Top 100 Books for Toddlers: ParentDish Picks

Filed under: Books for Kids, Gear Guides: Toddlers & Preschoolers

Top 100 Books for Toddlers picture

Pop-up books like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" are a fun way to get toddlers excited about reading. Credit: Amazon

As an infant moves into toddlerhood, books become a great companion. A young child reacts more, beginning to better understand what a book is. Preferences for one book to be read more than another may come into play at this age. Here are 100 great books, listed alphabetically, to help instill a love for reading in your little one.

1. "17 Kings and 42 Elephants" by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Patricia McCarthy (1987): Funny rhyming verse about elephants and kings and their journey through the jungle.

2. "A Boy, a Dog and a Frog" by Mercer Mayer (1967): A fun, almost wordless book about a boy who takes a bucket and a dog for a walk in the woods and they come upon a frog.

3. "A Hole Is to Dig: A First Book of Definitions" by Ruth Kraus, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (1952): A classic, detailing a world for children to explore.

4. "Abuela" by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (1991): A little girl gets her wish when she wonders what would happen if she could fly.

5. "All About Alfie" by Shirley Hughes (1997): A classic tale about the adventures of Alfie and his little sister, Annie Rose.

6. "Amos & Boris" by William Steig (1971): A whale and a mouse carry on a friendship that is wonderful for teaching teamwork and cooperation.

7. "Angela's Wings" by Eric Jon Nones (1995): Angela wakes up one morning with a pair of wings and no one quite knows what to make of her.

8. "Angry Arthur" by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura (1989): Arthur refuses to go to bed and, in resisting his mother's request, throws a ferocious tantrum -- and doesn't remember why once it is over.

9. "Annie Bananie" by Leah Komaicko, illustrated by Laura Cornell (1997): A lively girl (and her pet porcupine) come to terms with a friend leaving town.

10. "Anno's Journey" by Mitsumasa Anno (1978): Arriving at the shore, a man sets off on travels through a rich countryside.

11. "Ape in a Cape: An Alphabet of Odd Animals" by Fritz Eichenberg (1952): Animals not normally represented take over in this book that captivates children.

12. "Applebet: An ABC" by Clyde Watson, illustrated by Wendy Watson (1982): A farmer and her daughter embark on an alphabetic journey to bring apples to the county fair.

13. "Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman (1960): When a baby bird falls out of a nest he goes to find his mother, mistaking a few farm animals for her along the way.

14. "B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet" by Isabel Wilner, illustrated by Elsa Kleven (1990): The story of the Nativity told in rhymed couplets accompanied by lush illustrations.

15. "Baboon" by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben (1997): Meet a baboon as he explores the world, learning what a big and varied place it is.

16. "Baby Says" by John Steptoe (1988): A baby and an older sibling begin a gentle game.

17. "Bamboozled" by David Legge (1995): Grandfather's place has a few things out of order. Children delight in noticing that water from an elephant's trunk washes dishes.

18. "Bark, George" by Jules Fieffer (1999): What happens when George the dog can oink, moo and make other animal sounds, but cannot bark?

19. "The Bear and the Fly" by Paula Winter (1988): Children delight in the chaos that ensues when three bears eating dinner encounter one fly.

20. "The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom" compiled and illustrated by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So (2006): Arranged in zoological fashion, discover 200 poems celebrating animals.

21."The Biggest Boy" by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Nancy Tafuri (1995): Billy's parents tell him about being a big and little boy.

22. "Bibs and Boots" by Alison Lester (1997): A delightful book that considers all the different clothes a baby wears for a day out and about. Other Lester books to consider include traveling around in "Bumping and Bouncing," noise-making in "Crashing and Splashing" and a child's emotions in "Happy and Sad."

23. "Blackboard Bear" by Martha Alexander (1969): A little boy who wants to join the big kids' play invents an imaginary friend, his blackboard bear.

24. "Blueberries for Sal" by Robert McCloskey (1948): Set in Maine, this 1948 classic illustrates the parallel blueberry picking excursions of a little girl and a baby bear.

25. "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin Jr. (1962): A classic with bright, colorful Eric Carle collages and sing-songy questions that delight children.

26. "Brown Cow, Green Grass, Yellow Mellow Sun" by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Victoria Raymond (1995): Colors play a starring role in this story that starts with a brown cow and ends with yellow butter on brown pancakes.

27. "Building" by Elisha Cooper (1999): Breezy watercolor illustrations bring a vacant lot to life as construction of a building moves through its paces.

28. "Can't Sleep" by Chris Raschka (1995): A dog and a moon take turns being protective during the day and night, respectively.

29."The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson (1945): The simple story of a boy who plants a seed, takes care of it and, one day, grows a carrot.

30. "Clap Your Hands" by Lorinda Bryan Cauley (1992): An inviting book that encourages everyone to join in, rubbing your tummy and clapping your hands.

31. "Color Zoo" by Lois Ehlert (1989): Watch shapes and animals reshuffle from page to page, hidding and reappearing on brightly illustrated pages.

32. "Come Away from the Water, Shirley" by John Burningham (1977): A child visits the seashore with her parents. While they snooze, she finds adventures with pirates and treasures.

33. "Corduroy" by Don Freeman (1968): A stuffed bear living in a department store finally leaves to live with a little girl.

34. "Dear Zoo" by Rod Campbell (1996): A repetitive story of a child who is writing to the zoo for the right pet, with flaps for young readers to discover the animal sent by the zoo.

35. "Dial-a-Croc" by Mike Dumbleton, illustrated by Ann James (1991): Vanessa wants to make some money, so she catches a crocodile and rents him out to all sorts of places.

36. "Don't Take your Snake for a Stroll" by Karin Ireland, illustrated by David Catrow (2003): A "what if" tale of a boy figuring out which exotic animals he shouldn't take on a walk.

37. "Everywhere Babies" by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2001): Rhyming verse about babies everywhere doing everyday things.

38. "Feelings" by Aliki (1984): A thorough catalog of emotions that can help children start learning how to explain their own.

39. "Fire Truck" by Peter Sis (1999): Bold illustrations take the reader along with a little boy as he wakes up one day as a fire truck. Companion books include "Trucks, Trucks, Trucks," "Ship Ahoy!" and "Dinosaur!"

40. "Flappy Waggy Wiggly" by Amanda Leslie (2000): A peek-a-boo book with a flap and animal sound twist to it.

41. "Flora McDonnell's ABC" by Flora McDonnell (1997): Introducing young readers to uppercase and lowercase letters, McDonnell displays some unusual, memorable and colorful items to connect to each letter.

42. "Fortunately" by Remy Charlip (1993): Ned's invitation to a party gives Charlip occasion to introduce good luck ... and bad luck, too.

43. "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle (1997): As toddlers are learning their body parts, they'll wiggle their way through this characteristic Carle collage book.

44. "Good for You: Toddler Rhymes for Toddler Times" by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (2001): A thoroughly active book highlighting all the skills and actions a toddler can get into, such as learning "please" or "thank you" or drinking from a cup.

45. "Good Night, Gorilla" by Peggy Rathmann (1994): As a zookeeper makes his rounds, a gorilla follows and releases the other animals along the way. A fun book that is sure to be a child's favorite.

46. "Happy Birth Day!" by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley (2002): For those parents who want to answer the inevitable childhood question "What was it like the day I was born?"

47. "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson (1955): Harold can't sleep one night, so he takes his purple crayon, drawing various places along his walk.

48. "Harry the Dirty Dog" by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham (1956): In this childhood favorite, Harry enjoys his outings, getting dirtier and dirtier along the way, finally having to beg for a bath to convince his family who he is.

49. "Here Come Poppy and Max" by Lindsey Gardiner (2000): Kids enjoy imitating a variety of animals, along with Poppy and her dog Max.

50. "How I Became a Pirate" by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon (2003): Jeremy is recruited by some pirates who admire his digging skills and soon the boy is off on high adventures. However, the life of a pirate is not all wonderful and Jeremy starts to miss his parents.

51. "I Heard a Little Baa" by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrations by Louise Phillips (1998): A flap book for children to learn more about animals and the sounds they make.

52. "I Love You More" by Laura Duksta, illustrated by Karen Keesler (2007): Love from a child's and a parent's perspectives are presented as a flip book.

53. "I Went Walking" by Sue Williams, illustrated by Julie Vivas (1990): Accompanied by watercolor illustrations, the text follows a simple statement, followed by a question and a response that will have young children looking ahead.

54. "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands: A Pop-Up Book" by David A. Carter (1997): This well-liked book offers a twist on the popular song, which leads children through a variety of movements along with pop-up animals.

55. "Inch by Inch" by Leo Lionni (1962): By an award-winning author, this book trails an inchworm who spends time measuring the world around him.

56. "Is That an Elephant Over There?" by Rebecca Elgar (1998): Enjoy simple text as jungle animals hide in this lift-the-flap book.

57. "It Looked Like Spilt Milk" by Charles G. Shaw (1988): Basic text with repetition, shape recognition and a nod to the changing shapes of clouds.

58. "Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?" by Nancy W. Carlstrom, illustrated by Bruce Degen (1986): Rhymes follow the decisions a young child makes during the day.

59. "Jump Like a Frog!" by Kate Burns (1999): This fun activity book encourages children to mimic animals.

60. "The Lady with the Alligator Purse" by Nadine Bernard Westcott (1990): A silly story about a mother who calls the doctor, the nurse and the lady with the alligator purse.

61. "Latkes and Applesauce: A Hanukkah Story" by Fran Manuskin, illustrated by Robin Spowart (1990): The traditional Hanukkah dinner of latkes and applesauce is impossible when a blizzard appears, as well as two strays.

62. "The Adventures of Lowly Worm" by Richard Scarry (1981): A memorable Scarry story, complete with common, familiar items with simple text.

63. "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey (1941): A family of ducklings on its way to the park, stop traffic in Boston.

64. "The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate" by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlin (1986): A read-aloud book about a mother who was a pirate and now wishes to return to the sea.

65. "Max's First Word" by Rosemary Wells (1979): The first in a series of books featuring rabbits, meet independent Max and his talkative sister, Ruby.

66. "Mouse Paint" by Ellen Stoll Walsh (1989): Pots of paints give three white mice plenty to dive into, allowing children to see delightful colors as the mice traipse through paint puddles.

67. "Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present" by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak (1962): In a overly commercial world, this book is a testament to the simple act of generosity between a girl and her mother.

68. "The Napping House" by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood (1984): A bedtime book about a house where everyone is asleep.

69. "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" by Glen Rounds (1989): Unique illustrations for this standard childhood favorite will encourage children to participate in the song.

70. "On Mother's Lap" by Ann Herbert Scott, illustrated by Glo Coalson (1992): Michael enjoys his mother's lap, especially with all his toys, however Baby makes the lap a little too crowded for Michael.

71. "One Sun: A Book of Terse Verse: by Bruce McMillan (1990): An introductory rhyming book using paired words to match images at the seashore.

72. "Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm" by Alice and Martin Provensen (1974): Re-issued in 1992, this book follows the adventures of the authors' animals on their farm.

73. "Over the Moon" by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Scott Nash (1998): Dive in to this sort of backstage look at the nursery rhyme as the reader is introduced to cows who jump under, through and next to the moon.

74. "Peek-a-Moo!" By Marie Torres Cimarusti, illustrated by Stephanie Petersen (1998): Kids will enjoy the simple, repetitious question with a different answer under each flap.

75. "Peter's Chair" by Ezra Jack Keats (1998): An older sibling comes to terms with the birth of a little sister in this classic book by an award-winning author.

76. "Pete's a Pizza" by William Steig (1998): How to turn a frown into a smile? Turn the sulking child into a pizza.

77. "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg (1985): The magic of a master children's book author meets a steam train as it chugs along, bringing children to see Santa Claus. An annual favorite read.

78. "Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young" by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marc Brown (1986): More than 200 rhymes to get in the habit of reading to children.

79. "Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe" by Tana Hoban (1986): Vibrant photos of familiar objects for toddlers to enjoy.

80. "Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever" by Richard Scarry (1963): Overrun by Scarry's usual busy animals, this book is chock full of interesting and engaging activities and words for kids to delight in. This updated version includes Spanish words, as well.

81. "Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?" by Richard Scarry (1968): A busy book with animals showing all sorts of activities -- from baking to paving roads.

82. "Sam's Cookie" by Barbro Lindgren, illustrated by Eva Eriksson (1982): Action ensues when Sam's cookie is pilfered by the dog and each gets angry at the other. Mom saves the day!

83. "Sheep in a Jeep" by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple (1986): A compact text introduces the fun as a flock of sheep take a drive in a Jeep.

84. "Sleepy Bears" by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kerry Argent (2002): Read about the active dreams of six hibernating bear cubs.

85. "Snow Music" by Lynne Rae Perkins (2003): Familiar footprints across the snow get children accustomed to the magic of snowfall.

86. "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats (1962): Dressed in his red snowsuit, Peter goes to explore the snowy city landscape in this bold 1962 Caldecott Medal winning picture book.

87. "Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails" by Nancy Tafuri (1988): Identify animals by a part of their bodies in this question-and-answer-formatted book.

88. "Stella, Fairy of the Forest" by Marie-Louise Gay (2006): Join an engaging girl and her dog, Sam, as they journey in the forest, with Stella imparting her wisdom of fairies.

89. "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter (1902): Peter just won't listen to his mother, heading into the MacGregor's garden, with fearful consequences. With the original watercolors, it is a beloved, ageless first story that continues along in a series and is available in numerous formats.

90. "The Tree" by Dana Lyons, illustrated by David Danioth (2002): Amazing illustrations and a celebration of the sacred earth are shown through the Douglas fir's life cycle in the Pacific Rain Forest.

91. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle (1969): A very hungry caterpillar, depicted in Carle's colorful collages, sets out to eat throughout his life cycle.

92. "Toddlerobics: Animal Fun" by Zita Newcome (1999): Rhyming and active illustrations will get any toddler up and moving.

93. "Town Mouse, Country Mouse" by Jan Brett (1994): Brett's exquisite, detailed style illustrates this classic changing-places story.

94. "We Have a Baby" by Cathryn Falwell (1999): Introducing the idea of a new baby to an older sibling, this books tells the child that a baby is to love.

95. "We Were Tired of Living in a House" by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (1999): Three children, who are tired of living in a house, gather up their belongings and test out alternative accommodations, such as trees and caves. The sister and two brothers gather more possessions as they march along, eventually returning to where they started.

96. "When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry" by Molly Bang (1999): This story is a good conversation starter for talking about tantrums, as Sophie loses her temper.

97. "Where Does It Go?" By Margaret Miller (1998): This fun question book ("Do crayons go in the cat's dish?") might get the kids giggling, but adults might not always find its reality humorous.

98. "Where's Spot?" By Eric Hill (1980): Nonsensical fun as a dog goes in search of her puppy, Spot.

99. "Who Hops?" By Katie Davis (2001): A colorful book that asks silly questions and prompts for serious answers.

100. "Wooleycat's Musical Theater" by Dennis Hysom, illustrated by Christine Walker (2003): Ten Mother Goose rhymes with a twist -- and a few morals.


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