Finding good books to read aloud with your toddlers can be a challenge – some books are too simple as they transition from baby to toddler and others too much before they approach preschoolers. But you want books that will engage, and support their growing love of books and reading. Over the years here at Rainy Day Mum, we have shared our favourite books with you through the activities, crafts, and recipes as well as our themed book lists. These books have been read aloud to my kids and the classes that I have taught in, to make it easy for you to find specific book recommendations we’ve put them all together in one handy place. So here we go our best books to read with toddlers and younger preschoolers.

Picture of a dad and toddler reading a picture book together text on the image reads Book Recommendations for Toddlers

Recommending Picture and Story Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Choosing just 3 that will transition between baby and preschool was difficult but before moving on to the specific theme I thought I would share these 3 classics that I would recommend every family and setting having.

Our most read book when the children were toddlers was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I love this book and was so pleased that both of my children loved it equally as much. It’s fantastic for learning about colours, food, days of the week and the life cycle of the butterfly. Plus, the images are bright and vibrant and with very young children they capture their interest and give time to match words to the images on the page.

For our animal, mad family Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell was a firm favourite requested at bedtime and from my toddler when I was nursing my baby often thrust on her head with a “PLEASE READ”. Although with less story than the previous recommendation this book is fun to read together, and with young children that is important as one of the best ways to encourage reading is by reading for fun and pleasure.

I don’t know whether you can see the theme here for our 3 best read aloud books for toddlers but they all feature animals. Kids in my experience love animals – from the soft toy teddy bears to visits to the zoo, bug catching in the garden and watching nature documentaries. The final book is a classic, one that I loved as a child, my mum before me and my children have adored hearing being read aloud. Although you can purchase just The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – I personally love all of the different animals that she brings to life from Jemima the Puddleduck to Jeremy the Frog. In Beatrix Potter, The Complete Tales all of the classic stories are contained.

Check out the list of our favourite books to read together between 12 months and 24 months which include tips and advice to read aloud even if your toddler is all over the place.

Seasonal Books to Read Together

As the seasons change you can help your child to understand the seasons and what they bring by reading a selection of different books about the coming season as well as during the season. Connecting what they see with fiction and non-fiction helps them to develop an understanding of the world around them. Check out our seasonal book lists for toddlers and preschoolers for recommendations for each specific season.

Fall and Leaves Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Read these recommendations of winter books for toddlers that last through to preschool. With fiction and non-fiction help explain the season with reading

Autumn Books

Winter Books

Featured Themes and Books for March, April and May as part of the FREE Virtual Book Club for Kids. Join along this spring with these book and activities for hands-on learning each week.

Spring Books

Celebrations and Festivals

Much in the same way that you can explore the seasons through the books that you read you can also use books to explore different celebrations and festivals throughout the year. From ones that maybe familiar to your child like Christmas or Halloween to others that are new and give you a chance to explore different cultures around the world.

Not So Scary Halloween Books to Read Aloud to Toddlers and Preschoolers
Carefully chosen Christmas Books ideal to share with toddlers and preschoolers at home or in your setting, from classic tales to popular characters.
Book list of Chinese New Year Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers as well. Celebrate this festival by selecting and adding a couple to your bookshelf.

Not So Scary Halloween Books

Christmas Books

Chinese New Year

Love and Friendship Books for young toddlers and babies
Easter books to read together with babies and toddlers

Love and Friendship books for Valentines

Easter Books

Fun Themes to Explore with Toddlers

As well as events throughout the year I love adding themed books to our book basket throughout the year. Sometimes we would have a book about the season and then a selection of books on a specific theme. I never put more that 7 books in the basket for the week – that would be a book a day but most of the time we would read 2 – 3 books at a time. These themed book lists are ideal to dig into to find the perfect book for you and your children to read together.

Frog and Tadpole Books ideal for reading together at Spring with Toddlers and Preschoolers
collage of frog books with a picture of a frog in the pond above a carton frog with books to read with tots text and then 5 covers of books all about the life cycle to read with preschoolers and toddlers
Explore under the sea with your toddlers and preschoolers as a marine biologist and teachers shares her favourite ocean books to read together.
Sea Turtle swimming image with a collage of book covers all about sea turtles with carton sea turtle and text reading books to read with tots
Get your budding Paleontologist reading with these roaring good reads Dinosaur Books for toddlers and preschoolers - featuring fiction and non-fiction.
Dig down, grab a magnifying glass and go on a bug hunt with these Bug and Butterfly books for your junior naturalists - aimed at Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Fun fiction and non-fiction garden book ideas for reading along with toddlers and preschoolers in spring and summer or as part of a plant or garden unit.
Eric Carle books ideal for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Read aloud and together these dragon books that celebrate cultural diversity, history and a lot of fun ideal for Toddlers and Preschoolers. Whether you are looking for Dragons and Knights, or Chinese Dragons or even St George there are plenty of choices to read.
Cosmic Space Books for your fledgling astronaut, help them soar into the stars with these books for toddlers and preschoolers focused on outer space.

Connecting Books and Activities

When you read aloud and share the books a lot lend themselves to fun and activities that you and your toddler can do together. Here’s just a few of the activities we have done inspired by the books here at Rainy Day Mum. Check out our sensory bins inspired by books as well as these activity ideas inspired by individual books.

Fun crafts and activities for toddlers and preschoolers based on the classic Eric Carle book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Including simple learning activities, and sensory play.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Inspired Activities

More Book Recommendations for Different Ages

My children have now grown up and are at school but still love reading as we produce more book recommendations aimed at them keep checking here on Rainy Day Mum but also check out these fantastic book recommendations for all ages over on 3 Boys and a Dog.

Sharing books together with your young children is a joy, reading aloud, sharing the stories and pointing out the illustrations. Knowing which are good and which books aren't worth it can be challenging so check out the recommended books for reading together from parents and educators.
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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