Choosing Great Books for Young Toddlers Print E-mail

This booklist has been designed to help you learn more about choosing books for young toddlers aged 12-24 months, though almost all of these titles will still hold great appeal for both babies and young preschoolers.  Look at the books in each short section for examples of the types of books or of characteristics that appeal to this age group.

Look for these features in books for toddlers 12-24 months:

Silly, Silly, Silly

Young toddlers are learning so much about their world that they are starting to know when something isn’t quite right—and they think it’s hilarious.

  • any board book by Sandra Boynton
  • What’s On My Head? by Margaret Miller
  • The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton
  • Do Monkeys Tweet? by Melanie Walsh

Mother Goose

Reading a few nursery rhymes every day builds great phonological awareness skills. For this age group, look for a book that consists of just one rhyme, or a collection that has one rhyme on each page.

  • 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe, by Anna Grossnickle Hines
  • The Neighborhood Mother Goose, by Nina Crews
  • Tomie’s Little Mother Goose, by Tomie dePaola
  • My Very First Mother Goose! by Iona Opie

Everyday Situations

Books about ordinary routines, familiar toys, and favorite TV characters help children make their first genuine connections with literature and foster a love of books.

  • Lola at the Library, by Anna McQuinn
  • Baby Danced the Polka, by Karen Beaumont
  • Maisy Big, Maisy Small, by Lucy Cousins
  • Under My Hood I Have a Hat, by Karla Kuskin
  • Te Amo, Bebe, Little One, by Lisa Wheeler

Bright, Colorful Pages

Bold, simple pictures catch the eyes of small children whose ability to focus and pay attention is still developing.

  • Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli
  • Toot Toot Beep Beep, by Emma Garcia
  • More, More, More, Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams
  • Shake Shake Shake, by Andrea Davis Pinkney


With lots of fun parts to explore, these books are easy to sit still for. When children enjoy their experiences with books, they want more and more!

  • Peek-a-Baby, by Karen Katz
  • Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell
  • Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
  • Whose Nose and Toes? by John Butler

Wordless Books

These books typically have lots to look at and identify on each page, with very few or no words. Letting young toddlers talk about the pictures at their own pace helps develop narrative skills.

  • Peep! by Kevin Luthardt
  • Rosie’s Walk, by Pat Hutchins
  • Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
  • Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

Word Books

Simple word books with lots of white space provide successful opportunities for pointing and naming,

  • Sam’s First Word Book, by Yves Got
  • First Picture Word Book, by Jo Litchfield and Caroline Young
  • Baby Day, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Magazines for Babies and Young Toddlers

These two magazines are printed on stiff cardboard pages and are full of appealing photos, rhymes, illustrations, short stories, and fingerplays.

  • Babybug
  • Wild Animal Baby

Not to Be Missed

Here are a few old classics and new favorites for you to try with young toddlers.

  • Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  • The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Clip Clop, by Nicola Smee
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney