We LOVE to read in our house so I’m doing a roundup of our favorite books. Just like with our toys, every now and then I look for some new books to freshen up our stash and I like to see what other people love in their family- so we’re sharing what we love right here. We go the library quite often and pick up some fresh books but when I want to buy some new books I do a quick search on Amazon or Usborne books. You never really know which book is going to be a hit and which is going to be a miss until it gets here so here are the ones that come with a big stamp of approval from my little crew.
For the Babes
I start reading to my babies right away but an infant isn’t going to curl up on your lap and listen to a story- not in my experience anyway. Instead they watch you read and want to mimic what you’re doing so they’ll rip the book right out of your hands and try to turn the pages just like you do. Heavy duty cardboard books with pictures is what you want for a one year old (or almost 1 year olds in our case). All the paper books and especially the pop-up books that they love so much are ripped when they get into the hands of an infant!
At this point we’re trying to give my youngest an interest in books so I have them hanging around all the time and I find him practicing opening and closing the pages. One type of book you might find that they really love is a book with buttons that make a sound when pressed and all the books by Eric Carle- it’s something about those simple bold pictures that little ones love. As their vocabulary starts to expand beyond one little word here and there, their interest and ability to focus on a book will too- that’s what we’ve found with my family. Here are a couple of our favorites for infants.
Our First Books
Brown Bear, Brown Bear // Blue Boat // Red Truck // Little Blue Truck // Gossie & Gertie // Fifteen Animals
When we eventually start sitting, reading, and following a story these are the first few books they would always want me to read them. Somewhere between 18 months and two years old my kids actually enjoy choosing a book and reading, and typically grab the same books over and over at naptime and bedtime. It’s funny how both Cam and Elena developed the same preferences in books when they hit this age range. Silly books with rhymes and repetition seem to be the common theme with this group of favorites. All of these books above are cardboard books and I still won’t leave my two and a half year old with a paperback book alone in her crib (I will find the pages ripped the next morning).
Some highlights for the group above:
Our all time favorite is Red Truck. It’s the first book my son fell in love with and he could basically recite it by heart because we read it so much. It’s a cute little story that involves rescuing a school bus (little kids are obsessed with school buses) and it rhymes which helps them remember the words and say them with you. Elena loved it just as much when she got into her stories. Blue Boat is written by the same author and follows the same theme.
Little Blue Truck is the next best book in the bunch. It’s a book about teamwork with a bunch of farm animals assisting in a rescue- everything interesting to toddlers.
The Eric Carle books are the best books to work on colors and naming animals. We love them all but this particular Brown Bear, Brown Bear has little windows to open and close on each page.
Two Year Olds
These books above are my two year olds most favorite books that we are currently reading every day and they are so cute! All Better! is a special book I purchased from Usborne books and I had no idea she was going to fall in love with the way she did. Since we’re all obsessed with boo-boos in our house this book is perfect for her. Every page has a different animal who has a boo-boo and you have to ‘clean it, kiss it, and put a band-aid’ on it before saying “All Better.” Every page has a band-aid that you actually lift off the book and place onto the animal’s boo-boo. This is a great gift for a young toddler and I love that it’s so interactive.
The Giant Jumperee is a book we grabbed from our library and we ended up purchasing it afterwards. It’s a total favorite with both Cameron and Elena and it actually made my husband and I laugh when we got to the end of the book. It has animals, repetition, and a little bit of suspense till you get to the surprise at the end. Such a good book for two and even three year olds!
Last but not least, this sweet book called Love you Forever is a great bedtime story to read to your child. It’s loving and has a little song that you’ll have to make up a tune to. My daughter just adores it and since the message is so sweet I started including it in some baby gifts to start other little one’s libraries.
Three Year Olds
My Beastly Brother // Where the Wild Things Are // Giraffes Can’t Dance // How I Became A Pirate // Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? // Pig the Pug // The Foot Book
My Beastly Brother is a silly story about a monster family where the older brother constantly teases his younger sibling but when the younger brother truly needs him big brother is there to help. We received this book through a book chain we participated in which was so cool to get a bunch of free books delivered to us from people across the country. The holiday wine chain didn’t really work out for me this year but I’ll definitely do another book chain!
My son is fascinated by The Wild Things which is one of my favorite stories to read to him because I loved it when I was little as well. The amazing pictures of the monsters, a.k.a. Wild Things, is what my son loves about it.
Giraffes Can’t Dance is a story about overcoming your insecurities and finding your own way. I like this message in light of the bullying that takes place with children so young in our society. Not to mention the beautiful illustrations.
How I Became A Pirate is a book about a boy sneaking away from his family to join a bunch of pirates on a mission to bury a treasure. Even though he enjoyed the lack of rules and nobody to tell him to eat his broccoli, he ends up missing his home after a few nights at sea with no goodnight kissses or bedtime stories. The story ends with a buried treasure and boy who got home just in time for soccer practice.
We have so many books we love to read but these ones made the cut when we were sorting through our very most favorites. Dr. Suess books are the most fun for us to read everyday. These two happen to be the favorites right now but we love all of them. My son loves the rhyming and the sounds, and eventually can read us the stories because he’s memorized every word. These books have been around forever and little ones enjoy them today just as much as I did when I was young.
Pig the Pug is a funny story about sharing and karma, really. Without spoiling the story, bad things happen when you don’t be nice and share!
For Your Animal Lovers
After we read our bedtime story I turn on my son’s nightlight and he falls asleep while looking at this 1,000 Animals book I purchased from Usborne books around Christmastime. My son is obsessed with wildlife and if you have a three year old that thinks he’s Chris or Martin from Wild Kratts too, you want this book. There’s no story but rather a giant reference book of different animal species for young kids and my son can. not. get. enough. I provided the link above. It’s his all time favorite book to just look at and study and sometimes I hear him pointing out the animals and describing them like the Wild Kratts guys when he’s in his room.
Search And Find Books
Search & Find Animal Friends // Find the Silly Animals // Moonlight Animals // I Spy Numbers // I Spy Letters // 3D Spot What! // Marvel Heroes
We introduced a good old fashioned Where’s Waldo book to Cam when he had just turned three and he went crazy for it. (I totally forgot how hard those things are, by the way). Eventually he had every page memorized and we decided to get him a few different types of search and finds. Now they are favorites for both my two and three year old. I love these books because they are fun but because they can go on, and on, and on these are off-limits for bedtime. Here’s our top favorite search and finds- we’ve definitely picked up some duds but I can say these ones are good.
From easiest to hardest:
Search and Find Animal Friends is simple with big bold pictures that’s perfect for two years old and too easy for a three year old.
Find the Silly Animals is the next step up with mismatched animal heads and bodies. You find two per page and can work on naming your animals in the process. This is Elena’s favorite!
Moonlight Animals is a unique search and find book where you need to use the flashlight to locate the animals. Each page teaches about one animal and then lists a bunch of items relevant to that particular animal to go search for with the flashlight. This is a super cool book but another one that takes a while to get through so it’s more for play than for bedtime. I also noticed they have a Moonlight Ocean as well.
The I Spy series is one my two and three year old can learn from. I like that these incorporate teaching the alphabet and counting. One of the things my three year old is focusing on in preschool is grouping like things together and you can work on that concept with these books. Everything on each page has something to do with the letter or number you’re trying to find.
The 3D Spot What! book and the Marvel Heroes search and find are challenging! They totally stump me sometimes but they’re good books to grow into. The 3D Spot actually comes with a little 3D glasses to assist in locating the items on each page.
Recordable Voice Books
I am originally from Boston and we have lots of family that live four hours away but that doesn’t mean my kids can’t have their family read them their bedtime stories. My sister gave us this book a few years ago and it’s actually a recording of her voice telling the story as you turn each page. Both my kiddos get a kick out the fact that they can hear Aunty Amanda when we choose this book. It’s just one more way you can stay connected with your family that lives a far distance away or it’s even great if mom or dad travel for work and can’t be there to read to them. There are so many different recordable voice books out there- like this one, this one, and this one.
These timeless stories make thoughtful gifts. When I purchase a baby gift off of a registry I like to put at least something small and thoughtful that I pick out. Typically these books, as well as Love you Forever, are my favorite books to gift.
If you’re from Boston, you probably had (or have) more than one copy of Make Way for Ducklings. My kids have at least two and although it is long and maybe just a little old for them they will sit through the entire story once in a blue moon. Soon enough it will be age approprate.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be has really pretty illustrations and despite it’s beautiful message I think my two year old loves this book due to the pictures on every page.
The Giving Tree brings back so many memories of my childhood for me and I love that I can read it with my children. I was surprised when my three year old sat through this story from start to finish mostly because it’s the only book he likes to read that does not have vibrant pictures. Each page has a black and white sketch but he recently started to really enjoy the story- and the story is so so good.
One thing we haven’t done yet but I really want to try is making a personalized book. There are so many cute ones on I See Me! and Wonderbly even has some personalized search and find books. These are the sweetest little gifts that I think toddlers would the biggest kick out of. From simple goodnight stories, to superheros, to little ballerina stories, you can personalize a book to appeal to any personality. How did I not know about these?!
So now that I’ve shared our favorites please tell me what we’re missing out on in the comments. We’re due for a new batch of books soon so I have my eye out for some good ones!
I provided links to all the books referenced for convenience. This humble blog is purely a hobby and I do not receive commissions from the companies I linked.