It’s never too early to read to your child, but what do you do about a toddler who never wants to sit down with a book? Different kinds of books attract different kids, and choosing one that your little one will love will make all the difference.  

“Interactive books keep curious and busy toddlers engaged while exposing them to literature. Touch and feel books, lift the flap books, or any book that has movement are also great options,” says Holly Burns, author of the book Movement Activities from A-Z. “Books that contain simple, playful, rhyming are also perfect for toddlers”

Here are some of our favorite books that will be sure to catch the attention of any finicky toddler.

Interactive Books

  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden Books, May 1, 2001). One of the best first books for babies and toddlers, this book lets kids pat the bunny, put their finger through the ring and play peek-a-boo. It is short, to the point and interactive enough to keep kids engaged.
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (Margaret K. McElderry Books; Aniversary edition, September 8, 2009). This book takes kids on a trek through grass, mud and water for a fun adventure on the trail of a bear!
  • Where’s Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz (Little Simon; 1 edition, September 1, 2000). This pop-up book is specifically designed for toddlers who can lift flaps to find hands, eyes and other body parts.

Books about Family

  • Are You My Mother? by P.D Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition, June 12, 1960). This classic story of a darling baby bird searching for his mother is sure to delight your child and bring back nostalgic memories. The simple repeated text and darling pictures make it a perfect choice for toddlers.
  • Owl Babies by Martin Waddell Candlewick Press (MA); Illustrated. edition (1996). A heartwarming book about three frightened young owls left alone while their mother goes to hunt for food. Young ones are sure to relate to the owls when they feel the relief of their mother’s return.
  • Is your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino (Scholastic Audio Books; Book/CD edition, June 1, 2006). This simple book about baby animals and their mothers is perfect for young children learning animal names. The riddles with rhymes are also fun to complete. 

Skill-building Books


  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. (Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition, July 20, 2010). A must-have for any toddler library, this classic book is has a simple rhyming story and colorful pictures. It is perfect for teaching your little one colors as well as animal names.
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood (HMH Books, March 1, 1999). This rhyming story follows the adventures of Silly Sally as she takes a trip to town. Her backwards, sideways and upside down trip will also introduce your child to simple directional words.
  • Teeth are not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick (Free Spirit Publishing , April 15, 2003). As your toddler’s teeth come in, he may have the urge to bite anything in his path. This is the perfect book to help him understand that we don’t use our teeth to bite others.

Just for Fun

  • Jesse Bear What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom (Aladdin, March 1, 1996). This fun rhyming book follows Jesse Bear and all the things he wears in a day. In addition to clothes, he wears the sun on his legs and sleep in his eyes! Your toddler will love the beautiful illustrations and fun, rhyming storyline.
  • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (Viking Juvenile; First Edition edition, May 5, 2005). This bedtime story is sure to sound familiar to parents and teachers. As soon as the lights go out, the llama drama begins. This heartwarming story will help remind your little one that you are always nearby, even at night.
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer (HarperCollins; 1st edition, June 3, 1999). This funny story about a dog who can’t bark is perfect for little ones learning animal sounds. Your child is sure to love the part when George moos and oinks, as well as the surprise ending!

These books hold the key to wonderful story hours that set a foundation for a lifetime of reading!