Ten Books For Toddlers

We are a family of book lovers. We love going to the library and story time is one of the best parts of the day. I am a book fanatic but I also have high standards. If I have to read it 20 times it had better be fun for me too! Plus, I like books that also earn their keep by teaching values like empathy, developing vocabularies, showing all different cultures and lifestyles, and so on.

These books are ones that do all that and more.
  1. More More More, Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams
    We have the board book version of this book. Delightful illustrations depict 3 sets of toddlers with adults who love them. Each adult shows his or her love in a different fun and sweet way-- a daddy swings his son all around and kisses his tummy, a mother catches up her sleeping daughter and kisses her closed eyes, and a grandmother chases her granddaughter and kisses her toes. Each child responds with "More more more!" other than the sleeping baby who closes the book with "Mmm... ". It's fun to kiss your own little ones as you read, and the mix of cultures is great (for instance, the grandma is white and has a black granddaughter) so all kids will feel represented.

  2. A Fairy Went A-Marketing, by Rose Fyleman and illustrated by Jamichael Henterly
    Our family loves this book! The illustrations are bright and lovely, with wonderful detail. Every time I read it I notice another wonderful little element in the pictures. The lesson is as beautiful. The fairy enjoys her wonderful coat all day and then gives it to a frog to keep him warm... she bought a little mouse to help her out at home and at the end of the day she thanked it and let it go, and so on. The rhyme keeps my toddler's attention and the illustrations keep my baby's as well. A must have!

  3. Hop on Pop, by Dr. Seuss
    This is one of our favorite Dr. Seuss books. It's comical and fun, plus it's excellent for teaching early reading skills. Rhyming words are placed on top of each other to clearly emphasize their likenesses and differences, like hop and pop. I use it to show my daughter how changing one letter changes the word and how letters sound. More important, it's really fun!

  4. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
    This is a classic you might remember from your own childhood, for good reason. It's so simple, yet it perfectly captures the mood of a snowy day and a sweet little boy named Peter. Keats wrote a number of other books and we've been taking them out of the library. They are a wonderful way of showing children different experiences. For instance, in The Pirate, the main character lives with her family in an old bus. She's happy and loved, though, and it's not treated as anything unusual. Many Keats books deal with harsh realities (in the Pirate, the heroine's cricket dies and a boy reveals his sadness that his father pays no attention to him). At first I minded this and then I loved the opportunity to talk about this stuff with my daughter. The Snowy Day, however, is just a simple story about a boy in the snow.

  5. Mama, Do you Love Me? by Barbara M Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
    This is a modern classic and if you don't know it you should! It's wonderful! A good book is simple and artistic enough to keep a young child's attention, but offers something for older kids as they grow. This one does that. Each page has a couple of sentences where a child keeps asking if her mama will love her even if she is naughty or whatever. The mother responds that she always will. The child's what-ifs get more and more outlandish (What if I stuffed salmon in your coat.... turned into a scary polar bear) but the mother replies always with the gentle constant love, along with 'Then I'd be angry' or 'Then I'd be surprised'. It's cute enough you don't mind reading it again and again, and it's full of Inuit culture. At the end, there is a glossary teaching you the Inuit words and animals used in the book. The love and humor will make it a favorite for children over many years, plus it's a great learning tool and plain old sweet. The art is fantastic too. Another must-have!

  6. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
    This is a classic for a reason. Everybody loves it! This is also my husband's favorite book. He bought a copy for himself as an adult long before he even had kids! We can all relate to the little boy who acts naughty and wants to be king of the wild things but then gets homesick and just wants to be loved.

  7. Do's and Don'ts, by Todd Parr
    Our family's favorite silly book. This is a small hardcover book saturated with color. I looked and there is no white anywhere in this book or on its cover! It's all primary colors with child-like art and printing. It has a do and a don't on each set of pages-- ex: DO wear clean underwear/ DON'T wear them on your head! We all love this book. It's great fun!

  8. There's a Nightmare in my Closet, by Mercer Mayer
    This book is so darling I adore it. A little boy is afraid of the monster in his closet, so one night he decides to get rid of him. The poor goofy looking monster ends up crying and the boy relents and lets him sleep in bed with him so he's not scared. It's a wonderful twist to make the monster so sad and scared, plus it's great the way the boy comforts him. Best of all, the art is great. The monster makes me giggle every time.

  9. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
    This is a classic and for good reason. It's colorful and fun, and toddlers love the repitition involved. It also has great appeal because of the different sized pages, holes and other ways the book is just a little unique. Eric Carle has other great books too. One of my personal favorites is "Draw me a star" and Victoria adores "Dream Snow," which even plays music on the last page.

  10. The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene A. Costanzo
    This was a gift to us. It's a beautiful book and teaches such beautiful lessons. It talks about how each baby is given the twelve gifts of birth... courage, strength, beauty and so on. Accompanied by beautiful photographs, each gift is followed by a simple prayer or wish about the gift. The mood is so loving, and it is a wonderful way to teach your children about integrity and how special they are.

This list is such a small start to all the fantastic children's books out there, but these are some of our favorites. Check them out! I hope you and your family love them as much as we do!

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