The Best Books for Toddlers

​​Books for toddlers can mean a wide range of things, including paperbacks, board books and even those that move or pop up.

No matter your preference, reading is a huge milestone and an important factor in cognitive brain development, so the earlier you can read to your toddler, the better. Reading with your child will help them focus, boost imagination, help enhance memory and increase their vocabulary and ability to recognise words. Reading can also aid in strengthening your bond as a family.

In fact, it’s never too early to read to your baby, you should begin with high-contrast picture books during their first few months. Once they become a toddler, their eyes will be more focused, and they will be more interested in looking at books and the pictures and words inside.

But with so many stories and educational books on the market, where do you start to look when purchasing them? 

Things To Look For In A Book For Your Child

When buying books for a toddler there are a few things to look out for, the first is to check that all the letters are clear and in a font that is easily distinguishable if you are buying books for your child to learn from.

The second is to make sure it’s in English (UK) if you’re looking at books which may have been published in the US; sometimes, they call items different names (e.g. nappy versus diaper), which may confuse young children.

Finally, make sure any pictures are relevant and correctly labelled. Choosing well-known brand books is a safe way to ensure you’re getting great quality, and you cannot go wrong with books that have been published multiple times over the last forty or more years.

When it comes to stories that you will be reading to your toddler, you want to start with the classics, the authors who have sold millions of copies worldwide, some books you may have even had when you were growing up too! You can’t go wrong with the books I am about to list; they are in abundance of learning and of love, nature and growth, acceptance and fun.

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Here are the top-rated toddler and preschool books on Amazon UK right now:

'Baby’s Very First Black and White Little Library' by Stella Baggott

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These types of books are perfect to start off with when your baby shows an interest in what’s around them. I showed the pictures to my son from the age of about eight weeks onwards. 

They are great for recognising animals and items as well as first words. Their high contrast black and white are ideal for babies while their eyes are still adjusting to colours. Keep them for first words later on too.

'We’re Going On a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

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This story has been around since 1993 and now it’s even been adapted into a short film. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a poignant and beautiful tale which has a chant that small children will love to join in with. It is ideal for bear enthusiasts and brave children alike, a lovely short story full of adventure.

'Dear Zoo' by Rod Campbell

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Dear Zoo is one of the classic books for many homes. With its wide array of animals and easy-to-understand words, it’s a wonderful short story for toddlers. It has bright colourful animals and you have the flaps making it a great interactive book too. Toddlers will enjoy the movement of this book.

'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' by Judith Kerr

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First published back in 1968, this story has been told to generations and whose magic has been shared with millions of children. What would you do if the doorbell rang just as you sat down for your tea, and it was a tiger?

It may be Kerr’s most famous book, but she wrote dozens, so make sure to check out the other titles, too.

Kerr also published several books about Mog the cat who is a favourite in our house. Mog gets up to all sorts of mischief; if your toddler likes cats, I recommend the Mog series.

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'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle

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This is a children’s book that everyone has heard of, and is by far one of the classics of the last fifty years. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was first published back in 1969 and has sold more than 41 million copies. 

The book includes counting and fruit as well as recognising the incredible life cycle of the caterpillar into a butterfly. You can now get this as a board book or a flap book and even several other versions now too. 

The story allows toddlers to count up to ten as well as recognise fruit and food items, and there are examples of nature in there too. A family favourite in our house and great for toddlers, even right up to school age when your child can read it for themselves one day.

'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson

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You can’t go wrong with the range of stories written by Donaldson; some have even been adapted into television cartoons and short films. Most of the books are designed for children of preschool age and above, but you can start with the classics like ‘The Gruffalo’ once your toddler is happy to sit and listen to you reading to them. 

Julia Donaldson has also written the book series titled ‘Tales from Acorn Wood’, and there are many wonderful stories about animals in this set. Another great book is called ‘Monkey Puzzle’ where the monkey has lost mummy monkey and searches the forest for her, meeting lots of animals along the way. 

Most of Donaldson’s recent books have had animals in them, but there were many published when I was growing up such as ‘The Baddies’ and ‘Room on the Broom’. Donaldson has such imagination and all her books are great fun to read.

'Guess How Much I Love You' by Sam McBratney

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This is a story that helps young children to convey feelings of love. The Nutbrown Hare family show one another how they measure their love as the story goes on. Sometimes it’s hard to describe how much you care for someone, but this book helps to show just how much effort can go into telling someone that you love them. Lots of parents relate to the wording within this particular story, and it is beautifully illustrated, too.

'The Colour Monster' by Anna Llenas

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A wonderful book that helps young children to talk about their own feelings. The story surrounds a monster that wakes up one day feeling confused about lots of feelings they are having all at once. When the monster meets a young girl she helps him to put those emotions into different colours so that he can work out what he is feeling. 

It is a great book for young children who can be easily overwhelmed by lots of emotions, and how colours can help them explain how they are feeling. The book covers five main emotions - calm, fear, happiness, anger and sadness.

Usborne Touchy Feely Books

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There are many in the series and new books seem to be released every year. They include things like a Soft Squirrel and a Squishy Dinosaur, among many others. These books are ideal for getting children to recognise small words and touching things for texture differences.

'Elmer' by David McKee

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This is another book that is filled with colour and learning about being different. Elmer the elephant is patchwork and not the same as the grey elephants, he is loved but he knows that he isn’t like the others. 

This book is all about accepting who you are and that it’s okay to be different. The story sends an important message to all young children who have read it since it was published in 1989.

'My First Words' and 'My First Colours' by DK

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All of these DK books include large bright pictures and associated words with everyday objects and learning all about colours and the world in which we live. Toddlers will love recognising the words and pictures and putting into practice what they see around them every day. 

These are ideal for parents who want their child to have some independent learning as well as being read to by them, the books are often large and brightly printed.

No matter what books you decide to buy and read to your child, know that you’re helping them to discover words and language, and it also feeds their imagination. 

Books for toddlers make perfect first reading books because they are often simple and have lots of repetition too.

 Top Tip: When your toddler gets older, encourage them to read along with you on the easier words!

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