Choosing Great Books for 2s and 3s Print E-mail

This booklist has been designed to help you learn more about choosing books for young children aged
2-3 years. Look at the books in each short section for examples of the types of books or of characteristics that appeal to this age group. However, many of these titles have broad appeal, so don’t hesitate to try them out with younger babies or older preschoolers.

Look for these features in books for 2- and 3-year olds:

Board Books & Toddler Books

Not just for babies! These books are easy for toddlers to handle as they learn about the words on the page, the parts of a book, and turning pages. Toddler books are printed with cardstock pages, which help young readers transition from board books to “regular” picture books.

  • Clap Hands, by Helen Oxenbury
  • Goodbye, Hello! by Shen Roddie
  • Boo Hoo Boo-Boo, by Marilyn Singer

Bright, Simple Pictures

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

  • Hickory Dickory Dock, by Keith Baker
  • My Car, by Byron Barton
  • Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting
  • Blue Goose, by Nancy Tafuri

ABC Books

Toddlers need simple alphabet books that aren’t too gimmicky. These books help with letter awareness and vocabulary.

  • Alphabatics, by Suse MacDonald
  • Charley Harper ABC, by Charley Harper
  • Brian Wildsmith’s ABC, by Brian Wildsmith

Wordless Books

Since these books have very few, if any, words, children can practice their narrative skills by making up their own stories to go with the pictures.

  • The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs
  • Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day
  • The Knight and the Dragon, by Tomie DePaola
  • The Wave, by Suzy Lee

Rhyming Stories

Rhymes are an excellent way to foster good phonological awareness. Also look for stories with a rhythm or “beat” to them, even if they don’t rhyme.

  • Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Rattletrap Car, by Phyllis Root
  • Trashy Town, by Andrea Zimmerman

Repetitive Stories

Children can memorize these stories and “read” them on their own. They are proud of themselves and feel good about reading.

  • Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle
  • Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer  
  • The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss
  • Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont

Familiar Situations

Toddlers have a hard time telling fantasy from reality. Real-life stories help them learn about the world they know.

  • Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
  • Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett
  • Who Will Tuck Me In Tonight? by Carol Roth

Not to Be Missed

Here are a few old classics and new favorites for you to try with your toddler.

  • Freight Train, by Donald Crews
  • Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea
  • Corderoy, by Don Freeman
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
  • Sheep in a Jeep, by Nancy Shaw
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems