41 Best Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers are energetic, curious creatures, always looking for something new to learn and environments to explore. Books are a great way to expand your child’s imagination and engage them in more creative thinking. Our compilation of the best books for toddlers is aimed to help you accomplish this goal and allow you to spend some great one on one time with your growing toddler or preschooler.

What to Look for in the Best Books for Toddlers

The following books made our list because they met one or more of the criteria we use when judging how well-suited they are for early learners.

  • They made use of rhyming and repetitive phrases.
  • They contained pop-ups or flaps to add dimension to stories.
  • They contained colorful, engaging illustrations.

As toddlers grow and expand their knowledge pool, they need books that continue feeding their natural curiosity. That is why our best books for toddlers list includes recommendations that children anywhere from one to four years old can explore.

Books should encourage toddlers to interact with you and enjoy what they are viewing. That builds a foundation for a love of books that will hopefully last a lifetime!

41 Toddler and Preschooler Book Recommendations

1. What Are Stars

Author and Illustrator: Katie Daynes

Your toddlers can expand their growing knowledge of the twinkling lights they see above them in the night sky.

2. Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late

Author and Illustrator: Mo Willems

Kids love to stall as much as possible when it is time to go to bed. Mo Willem’s book puts the child in charge of a young pigeon who does everything possible to put off sleep. Your child will learn to recognize their tactics as the young bird finally drifts off to dreamland.

3. A Good Day for a Hat

Author: T. Nat Fuller

Illustrator: Rob Hodgson

You and your child watch a bear as he changes his clothes to suit the ever-changing weather. Your child will learn when and why they must wear specific gear to prepare for rain, snow and the hot sun.

4. Little Excavator

Author and Illustrator: Anna Dewdney

Children will enjoy following the story of Little E, a small construction truck who finds himself struggling to keep up with the larger vehicles around him. He turns things around when his size makes him the perfect choice to finish off a job. Your child will learn the importance of perseverance and patience when it comes to getting things done.

5. Hands Say Love

Author: George Shannon

Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo

Your child will discover how hands can lend comfort and assistance to others. They see hands initiating hugs, greeting others and helping with tasks. The book shows children the importance of working together, helping friends and showing their appreciation for others.

6. Goodnight Moon

Authors: Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Follow the story of a small bunny as he says goodnight to everything he sees, including the moon. Your child will love the rhythmic poetry of the words and the gorgeous illustrations contained in the book.

7. Make Way for Ducklings

Author and Illustrator: Robert McCloskey

Your child will enjoy the drawings and story contained within this classic children’s book. A family of mallards makes their home in the lake of the Public Garden. You and your child can read along as Mrs. Mallard guides her young family through Boston’s busy streets to meet their father.

8. Black Bird, Yellow Sun

Author and Illustrator: Steve Light

Help your child learn more about color and expand their imagination as they read about the blackbird standing on green grass under purple grapes.

9. It Takes Two to T’wit T’woo

Author: Paula Knight

Illustrator: Guiliano Ferri

Enjoy the beautiful pictures with your child as you read the story of Olive, the tawny owl who is looking for a friend. Watch and see who responds to her “T’wit” calls with a “T’woo.”

10. There’s a Wocket in my Pocket

Author and Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

No list of the best books for toddlers would be complete without a story from the literary master. Your child will laugh at and repeat the charming rhymes used to frame the story.

11. When’s My Birthday?

Author: Julie Fogliano

Illustrator: Christian Robinson

Teach your toddler about birthdays as they follow along with the excitement of their narrator as they approach their upcoming celebration. They will learn about what makes it a day and all the fun that goes along with it.

12. Harold and the Purple Crayon

Author and Illustrator: Crockett Johnson

Help your preschooler discover their love of adventure. They will follow along with Harold and his handy purple crayon, working together to get back home to bed.

13. Each Peach Pear Plum

Authors and Illustrators: Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Toddlers will learn to spot details while you encourage them to review the lushly drawn pictures and locate their favorite nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters.

14. Make a Wish, Midas!

Author: Joan Holub

Illustrator: Leslie Patricelli

Allow your toddler to begin learning about the classic figure from Greek mythology. They watch Midas learn the consequences of wanting everything to be yellow and how he resolves his problem.

15. Love You Forever

Author: Robert Munsch

Illustrator: Sheila McGraw

Your preschooler will learn about the unconditional love of parents. Both of you can watch the story of a boy who goes through the various stages of life until he becomes an adult. The man then gives the same love and support received from his parents.

16. The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Author and Illustrator: Emily Winfield Martin

Reading this book aloud to your child allows you to impart lifelong principles such as being kind to others, being unafraid to be themselves and providing encouragement to their friends and families.

17. The Going to Bed Book

Author and Illustrator: Sandra Boynton

You and your toddler can laugh together at the inspired excuses given out by the animals in the story doing everything possible to avoid going to bed. We hope your little one will find themselves drifting off at the end along with the characters in the story.

18. This Book Is Magic

Author and Illustrator: Ashley Evanson

Encourage your budding magician with this interactive book. They can clap, wave their hands and even chant to make magic happen within the pages.

19. The Pout-Pout Fish

Author: Deborah Diesen

Illustrator: Dan Hanna

Encourage your preschooler to coax themselves out of their bad mood by reading the story of Mr. Fish. They can learn how his bad mood affects others and how he managed to find something about which to smile.

20. Adventures with Barefoot Critters

Author and Illustrator: Teagan White

Help your child learn the alphabet and about the changes that come with the seasons. Journey with the animals in the story as they build campfires in the fall and gather honey in the spring.

21. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker

Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld

Your wheel-loving tykes will learn to wind down and get ready for bed along with the different vehicles featured in the story.

22. Whistle for Willie

Author and Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats

Do you have a toddler becoming frustrated with their attempts at learning to whistle? Help them find encouragement through the story of a young boy as he learns to whistle for his dog.

23. The Little House

Author: Virginia Lee Burton

Your preschooler will learn about the differences between living in the city and country as they follow the tale of a modest house. It decides to move from its countryside environment to the city, then realizes how much it misses the country. Encourage your child to ask questions as you follow the story to its conclusion.

24. My Big Animal Book

Author: Roger Priddy

Help your toddler learn more about animals through this beautiful picture book, grouping animals by categories. Encourage your child to learn more about familiar animals and discover new ones to enjoy.

25. Circus Ship

Author and Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Preschoolers will love the story of a ship full of circus animals who end up shipwrecked in a storm. They escape their mean owner and hide out in in a town located on an island in Maine. There, they find a loving community willing to accept them and give them a home.

26. Use Your Words, Sophie

Author: Rosemary Wells

The story of Sophie, a two-year-old still learning to express herself, will resonate with many toddlers. She learns how to interpret what her new baby sister wants while remaining her unique self.

27. If Animals Kissed Goodnight

Author: Ann Whitford Paul

Illustrator: David Walker

Encourage your child to show affection to their loved ones through this story of the differences in how baby animals kiss their parents’ goodnight.

28. All The World

Author: Liz Garton Scanlon

Illustrator: Marla Frazee

Allow your preschooler to see a different perspective on the world through the eyes of a diverse family. You’ll explore their community and reinforce messages about the importance of family and love.

29. The Gruffalo

Author: Julia Donaldson

Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

Four-year-old children will love following the journey of Mouse, who decides to take a stroll through the forest. They will like how the inventive creature uses his imagination to get out of trouble with animals who see him as a potential snack!

30. Duck & Goose, 1, 2, 3

Author and Illustrator: Tad Hills

Encourage your toddler’s math education with the aid of Duck, Goose and all their friends. Characters carry illustrations of numbers from one to ten, helping your child learn to count.

31. Dad By My Side

Author and Illustrator: Soosh

You and your child will enjoy the story of a large but gentle father who gets rid of monsters and freely gives out hugs to his daughter.

32. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Author: Bill Martin Jr.

Illustrator: Eric Carle

Introduce your toddler to rhyme and repetition with this book of colorful illustrations and sing-song words. Toddlers can also improve their observational skills as they identify the animals seen by the brown bear in the story.

33. Wheels on the Bus

Authors: Grossett and Dunlap

Illustrator: Jerry Smath

Entertain your young toddler with the book based on the classic children’s song. It’s the perfect size to fit into small hands, and your kids will love the colorful illustrations of the wheels going round, wipers that swish and other aspects of the song.

34. Guess How Much I Love You

Illustrator: Anita Jeram

Author: Sam McBratney

Explore the love between parents and children through the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father. Show your toddler how much you adore them through the words used by Big Nutbrown Hare.

35. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Authors: Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Illustrator: Lois Ehlert

Encourage your child to learn their ABCs by reading this story where the letters of the alphabet climb up a coconut tree one by one. Can all the letters possibly fit together at the top?

36. Pete The Cat

Author: Eric Litwin

Illustrator: James Dean

Have a fun sing-along with your toddler as you read the story of Pete the Cat. He ends up losing one of the four buttons on his favorite shirt. But he doesn’t let that get him down and keeps on singing his song!

37. I Love You Because You’re You

Author: Eliza Baker

Illustrator: David McPhail

Read along with your toddler as a mother fox goes over the different moods of her cubs. She shows the depths of her love as she reassures and comforts them, helping them feel safe and secure. Kids learn that parents still love them even if they are not always perfect.

38. Jabari Jumps

Author and Illustrator: Gaia Cornwall

Toddlers sometimes find themselves encountering challenging situations as they work on building new skills. They will enjoy the story of Jabari and how he looks for courage as he attempts to jump off a high diving board for the first time.

39. Here, George!

Author: Sandra Boynton

Illustrator: George Booth

George, the old dog, has a secret. He won’t even tell it to his loving family. Your child will enjoy the payoff as George eventually reveals what he knows!

40. Baby Animals Playing

Author and Photographer: Suzi Eszterhas

You and your child will enjoy these lovely pictures of baby animals at play. Children learn about the ways animals from different species enjoy themselves.

41. Grains of Sand

Author and Illustrator: Sibylle Delacroix

Why can’t summer last forever? Your preschool and elementary-aged children will relate to the little girl in the story who sadly faces the last day of a family vacation. She and her brother come up with inventive ways to grow from grains of sand on the beach.

Family of Faith Preschool

We hope your little ones enjoy the selections from our list of the best books for toddlers and preschoolers.

At The Family of Faith Preschools we instill a love of reading in our students from a young age with read-alouds and exploring words and sentence structure. Contact us to learn more about our reading activities (and what parents can do at home to encourage a love of reading) or book a tour of our facility.

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