Holding your toddlers attention may be a challenge, but it's never too early to read to your child, and the learning payoff can be huge. Choosing books that will keep the interest of your little one will make story time more enjoyable for both you and your child. What makes a good read for a toddler and what are some of the best books for little ones?

“A good children’s book for toddlers includes bright, colorful illustrations and animals,” says Audrey Monson, children’s librarian in Centennial, Colorado. “The story should be realistic, something that could really happen to the child so they can relate to it.”

When you are hunting for books for your toddler, keep these simple suggestions in mind:

  • Simple Text. Fewer words on each page will help your child stay focused as the pages change more frequently. No more than one sentence per page will help hold his attention best!
  • Colorful Illustrations. Little ones are captivated by bright colorful illustrations. Simple illustrations will help your child stay focused better than complex or busy pictures.
  • Repetitive Text. Books that contain the same phrase over and over are sure to have your toddler chiming in as you read.   
  • Familiar Subjects. Choose familiar objects such as animals and stories that contain the everyday routines, activities and experiences that are recognizable to your child.
  • Interactive. Young children learn through their senses, so books that contain lift-a-flaps or textured materials for your toddler to feel help make the book more interesting.
  • Sing a Story. Your child is sure to tune in when you show her a book set to the words of her favorite song! Many classic children’s songs have been made into adorable children’s books that you can sing with your child.
  • Sturdy Binding. Find books that are made of materials that your child can play and read over and over without tearing or ruining them. Board books (with strong cardboard pages), fabric, or plastic books are all excellent choices for toddlers.
Best Books for Toddlers:
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden Books, 2001). This classic book is a wonderful interactive read for you to share with your toddler. She will delight in the patting the soft bunny, playing peek-a-boo and peeking at herself in the mirror.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. (Henry Holt and Co., 1996). This classic storybook contains repetitive text that your child will master in no time. As a great added benefit, she will get some practice learning colors names as well as a variety of animals.
  • What Color is Your Underwear? by Sam Lloyd (Cartwheel, 2004). This book may not be as well known as some, but its lift a flap format is a hit with toddlers. The topic is timely for those who are just learning to use the potty (and wear big kid underwear)!
  • Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1998). Rarely will you find a toddler who doesn’t love drumming! This rhythmic text will leave your toes tapping as you follow hundreds of monkeys banging on drums.
  • Mrs. Wishy Washy by Joy Cowley (Wright Group, 1999). Poor Mrs. Wishy Washy only wants her animals to be clean, but how they love the mud! This simple book is sure to become a favorite with farm-loving toddlers.
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Harper Collins, 2005). The perfect bedtime story, this book will leave your little one feeling drowsy as she says goodnight to everything in her room. This book also contains a rhyming text.
  • Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton (Workman Publishing Company, 2000). This bouncy book will get everyone excited to get their jammies on. The fun song-like text is a fun read-along to get your bedtime routine off to a fun start.
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (Little Simon, 2006). A great introduction to the ABC’s, this book brings the alphabet to life.
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1988). Every child should have a favorite Dr. Seuss book. This one is a great one to start with and contains lots of fun rhyming text and nonsense characters.
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen (McElderry, 2003). Hunting for bears has never been such fun! Your child will enjoy acting this one out while you read, as you go hunting through the grass, over the river and through the mud.

Regardless of the books you choose, reading time is a special time for you and your toddler to share. Story time is not only great for bonding, but also for building a lifelong love of reading and books. So snuggle up with your toddler and a few good books. It's time to get reading!