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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New Year, New Plans

Hoping you had a merry Christmas and are having a great start to the New Year! I have been looking forward to beginning a new year with Beloved Bookshelf as I enjoy the fresh start that a new calendar year provides.

These are my plans and priorities for 2020:

. . . finding editions of classics like Mother Goose, Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, and Aesop’s Fables to recommend. Call it my nursery essentials list, if you will. Many booklists recommend these classics but do not always suggest which editions. I want to provide you with some great suggestions. All editions must have top-notch prose (when dealing with translations and adaptations) as well as beautiful illustrations.

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. . . recommending more chapter books. My children are six and under, so most of my time has been spent searching for picture books and nursery classics. My eldest daughter and I are now beginning to read chapters books together! I am also planning on reading a handful on my own this year. If your children are older and you need chapter book recommendations now, please check out this page where I list my trusted resources for finding book recommendations.

. . . book cover photographs above all of my book titles. Photographs are so helpful and this is my top priority in the coming months.

. . . and the project I am most excited to announce: grade-specific literature lists for homeschool and the classroom, beginning with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade!

Please send me an email if there is anything you would like to see on Beloved Bookshelf this year. I am grateful to several readers who informed me that they prefer age or grade-specific booklists rather than master lists. While I do think most of the books on my lists can be read at various ages, I do understand the convenience of organizing booklists this way. For example, “Put Me in the Zoo” is a splendid early reader, but my two-year-old toddler can’t get enough of it. Just something to keep in mind even after I reconfigure the booklists.

Finally, I want to make sure you don’t miss an article I added to my resources page a couple of months ago titled “Awakening the Moral Imagination” by Dr. Vigen Guroian. It is the best article I have read on the subject of why children should read fairy tales. I encourage you to read it! Dr. Guroian also wrote a book on this subject which I hope to read and review sometime on the blog titled Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination. And . . . if you are looking for fairy tales to read with your child, here’s my great big list of illustrated fairy tales.

 

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