Top 15 Must-Have Books for Your Toddler Library

The best gift you can give to your child is your time, and there is no better one-on-one time than to snuggle up before bed and read. Reading is the perfect way to wind down and relax before going to bed. Reading not only helps children fall asleep faster and easier, it fosters and encourages imaginations for play time. Nighttime reading inspires daytime play.

Birth to age three are the most critical years for the development of language skills that are foundational for future learning success. It’s important to remember that reading is a skill, not a natural talent. Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. Besides, is there anything better than sharing a good book with your child in your lap? 

Children are made readers on the lap of their parents.  – Emilie Buchwald

As fun as it is to start a library for your baby, it can also be quite overwhelming. There are thousands of choices of books in all shapes and sizes and subjects. There’s a science to finding the perfect balance of magnificent illustrations with rhythmic sounds while keeping the attention of youngsters, not to mention the busy minds of mom and dad! So, we’ve done the work for you and narrowed down our top 15 picks for your toddler’s library that you’ll enjoy reading as much as your little one.


1. Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Brown tells the tale of what animals do on the farm while the farmer and children are away. This book has it all: It is beautifully written in a calming tone while still keeping the reader engaged.  Parents and children alike will not tire of reading Big Red Barn

Click HERE to add Big Red Barn to Your library.


2. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

Little Blue Truck communicates (“Beep!”) with his farm animal friends while showing the value and rewards of kindness and friendship. The rhymes and illustrations will have your child asking for an encore. 

Click HERE to add Little Blue Truck to your library.


3. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Your child will love going on a search for Spot. Encourage extra giggles by giving your best animal sounds as you lift the flaps and discover a lion or alligator or bear.

Click HERE to add Where’s Spot? to your library.


4. My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck

If your child loves silly with a touch of spook, then this is the book they’ll be begging to read each night. This little monster tells the reader of the many ways in which he knows his mama loves him, and it’s sweet, imaginative and cute all rolled up into a fun and entertaining package. It proves that even monster mamas love their babies with all their hearts.

Click HERE to add My Monster Mama Loves Me So to your library.


5. Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough

Follow the adventures of Duck as his truck gets stuck in the muck. This will be an instant favorite for any child with its funny and rhythmic text. It will also work as a good example to teach children the importance of treating others with kindness as duck is amusing while at the same time not so nice to his friends.

Click HERE to add Duck in the Truck to your library.


6. The Goodnight Train by June Sobel

If you’re searching for the perfect wind-down story for bedtime, then look no further than The Goodnight Train. With its soothing rhythmic words and train sounds, your child will be engrossed with the beautifully written story and captivating illustrations while ready to pull into Dreamland.  This is truly a must-have for a nighttime routine.

Click HERE to add The Goodnight Train to your library.


7. I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry

This classic follows Nicholas the Bunny as he learns about the four seasons. It’s a sweet story mixed with appealing illustrations; a perfect combination for any toddler’s book collection.

Click HERE to add I am a Bunny to your library.


8. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

A baby bird goes on the search for his mother and cuteness ensues. Be sure to turn on your best animal voices for each critter in order to fully appreciate this tale.

Click HERE to add Are You My Mother? to your library.


9. First Look and Find Series

The First Look and Find series of books has many choices to suit your child’s interests, from Thomas the Train to Scooby Doo to Minnie Mouse, so there’s surely something your little one will love. They are the perfect “quiet time” book for your child to sit alone (or on your lap) and find the hidden objects. 

Click HERE to add First Look and Find Series to your library.


10. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Similar to Where’s Spot?, Dear Zoo will bring endless entertainment as your child finds surprises behind each flap. This is a great way to introduce the idea of bringing a new pet to the family as well as talk about the different kinds of animals at the zoo. 

Click HERE to add Dear Zoo to your library.


11. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Really, you can’t go wrong with anything by Dr. Seuss. The options are endless, ranging from fun rhymes to silly outlandishness. But for toddlers, Green Eggs and Ham is a true winner. Not only is it hilarious, it broaches the discussion of being a picky eater in a playful way.

Click HERE to add Green Eggs and Ham to your library.


12. Fisher Price Little People Lift the Flap Books

There are dozens of options for the Lift the Flap books featuring the friendly Little People faces. Animals, vehicles, starting school, careers, holidays; really any subject you can think of. Anything that your child may love or any holiday or event you’d like to teach them about and you’re likely to find a fun, interesting way to entertain your child while learning about it.

Click HERE to add Lift the Flap Books to your library.


13. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Gerald the Giraffe is embarrassed when he dances in front of the other animals until he learns that he just needs to find his own groove. This is a story about being yourself and a good way to talk about not making fun of friends who are different.

Click HERE to add Giraffes Can’t Dance to your library.


14. Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan

A soothing bedtime story about Little Owl’s wonderful adventures with other nocturnal animal friends. The perfect way to end the day and welcome a dreamful sleep.

Click HERE to add Little Owl’s Night to your library.


15. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Exhausted from dealing with an emotional toddler? The Pout-Pout Fish helps put into words (with the help of whimsical illustrations) how one chooses how to react to situations and how positivity can turn your day around: something even us grumpy adults can be reminded of every now and then.

Click HERE to add The Pout-Pout Fish to your library.


While this list gives a perfect starting point, there are truly magnificent books filling the shelves of your local bookstore. Have fun with reading, and your child will learn to do the same. 

Have we left out your favorite children’s book? If so, be sure to check out 18 Books Your 18 Month Old Will Love!

Photo Credit: Melissa Wistehuff

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Melissa Wistehuff

Melissa lives in North Carolina with her husband, three children and two cats. When she is not acting as a taxi driver or roaming the aisles of Target, she enjoys hot tea, spending time with girlfriends and family movie nights. She is constantly on the search for all things good, as showcased on her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter .

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