There are all types of books for toddlers to introduce them to reading and spark their imagination

With growing attention spans and endless curiosity, toddlers are the perfect audience for read-aloud books. They’re ready for all the humor, rhyming text and interactive elements that picture books have to offer. We’ve divided both new titles and classics into categories that are of high interest to youngsters and their parents. So whether you’re looking for the perfect bedtime tale or a story about friendship or vehicles, you’ll find it here with our top 40 favorite books for toddlers.

Bedtime Books for Toddlers

Toddler Books Guess How Much I Love You

Guess How Much I Love You

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Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare compete to see how much they love each other in this classic bedtime story by Sam McBratney. Anita Jeram’s neutral-toned illustrations are the perfect calming visuals. Show your little ones how you love them to the moon and back each night.

toddler books a book of sleep

A Book of Sleep


As night falls, owl is awake and ready to observe the sleeping habits of other animals, like pigeons that sleep with one eye open and penguins who huddle in a bunch. This quick read, written and illustrated by Il Sung Na, gives readers time to luxuriate in the swirling, patterned pictures.

toddler books llama llama red pajama

Llama Llama Red Pajama


When Baby Llama has trouble falling asleep and Mama Llama doesn’t respond fast enough, all the drama ensues. Author/illustrator Anna Dewdney uses simple rhymes and charming illustrations to bring alive the pajama-clad character in a nighttime scenario parents will likely recognize.

Baby, Sleepy Baby


With the help of natural elements like the clouds and the moon, family members sing their baby to sleep. It’s no wonder this bedtime story reads like a lullaby as author Atinuke based the text on a song her father used to sing. The illustrations by Angela Brooksbank are like a dream lulling your toddler to sleep.

toddler books good night good night

Good Night, Good Night


In this longer version of the classic The Going to Bed Book, author and illustrator Sandra Boynton brings more bedtime shenanigans for toddlers to enjoy. It has all the animal characters and fun rhymes of the original board book, but now it’s bigger in size and includes a bonus song.

Go To Sleep In Your Own Bed


Author Candace Fleming and illustrator Lori Nichols bring the childhood concept of not wanting to sleep in your own bed to the farmyard. Will the animals ever settle down in their own beds? With a refrain that matches the title, this is one parents can relate to and toddlers will enjoy chiming in on.

Books for Toddlers about Emotions

toddler books the color monster

The Color Monster


Toddlers can explore and untangle common emotions—like sadness, anger and happiness—in a safe way with Anna Llenas' color monster. There’s a different color for each emotion with collage-style illustrations and a sweet surprise at the end.

toddler books the feelings book

The Feelings Book


The bright, childlike illustrations from author and illustrator Todd Parr express the many feelings and moods young children experience. With a silly and sympathetic approach to what can be a heavy topic, this book shows toddlers that all their emotions are okay.

toddler books the pout pout fish

The Pout-Pout Fish


A pouty fish spreads his gloomy mood all throughout the sea, and it seems no efforts to cheer him will work. It takes a big surprise to turn his frown upside down! Fun rhymes with repetitive verses by Deborah Diesen and colorful pictures by Dan Hanna add playful touches that will have young readers doing anything but pouting.

The Bad Seed


Once a seed goes bad, can it ever be good again? Toddlers will laugh out loud as they explore the answer to this question told from the unique point of view of a “baaaaaaaaaad” sunflower seed. Author Jory John’s amusing take on acting out is enhanced by the humor in the illustrations by Pete Oswald.

toddler books the rabbit listened

The Rabbit Listened


When a young child’s amazing block creation gets knocked down, different animals try to make it better. None of them quite get it right until a rabbit comes along to be by the child’s side and listen. Cori Doerrfeld’s expert use of straightforward language and white space combine for a story that arms toddlers with a way to deal with disappointment.

Related: Baby & Toddler Books That Celebrate Diversity & Inclusion

Humorous Books for Toddlers

toddler books dont let the pigeon drive the bus

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!


Breaking the fourth wall, a bus driver asks children readers not to let the pigeon drive the bus. Hilarity ensues as the pigeon’s pleading to drive the bus turns into a full-on tantrum! This Caldecott Medal winner by Mo Willems is the first of many pigeon stories that will delight young readers.

Dozens of Doughnuts


LouAnn is a bear who wants to fill up with doughnuts before hibernating, but her friends keep dropping by until there are no more left. Author Carrie Finison’s rhyming text includes a fun refrain that gets interrupted by the “ding dong” of a doorbell, and toddlers will love chiming in on it. Brianne Farley’s doughnut illustrations will make readers’ mouths water.

toddler books the book with no pictures

The Book With No Pictures


This book doesn’t need pictures to have little ones and adults laughing out loud! Author and actor B.J. Novak—yes, the one from The Office—exploits the fact that all the words in the book have to be said aloud to get readers to say all kinds of silly words and phrases.


Dinosaur Kisses


Having just hatched, a little dinosaur explores the world. When Dinah sees a kiss, her attempts to try one go all wrong as she stomps, chomps and whomps her way into trouble. A silly read from author and illustrator David Ezra Stein with a main character to match!

toddler books soaked!



It seems like it’s going to be a boring, rainy day for a grumpy bear. Add in a hula-hooping moose, a badger with an umbrella, and a sweater-clad rabbit, and it turns out being soaked maybe isn’t so bad. Author and illustrator Abi Cushman’s expressive characters bring so much personality to an already witty story.

toddler books don't push the button

Don't Push The Button


This interactive book makes it okay for toddlers to break the one rule of not pushing the button. When they do, hilarious things happen with Larry the purple monster! Encourage your child’s curiosity in this first in a series of rule-breaking books written and illustrated by Bill Cotter.

Books for Toddlers about Friendship

toddler books bear came along

Bear Came Along


In this Caldecott Honor book by Richard T. Morris, Bear sets out on the river alone. As each new group of animals comes along, they learn an adventure is better with friends. The expressive illustrations by LeUyen Pham bring the story and the characters to life for little readers!

Little Elliot, Big City


Little Elliot is an elephant who often feels small in the big city. When he helps an even smaller creature, they form a lasting friendship. This is the first in a series of books by author and illustrator Mike Curato that are sweetly nostalgic with relatable themes for toddlers and older readers alike.

toddler books penguin and pinecone

Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story


Penguin knows the pinecone he found in the snow belongs in the forest, but it’s hard to say goodbye to a new friend. The next time Penguin visits Pinecone, he sees how love can grow even when friends are apart. Author and illustrator Salina Yoon’s bright and straightforward illustrations will draw in young readers.

toddler books when a dragon moves in

When A Dragon Moves in


A boy’s imagination and the perfect sandcastle bring a dragon friend to life. The illustrations by Howard McWilliam add to the mischief in this delightful story by Jodi Moore. It will keep toddlers laughing and guessing whether the dragon is real.

Toddler Books Stick and Stone

Stick and Stone


When a pinecone pokes fun at Stone, Stick stands up for him and a friendship forms. Then it’s Stone’s turn to help when Stick gets in trouble. The sparse, rhyming text written by Beth Ferry is filled with a cleverness that is matched by the lively illustrations of Tom Lichtenheld.

toddler books bear is a bear

Bear Is A Bear


Any child with a favorite stuffed animal or lovey will relate to the friendship between a girl and her bear in this tale by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Dan Santat. Parents will also enjoy being along on the journey as the girl grows and her relationship changes with her stuffed animal.

Related: The Best Bilingual Board Books for Toddlers

Classic Picture Books for Toddlers

toddler books the very hungry catepillar is a classic fiction book for kids

The Very Hungry Caterpillar


The die-cut pages of Eric Carle’s wildly popular story about a hungry caterpillar create an interactive experience for toddlers. The illustrations are colorful, and the story is playful. As the caterpillar eats its way through the days of the week, it also finds a way into the hearts of readers.

toddler books courderoy



When toy bear Corduroy notices he has lost a button, he goes on a nighttime adventure to find it in the department store he calls home. When morning comes and his button is still missing, it takes the love of a little girl to show Corduroy what home really is. This classic character from author and illustrator Don Freeman has been sparking the imagination of young readers for more than 50 years!

Toddler Books Where The Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are


Join in on the wild rumpus as misbehaving Max sets off on the journey of a lifetime to the island of the Wild Things. The distinct and detailed style created by author and illustrator Maurice Sendak earned him a Caldecott Medal. It’s a tale that has entertained generations of readers!

toddler books harold and the purple crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon


In a celebration of the imagination, author and illustrator Crockett Johnson lets little Harold use his purple crayon to create this classic tale. Toddlers will see themselves in the character of pajama-wearing Harold and delight in the twists of what he draws with his purple crayon.

toddler books chicka chicka boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom


Toddlers get a fun introduction to the alphabet as all the letters climb up the coconut tree. The chanting text by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault reads like a song, and the bold illustrations by Lois Ehlert add movement to the story.

Books about Vehicles for Toddlers

Little Blue Truck


A spirited cast of animals accompanies Little Blue on a ride where they lend a helping hand to a dump truck that gets stuck in the mud. Alice Schertle’s rhyming text is filled with truck and animal sounds, and Jill McElmurry’s illustrations bring out the quirkiness of each character. This is the first in a series of adventures to take toddlers on a ride!

toddler books freight train

Freight Train


Young readers will experience the unique feeling of watching a freight train roll by as they turn the pages of this concept book about colors. Author and illustrator Donald Crews doesn’t need many words to create a sense of movement, and the bold Caldecott Honor illustrations will help toddlers learn their colors.

Love Is A Truck


This quick read by Amy Novesky fits the attention spans of toddlers. The high-contrast reds against the greyscale illustrations by Sara Gillingham will be of high interest to any truck enthusiast. So many ways to love a truck and each other!

Toddler Books Good Night Good Night Construction Site

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site


Roll into bedtime as the tough trucks of the construction site settle down for bed. Toddlers will see that the trucks have a bedtime routine a lot like their own and that even cranes snuggle up with teddy bears. The rhyming text by Sherri Duskey Rinker and soothing sunsets of Tom Lichtenheld’s illustrations will lull little ones to sleep.

Race Car Dreams


This tale about a tired race car will have your toddler shifting down for bed rather than racing around the house. With rhythmic stanzas by author Sharon Chriscoe and dreamy, nighttime scenes from illustrator Dave Mottram, it’s a great, relaxing read for energetic youngsters.

Toddler Books My Truck Is Stuck

My Truck Is Stuck


Reinforce counting skills in a subtle, fun way when a truck gets stuck in a pothole. Sharp rhymes by Kevin Lewis include a refrain for toddlers to repeat during the reading. Illustrator Daniel Kirk includes a mystery of the truck’s disappearing load that will have youngsters wanting to take another look at the book.

Inspirational Books for Toddlers

Toddler Books The Wonderful Things You Will Be

The Wonderful Things You Will Be


In this touching read-aloud book from Emily Winfield Martin, a parent muses on all the possible things their child could become. Toddlers will love looking at all the different babies and children, especially in the wordless gatefold that beautifully demonstrates the book’s message in picture form.

Toddler Books All Are Welcome

All Are Welcome


Celebrate the diversity of a classroom in this tale by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman in a bright palette of colors. The rhyming text with the refrain of “All are welcome here” is an inclusive introduction to school for any toddler about to start a more structured daycare or pre-k setting.

Toddler Books Outside In

Outside In


The lyrical text by Deborah Underwood reminds readers of all the ways the outside world influences their lives, even when inside. The Caldecott Honor ink and watercolor illustrations by Cindy Derby invite readers into the beauty of nature in this thoughtful reminder of what awaits outside.

Love Makes A Family


From a weekend tea party to a kiss at bedtime, this sweet ode to families of all types by author and illustrator Sophie Beer shows some of the ways they share their love. The vibrant illustrations are eye-catching and detailed enough for repeat reads.

The Day You Begin


The award-winning team of author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrator Rafael López explore what it feels like to be different. The young characters discover that even though it can be hard, sharing your differences creates a space in the world for everyone.

Go Be Wonderful


From her first cries to the first day of school, Daisy’s extended family celebrates all the ways she is wonderful. This encouraging read about unconditional love by Donna Gephart is complete with illustrations by Francesca Chessa that showcase the vibrant personality of the young main character.

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