Whether you are preparing to buy children’s books for holiday presents or just to keep adding to your family bookshelf, there is no shortage of fun, educational, classic, and bedtime books for toddlers. To help you navigate the immense options out there, the team at Sawyer has put together a list of the best books for toddlers, broken down by age and theme, so you can help your child fall in love with reading!

Best books for toddlers

Photo of the importance of reading to children

Importance of reading to children

Did you know that reading 5 books a day to your toddler means that they will enter kindergarten hearing about 1.4 million more words than children who are not read to? This research, done in 2019 by Ohio State University, shows that reading aloud to your child as part of your daily routine can vastly increase their abilities to pick up reading and vocabulary when they start school. 

The study also shows that even kids who hear only one book a day will recognize about 290,000 more words by age 5 than those who don't regularly read books with an adult. (Because, we get it, reading 5 books a day might seem like a lot on top of all of the other parenting duties). 

Here are some of the best ways to make sure you read to your toddler daily:

  • Build reading into your routine. Add reading a picture book to your daily schedule by putting it before one of the items you do every day, like midday snack, naptime, or bedtime. In the best case, you can add it to each of those times so your toddler is listening to more than one book a day.
  • Try replacing an activity with reading. Do you find yourself reaching for Paw Patrol or the iPad when your toddler has a little free time? Instead, try to add a book into this time period so that your child knows that reading is fun, too.
  • Let your child pick out the books. When they have books that they love, they are more likely to want to read them together. So, pick out some great books together and let them know where they are. If they request a read aloud, sit down and read with them. And if they ask for you to read it again, listen to them! Reward their interest in reading as much as you can, even if you might think it’s boring to read the same stories over and over.
Photo of best books for 2 year olds

Best books for 2 year olds

2 year olds love colorful images and interactive books with hidden flaps and things to feel. They also love rhyming and repetitive stories so that it sounds more like a song than a book. Here are some of the best books for 2 year olds.

  1. You’re Two! by Shelly Unwin | Buy
  2. Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton | Buy
  3. A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara | Buy
  4. Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard | Buy
  5. Where’s Spot by Eric Hill | Buy
  6. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst | Buy
  7. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems | Buy
  8. When I Am/Cuando Estoy by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza | Buy
  9. My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith | Buy
  10. Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke | Buy

Check out our full list of best books for 2 year olds, which also includes our favorite classic toddler books and toddler books about feelings to help your child learn to express themselves! In our article, we review each book so you know which is right for your child.

Photo of best books for 3 year olds

Best books for 3 year olds

3 year olds still love colors and rhyming, but they also have a bit more understanding of story structure. They definitely are aware of their favorite interests and they want books that will interest and excite them. Here are some of the best books for 3 year olds so you can delight the toddler in your life!

  1. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman | Buy
  2. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin | Buy
  3. Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer | Buy
  4. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf | Buy
  5. We Belong Together by Todd Parr | Buy
  6. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi | Buy
  7. Ten on a Twig by Lo Cole | Buy
  8. Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard | Buy
  9. Mix It Up by Herve Tullet | Buy
  10. I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley | Buy

Check out our full list where we’ve reviewed the best books for 3 year olds and included some of our favorite bedtime books for toddlers as well!

Photo of best books for 4 year olds

Best books for 4 year olds

When children are 4 years old, they are likely getting ready to start kindergarten. Even if they are not there yet, hopefully they have been listening to books read aloud for the past few years and so they have a good sense of the sounds, letters, and words. Here are some of our best books for 4 year olds and maybe they can give you a break by reading to you!

  1. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak | Buy
  2. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archambault | Buy
  3. Kindergarten, Here I Come by D.J. Steinberg | Buy
  4. Let’s Go to the Potty by Allison Jandu | Buy
  5. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson | Buy
  6. Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin | Buy
  7. Swapsies by Fiona Robertson | Buy
  8. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen | Buy
  9. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin | Buy
  10. Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang | Buy

Still overwhelmed? We’ve reviewed these best books for 4 year olds and included some of our favorite educational books for toddlers as well so you can see what your toddler will love!

We hope these toddler books will help the children in your life discover the magic of reading! If you are looking for even more fun reading-related activities, Sawyer providers Online Learning Studio, Book Nook Enrichment, and L-M-N-O-Play have online read alouds and book clubs for children of all ages! Check them out, and more exciting activities, on the Sawyer marketplace.

Discover and book summer camps on Sawyer