Best Picture Books for Toddlers

My eldest daughter Lucy loved pulling books from the little shelf in our apartment living room as a toddler. She would sit with them tucked between her chubby knees and turn the pages continually.

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Circa 2015

The books began to tear from her daily routine. My first instinct was to put them high where she could not reach them so they could be preserved for her future siblings.

It took me a few years–and two more children–to realize that often the best picture books are the ones that end up torn, taped, re-taped, and broken at the binding from being opened so many times. They are the ones that end up in my lap for the tenth day in a row with the words, “Mama, book?”

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So many memories shared between the pages of our duct-taped binding of Blueberries for Sal.

Here is a list of the books that have been beloved by my toddler-aged children:

appleydapply

Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter

areyoumymother

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

blueonblue

Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes

blueberriesforsal

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

brownbearbrownbear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

capsforsale

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

cecilyparsley

Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes by Beatrix Potter

corduroy

Corduroy by Don Freeman

diggersgo

Diggers Go by Steve Light

freighttrain

Freight Train by Donald Crews

thegingerbreadboy

The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone

goingtosleeponthefarm

Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

godoggo

Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman

goodnightgorilla

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

goodnightmoon

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

harolandthepurplecrayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

haveyouseenmyduckling

Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

thehouseinthenight

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

iamabunny

I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry

ifyougiveamouseacookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

jessebearwhatwillyouwear

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy Carlstrom

thelittlenenginethatcould

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

madeline

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

makewayforducklings

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

moobalalala

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton

mrbrowncanmoo

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss

myfirstwinnie

My First Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (poetry)

myveryfirstmothergoose

My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie

thenappinghouse

The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood

1isone

1 is One by Tasha Tudor

patthebunny

Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book) by Dorothy Kunhardt

pellesnewsuit

Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow

apicnicwithmonet

A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober, and others in the “Mini Masters” series

poemstoreadtotheveryyoung

Poems to Read to the Very Young by Josette Frank, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

putmeinthezoo

Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire

richardscarrybest

Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever by Richard Scarry

asickdayforamos

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

thesnowyday

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

thetaleofpeterabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

tenredapples

Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins

thetigerwhocametotea

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

theverybusyspider

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

theveryhungrycaterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

whistleforwillie

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

whomadethiscake

Who Made This Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa

 

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PDF BOOKLIST


Which picture books does your toddler pull off the shelf again and again? Please share in the comments below.

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Welcome! Introducing Beloved Bookshelf

Hello! My name is Lauren Williams. Welcome to Beloved Bookshelf.

My deep love of literature began at Hillsdale College, where I met professors and students who treated books not as something to be used or delighted in merely, but as the gift and treasure they are to our human flourishing. I ended up majoring in English, soaking up every class I could on the literary classics.

When I became a mother, I couldn’t wait to share my love of literature with my children. I had difficulty at first finding quality children’s books (choosing at random from the library bookshelf was unsuccessful), but then a friend directed me to John Senior’s booklist.

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This list was exactly what I had been looking for. Seeing the delight in my children’s eyes as we read Winnie-the-Pooh and the Beatrix Potter tales, hearing the questions they began asking, and observing how their imaginations grew was incredibly motivating. I began spending hours searching for other resources and combing booklists, determined to find the best children’s literature I could. Other parents expressed their interest in the titles I was finding and the seed for this blog was planted.

Over the past two years, I have checked out and reviewed hundreds of books with the hope that I could bring you these booklists. They are far from finished, but I hope they can begin to bridge the gap for other parents and educators searching for quality literature.

Here are my criteria for what makes a children’s book a real treasure:

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What I desire most for this blog is that these books will make their way into your library bag or on your bookshelves and that you enjoy them as much as we do! I would also be grateful if you shared your family’s favorite titles so we can help each other find the best children’s literature has to offer our families.

Thank you so much for visiting!

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About the name: I chose “Beloved Bookshelf” as a nod to an old habit I have of lining up my most beloved books on a shelf. Although my family does not own all of these titles, they would be lovingly lined up on a shelf (or shelves😉).