalie Goss

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 by Herve Tullet

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 by Jo Witek

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 by Innosanto Nagara

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 ABC’s. 

Dinosaur Dance! by Sandra Boynton

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 by Margaret Wise Brown

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 by Jon Stone

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 of the monster will only grow as the story goes on. 

Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden

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.

What to Look for When Buying Books for Toddlers

Age-Appropriate

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. With that being said, 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

While it is totally ok to stock your little one's library with books that are just for fun, adding in educational options will help them strengthen various skills as they grow through their developmental milestones.

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.  

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a staff and freelance writer who covers lifestyle, home, parenting, and commerce content 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.

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  1. O’Keefe L. Parents who read to their children nurture more than literary skills. AAP News. June 24, 2014.