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.
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.
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.
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.
- Frogs and check out our books about the frog life cycle for kids too with fiction and non-fiction that kids will love.
- Gardens and plants
- Best Eric Carle Books for Toddlers
- Going to Bed
- Out of this World Space Books and moon books
- Potty Time (books to read together as you go through Potty Training)
- Snow Books
- Earth Worm Books
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.
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.
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.