24 Best Toddler Books to Help Start Your Little One's Love of Reading

No matter your toddler’s age, there’s a book out there that’s right for them—and that they’re sure to fall in love with.
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Updated August 10, 2023
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While some parenting techniques may come in and out of style, reading to your child will always be part of the routine. Not only is it a calming bedtime ritual or a way to spend quality time with your little one at any time of day, reading the top toddler books to your kiddo will help them grow developmentally and emotionally—even before they’re old enough to comprehend each word.

It’s never too early to start reading to baby, but as your child enters the toddler stage, they’ll really begin to interact with their books—they’ll likely have preferences and enjoy reading the same books over and over. This may be tedious for some parents, but rereading actually helps boost pre-literacy skills. Finding popular toddler books to read that you and your kiddo will both enjoy can help. So without further ado, we’ve selected the best toddler books for one-, two- and three-year-olds.

Best Books for One-Year-Olds

Check out our selection of the best toddler books for one-year-olds. These are perfect for pausing to ask your child questions and pointing out different objects for them to name as you read.

Morning routine book

*Sunrise Dance* by Serena Gingold Allen
Image: Barnes & Noble

Not all toddler books are for bedtime. This sweet story about how animals start their day is a great way for you and your child to start yours too! Or if you read it at night, it’ll give your kiddo something to look forward to with their own morning routine and it’ll maybe convince them to get to sleep faster (if you’re lucky!). Plus, they'll love all the interactive tabs to pull, push and spin—all of which are durable enough to withstand a handsy toddler.

Year published: 2022 | Number of pages: 14

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Positive board book

One-year-olds will love the Pout-Pout fish and friends’ funny faces and quirky personalities so much, they’ll want to be a part of their underwater world. Your little one will be happy to hear the repetitive verses and silly rhymes again and again—there are even some life lessons in there!

Year published: 2013 | Number of pages: 32

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Zoo-themed book for toddlers

*Dear Zoo* by Rod Campbell
Image: Target

There’s a reason Dear Zoo has been one of the best books for toddlers for over 20 years—what kid doesn’t love going to the zoo? When you can’t make it there physically, this book will do the trick. Your child will have a grand time lifting up the taps and discovering what animal is underneath.

Year published: 2007 | Number of pages: 18

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Dinosaur peek-and-play book

*Roar! I'm a Dinosaur* by Merrill Rainey
Image: Walmart

We’ll take a gamble that your child just might be interested in dinosaurs. This board book will spark their imagination by letting them peek through the eyes of their favorite dino. They’ll be drawn to the boldly colorful illustrations and take away some fun facts too!

Year published: 2022 | Number of pages: 16

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First words book

This classic is a must in any one-year-old’s book collection. Help baby learn by going through the colorful pictures of 100 different words with them, and then let them explore the pages on their own too.

Year published: 2011 | Number of pages: 24

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Fun peekaboo toddler book

Toddlers and peekaboo may go even more hand-in-hand than toddlers and dinosaurs! It’s a game every kid enjoys, and this beautifully illustrated book will take your child through a morning of peekaboo with family in a warm, entertaining and educational way. Given how fun it is, this book is a must-have for your list of learning books for toddlers.

Year published: 2008 | Number of pages: 24

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Sensory animal toddler book

*Wild Animals* by Little Hippo Books
Image: Walmart

Children learn by exploring their senses, and this book for one-year-olds offers a tactile experience your little one will love. They can touch the fluffy lion’s mane or the slippery dolphin skin while you read them this adorable book about wild animals. And not only does each page have something to touch, it also has a fun fact to take in as well. Now that’s what we call an all-around winner!

Year published: 2020 | Number of pages: 10

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Fun sheep toddler book

*Where Is the Green Sheep?* by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Image: Target

Your kiddo will be enthralled by the whimsical illustrations of sheep doing all sorts of fun activities in this book. It’s a great option to read and point things out to your child as you look for that elusive green sheep—and it’s almost a guarantee they’ll want to start the search over again after you find him!

Year published: 2006 | Number of pages: 32

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Best Books for 2-Year-Olds

These books for 2-year-olds have a story they can follow along with as they turn each page.

Giraffe-themed toddler book

This heartwarming and vibrantly illustrated story about dancing to the beat of your own drum (or grasshopper!) will fill your child with delight. They’ll love seeing all the animals doing their thing at the Great Jungle Dance, and they’ll develop a soft spot for Gerald the clumsy giraffe who learns an important lesson in the story.

Year published: 2001 | Number of pages: 32

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Whimsical book for toddlers

Your little one is sure to fall for any book written and whimsically illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, but this sweetly absurd story about a kite getting stuck in a tree that leads to, well, a whole lot of other things getting stuck in a tree, will bring on the giggles—and we’re not just talking about for the kiddos!

Year published: 2011 | Number of pages: 32

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Friendship-themed toddler book

Quite possibly one of the most popular books for toddlers out there, Dragons Love Tacos needs to have a spot on your kiddo’s bookshelf. The hilarious story of new friendship and a love of tacos of all sorts is another one that will make you and your little one laugh out loud time and time again.

Year published: 2012 | Number of pages: 40

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Adventurous pig toddler book

Do you have a 2-year-old who can be a little naughty? Well, they’re sure to relate to everyone’s favorite rambunctious little pig, Olivia—and as a parent, you won’t feel so alone either. Your kiddo can follow along as Olivia whizzes through her day stirring up trouble wherever she goes. And if your child falls for Olivia, there are plenty of other books in the series to keep up with her on her adventures.

Year published: 2000 | Number of pages: 40

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Heartwarming children’s book

This is a particularly special book to read with your children because it beautifully illustrates all the loving things parents think of when they see their children and all the amazing possibilities that lay ahead of them. The imagery is lush and the message is truly heartfelt without being overly sappy. We know you’ll love this pick just as much as your kiddo will!

Year published: 2016 | Number of pages: 36

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Sharing lessons toddler book

*Just for Me* by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Image: Barnes & Noble

Oh, sharing! As the playdates or daycare may be starting for your 2-year-old, the sharing struggle can become all too real. It may not be a concept your little one totally can (or wants to) grasp yet, but books like these can help them on their way. This story offers an important lesson about friendship and sharing that will do more than just entertain.

Year published: 2019 | Number of pages: 40

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Digger-themed toddler book

Many parents don’t even know what a digger is before they have a child, but chances are your 2-year-old is obsessed with them. Allow them to take their love of machinery a step further than ogling over every construction site you pass with this sweet book about where their beloved diggers and friends go to sleep at night.

Year published: 2012 | Number of pages: 32

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Illustration-heavy book

Spark your 2-year-old’s imagination with this book that focuses on illustrations rather than a bunch of words. Your child can go on a journey with Mr. Wuffles around the house and all the way into outer space while you make up parts of the story as you go along. Each read will offer a whole new experience and chance for fun!

Year published: 2013 | Number of pages: 32

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Best Books for 3-Year-Olds

This section is full of the best books for 3-year-olds. More than just picture books, they’ll keep your kids engaged, spark their imaginations and help them learn valuable lessons.

Mental and emotional health-themed book

Children and adults alike can relate to this silly yet thoughtful story of a monkey who is in a funk. It’s a beautiful day and all the other animals in the jungle want to play but this monkey is just not feeling it—and after a series of hilarious encounters he learns that that is totally okay.

Year published: 2018 | Number of pages: 32

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Bear-themed toddler book

This sweet book with engaging illustrations will keep your little one on the edge of their seat (or bed) wondering what the sleeping bear will do if he wakes up to find a bunch of other animals having a party in his cave. The answer is sure to make everyone smile and even once the secret is out, it’s a tale that will be read over and over again. We especially love that even though it was written more than 20 years ago, it doesn’t feel dated.

Year published: 2002 | Number of pages: 32

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Crocodile-themed toddler book

Illustrated with a lush palette, this book tells the story of all the animals that may not be soft and fuzzy, but need to be loved just the same. Your kid will meet scaly crocodiles, slithering snakes and prickly porcupines who want to cuddle with their parents just as much as your little one does.

Year published: 2020 | Number of pages: 40

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Classic children’s book

You may have heard of (or read!) Ezra Keats’ classic book for toddlers, The Snowy Day, but his lesser-know Whistle for Willie is just as memorable. First published in 1964, the story that continues to follow Peter as he navigates life in the city through evocative illustrations still holds up today.

Year published: 1964 | Number of pages: 32

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Toddler book about emotions

Help your child get in touch with their feelings with this moving book full of whimsical drawings. It’ll help them identify and navigate all the emotions they may feel (perhaps all in one day!), from happiness and sadness to anger and shyness and everything in between. Each page describes what an emotion may feel like, not just in their mind but in their body too. It’s a great way for parents and children to slow down and take a deep breath together.

Year published: 2014 | Number of pages: 30

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Monkey-themed toddler book

You can never get enough monkeys! This vividly colorful—and a little bit mischievous—tale of three monkeys pushing their boundaries just a little bit is light and fun and will be easily kept in the reading rotation for years to come.

Year published: 2021 | Number of pages: 40

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Emotional toddler book

While we love books about animals or adventure, this book showing the day in the life of a family in each room in their house is extra special. There is laughter and fun, of course, but there are also tears and learning to say “I'm sorry.” Bonus points for being beautifully illustrated!

Year published: 2019 | Number of pages: 32

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Suspenseful toddler book

The Gruffalo has become a classic for a reason. Its perfect mix of silliness, and the suspense from your 3-year-old will make for an all around fun read time and time again. In the book, a clever little mouse will take you on an unforgettable journey through the deep dark woods—and who doesn’t love seeing the little person (er, mouse) come out on top in the end?

Year published: 2005 | Number of pages: 32

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How We Chose the Best Toddler Books

Reading to your child should be a part of your everyday routine, but how do you know which books are the best for each age? With the plethora of books for toddlers out there, we thought we’d make it a little easier for you. We narrowed down some of the best toddler books available so you can pick out what you think your child will love.

When selecting the books, we considered how interactive they are, the storyline, the length and any special features they may have. We also made sure to read user reviews to see what real consumers have experienced when reading these books to their kids, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

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