When you’re about to become a parent, children’s books have an almost magical appeal.
The story lines are sweet and the pictures are adorable.
Many baby showers make a request of “please bring a book instead of a card” and the new parents end up with a flood of volumes.
The problem is that once your child is old enough to make a request for a book, they generally will ask for the same one over and over and over and over and over and over again. Sometimes for weeks on end.
Generally, around the time that you have the book memorized, the characters don’t seem quite as wonderful and you start to think that you could have drawn the pictures yourself.
You now dread story time and even consider hiding a book or two just to get some variety in your life.
As a minimalist, and a mom, I didn’t want the toddler books to overtake the house, but I also didn’t want to be sick of reading the same thing day in and day out.
The books in this post have passed all the tests: the kids love reading them, and so do we, even though we don’t have a huge number of books to rotate.
After spending countless hours reading to my girls during their first years, I decided to compile my favorites. You know, the ones that I enjoy reading as much as they enjoy hearing them again and again and again!
I hope you enjoy this list and find some treasures for your book trove.
1) Bear Snores On
Bear Snores On easily secured the number one spot on list.
This is one book that my husband and I enjoy reading as much as our girls enjoy listening to it. And when you have to read their favorite books 147,392 times a week, that’s a huge plus!
Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman truly crafted a masterpiece with the lovable characters, fun rhymes, and an engaging story.
Every time my younger daughter opens any book to “read to herself” she always says “aaaaaa-aaaaaa-achoooooooooo!” thanks to this book.
We often give this book as a baby shower gift that we give because we love it so much!
This is a must-have for any toddler’s library! Grab Bear Snores On here.
2) First 100 Words
First 100 Words took Second Place for me, not because I particularly enjoy reading it or looking at the pictures, but the girls LOVE it.
They would point to every picture on the page, sometimes multiple times, before we could move on.
This one is also great if you are introducing them to a second language. Although I’m not fluent in French, I know a lot of the basic words. As we read this book, I will often give them the English word and the French word for the pictures.
If you don’t have this book yet, snag one here for your little one.
3) Teeny Tiny Mouse
Teeny, Tiny Mouse has to be the most fun book you can read about colors.
It is an adorable story about a teeny tiny mouse (I know, shocking!) that goes through the house with his mommy pointing out colors.
You first read about him finding things that are blue. After that, a little blue ball makes an appearance on every page.
Once the girls figured that out, every page turn became a treasure hunt.
Teeny, Tiny Mouse is sure to be a winner with your kiddos!
4) Bear Sees Colors
Bear Sees Colors is our other favorite book about colors.
My younger daughter calls this book “Ye-yow!” and asks to read it all. the. time.
Luckily this is another fantastic book by Karma Wilson, featuring all the same animal friends as Bear Snores On and we enjoy reading it almost as much as she does.
Since we liked Bear Snores On so much, we started buying every book in the series. We quickly realized though, that not every one in the series was as fun and original as the first one had been.
These are the only two in the series that we read on a consistent basis.
All the other ones feel like she is trying too hard to fit different ideas into the same little rhyme scheme. Not really my cup of tea.
The kids don’t seem to mind though, so if you don’t mind the same rhyme with slight variations go ahead and grab them all!
I just like a little more variety when I’m reading the seven thousandth book of the day.
Bear Sees Colors is different enough that it feels like a unique book with familiar characters.
5) All the World
All the World such a sweet book with a lovely rhythm.
One thing that I particularly like about this book is that it takes the focus off of just thinking about yourself. (Something every toddler needs to learn!)
Instead, it talks about how the whole world works together and even talks about when things don’t go right, you try again another day.
This book also has intricate illustrations where you may not catch everything about the picture the first couple of times you read it. I always enjoy books like that once I have them memorized and I can look at the pictures as I’m reciting the book!
It gives me something else to look forward to and keeps the girls busy finding different things in the pictures while we read.
All the World passes all the tests for a great toddler book.
6) Blueberries for Sal
In Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey paints a beautiful picture about an ordinary day with an ordinary little girl picking blueberries with her mom… and a little adventure that happens along the way.
This one is slightly longer so it requires a little more of an attention span, but both of my girls have enjoyed it around age one.
Blueberries for Sal was/is a favorite nap-time pick for my girls because they learned that it is one of the longer stories. They like that it stretches the reading time just a little bit longer!
7) Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go To Sleep
Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go To Sleep is the funniest book on the list! We laugh almost every time we read it!
Even though this is a little longer than a typical toddler book, both of my girls have enjoyed it at one because he puts in so many things that interest even young children.
In this book, we point to our feet and our noses, the girls get to make animals sounds, and they like to pretend they are doing all the things the sheep do when they don’t want to go to sleep.
Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go To Sleep keeps everyone in our family entertained.
8) Usborne Peep Inside Books
I love how Usborne Peep Inside Books take simple things like the garden or a farm and make them interesting and applicable to young children.
9) Sweet Child of Mine
Sweet Child of Mine is an endearing little book about loving your child through all the seasons and times of the day.
Sweet Child of Mine is enjoyable to read for even young babies because it moves quickly with only a line or two on each page, it has simple pictures, and a sweet rhyme.
10) ABC Board Book
ABC Board Book is another one that isn’t quite as much fun for the parents to read, but the kids eat it up!
My girls love the bright, colorful pictures and repeating the words after us. And just like the First 100 Words book, it’s another great way to introduce multiple languages to your children.
Be sure to add the ABC Board Book to your library to encourage your children’s growing curiosity about the world around them.
I hope you and your little ones enjoy these books as much as we have!
Edited in 2023:
Bonus! New Favorites We Got After My Son Was Born:
11) I Love You Like No Otter
After my son was born, my oldest daughter was at a bookstore with my mom and found this book. She insisted on buying it for her brother with her own money even though my mom offered to get it… and it is her brother’s favorite book to this date!
I Love You Like No Otter is one of the sweetest books I’ve ever read.
It has adorable animal puns on every page and the pages are short and sweet (just long enough for the toddler to figure out how to turn to the next page).
When we get to the end of the book, the little guy turns it over and asks to start it again!
12) Snuggle Puppy
I first read Snuggle Puppy when we were visiting friends and I instantly loved it.
After I found out I was pregnant with my son, I put it on our list of things to get for the baby right away!
It is a fun little love song that you and your baby will both enjoy over and over again!
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