The Best Books Age by Age: Toddlers

Baby Happy, Baby Sad
Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Check out some of our favorite books for toddlers.
Courtesy of Scholastic
Courtesy of Scholastic

The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma

By Diane and Christyan Fox

In this creative retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Cat attempts to read Dog the classic story, but our canine friend has a lot of questions and improvements to make. The book's kooky sense of humor will have children giggling in no time.

Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press
Courtesy of Peter Pauper Press

Hank Has A Dream

By Rebecca Dudley

An adorable critter tells his hummingbird pal all about the adventure he had in his sleep the night before. Gorgeous side-by-side images show both the "real" world and Hank's imagined fluffy clouds and idyllic forest.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Penguin in Peril

By Helen Hancocks

Three hungry cats kidnap a penguin from the zoo so he will catch fish for them. But when he escapes, the felines face more trouble than they bargained for.

Courtesy of Macmillan
Courtesy of Macmillan

What's Your Favorite Animal?

Various Authors

This compilation features today's most popular picture-book authors and illustrators, including Eric Carle, Mo Willems, and Lucy Cousins. From the domestic cat to the Amazonian Neotropical Lower River Tink-Tink, each response allows the artist's personality and style to shine through, making for a delightful variety of answers.

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster
Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Gaston

By Kelly DiPucchio

Gaston is a bulldog puppy being raised in a litter of poodles, so no matter how hard he tries, he can't quite fit in. But a trip to the park soon proves that his family loves him for who he is, not what he looks like. Adorable illustrations make the heartwarming story even more charming.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Help! We Need a Title!

By Hervé Tullet

Uh-oh, these characters aren't quite ready for readers yet! Young kids will get a kick out of watching them scramble to come up with a tale to tell. This unique book encourages creativity in a manner that's fun for all ages.

Courtesy of Beach Lane Books
Courtesy of Beach Lane Books

Goatilocks and the Three Bears

By Erica S. Perl

When the always-hungry Goatilocks tests the bears' porridge, she can't resist munching down on the bowl and spoon -- and that's just the beginning! Young readers will love the kooky creature's exploits.

Courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Courtesy of Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The Numberlys

By William Joyce

What if the alphabet did not exist? According to The Numberlys, life would be orderly and dull. But soon the tale's heroes break out hard hats, hammers, and glue guns, and start inventing letters. Gorgeous illustrations will enchant readers of all ages.

Courtesy of HarperCollins
Courtesy of HarperCollins

I Am Otter

By Sam Garton

The curious title character tries to entertain herself at home while her owner -- known as Otter Keeper -- is at work. But the situation soon turns messy when her teddy bear goes missing. The adorable critter -- who originally gained fame through a popular blog -- will win the whole family over.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

I'm My Own Dog

By David Ezra Stein

This book gives readers a comical peek into the life of man's best friend. Our protagonist is a self-reliant canine who fetches his own slippers and can give himself scratches, thankyouverymuch. But when a lonely human follows him home, the dog has no choice but to fetch a leash to lead the man around with.

Courtesy of the Penguin Group
Courtesy of the Penguin Group

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle

Yup, the caterpillar's still hungry! And just like him, when it comes to this book toddlers can't seem to get enough.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

By Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

Be warned: This fun read is likely to inspire many a bear hunt of your own.

Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Freight Train

By Donald Crews

Have a train-crazy kid? This book has great illustrations to help children learn the names of each type of train car.

Courtesy of Harcourt, Inc.
Courtesy of Harcourt, Inc.

The Napping House

By Audrey Wood and Don Wood

We love how this story builds, making tots wonder and anticipate what will happen in the end.

Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers
Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

The Happy Egg

By Ruth Krauss

As you know, toddlers are curious about... everything. This book tackles one interesting phenomenon: how a baby bird comes from an egg!

Courtesy of Scholastic, Inc.
Courtesy of Scholastic, Inc.

Fast Food

By Saxton Freymann

Freymann has a gift for transforming recognizable fruits and veggies into adorable animals and objects.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Yummy Yucky

By Leslie Patricelli

How often do you say "yucky" to the things your kid puts in her mouth? Read this book with her to explain the difference between yummy and yucky -- so she (hopefully) can stop experimenting on her own.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Where's My Teddy?

By Jez Alborough

If your toddler's got a lovey, then chances are he can relate to this book's topic: searching for a missing teddy bear.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Counting Kisses

By Karen Katz

A countdown to bedtime, this book is sure to inspire lots of sweet mom-toddler snuggles.

Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin, Co.
Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin, Co.

Sheep in the Jeep

By Nancy E. Shaw and Margot Apple

Full of fun rhymes, this is a book that your toddler will want to hear again. And again. And... you get the idea.

Courtesy of Candlewick Press
Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Baby Happy, Baby Sad

By Leslie Patricelli

You know from personal experience how quickly your child's moods can swing. This book creatively helps toddlers understand this pair of emotions.

Originally published in the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine. Updated December 2014.

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