30 Best Books for 2- to 3-Year-Olds
The growth between your child’s second and third birthdays is exponential! They are learning more about their world every day, their vocabulary is increasing steadily, and they’re picking up new skills and interests. Your wiggly toddler is also starting to understand the difference between wild play time and quiet reading time, so enjoying a story or two together is about to become even easier and more enjoyable for you both.
You’ve probably noticed more curiosity, questions, and opinions emerging from your toddler. Tune into their interests when shopping for books, from princesses to cars, sports to animals. They’ll enjoy finding things in books, and stories that give them simple directions to follow (which is great practice for preschool!).
Board books are still a good choice as they’re easy for pudgy little fingers to manipulate and hold. However, your child can enjoy more complex storylines than they were even a few months ago, so this is a perfect time to start investing in longer hardcover books for kids.
There are so many beautiful and special books for 2- to 3-year-olds out there! Here are just a few of our favorites.
Crocodiles Need Kisses Too by Rebecca Colby
In this cute rhyming book, your toddler is reminded that everyone needs love, no matter what they look like. It’s a lesson to last a lifetime, wrapped up in a tableau of pretty pictures and prose.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
From the famed children’s author, this beautiful book transports you and your little one to city scenery, a child’s world, and a hot summer’s day.
In Every House, On Every Street by Jess Hitchman
A book about community, and the houses and families within, this is a story they’ll enjoy when you read it and when they just turn the pages to take in the pictures at their own pace.
Paris: A Book of Shapes by Ashley Evanson
This is the sweetest little book to teach your child their shapes; the fact that it takes you to Paris is a tres chic bonus.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Every child’s bookshelf needs this classic on it. A timeless yet period-set story about a mother and father duck making a home for their family in Boston, it’s clear from the first page why parents (and critics) have lauded it for decades.
Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner
A story full of wonder and not too many words, the illustrations take you and your child on a journey around the house and all the way outer space. Because it’s heavy on illustrations and not words, you can make up your own narration together and let your toddler help.
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Get ready for bedtime with the familiar rhyme and lovable llama in red pajamas. It’s a night-night delight with a silly story and reassuring message.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
A classic tale of perseverance, community, and belief in oneself, your toddler will love any version, but our favorite is the Golden Book with original prose and illustrations.
Who Took the Cookies From the Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass & Philemon and Sturges
It’s hard to resist the rising drama in this hilarious and adorable kiddos’ whodunit.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
A sweet story you might remember from your own childhood, the lovable teddy in it will remind your child that we are all worthy of love—flaws and all.
You’ve probably noticed your little one’s sense of humor getting more complex. Books that tell them “not” to do something but don’t really mean it are becoming particularly hilarious. In this cute Sesame Street story, you’ll both crack up from start to finish, all while being instructed not to turn the pages!
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Vintage books for kids catapult you both to a new place and time, and this one is a favorite. The adorable Harry has a bit of an identity crisis after refusing to take a bath, making it a comical reminder about hygiene for kiddos.
Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayre
Your tiny truck-lover will fall in head over heels for the diggers in this night-night tale. Now is a great moment in their development to reinforce routine through characters and themes that interest them.
A B See by Elizabeth Doyle
A colorful feast for the eyes and easy-to-read ABC in one, this educational book is a must-have for your toddler. (See more ABC books for toddlers!)
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Encourage them to imagine and pretend with this darling book that takes a simple box to all sorts of creative places.
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
We love a good nighttime book, but morning cuddles are just as fun. With repetition to encourage your child to participate in “reading” and a familiar game of peek-a-boo to introduce various family members, it’s a story you’ll love to read together.
You Can Be by Elise Gravel
This silly and sweet book offers an exploration of all the things that make childhood special, with simple yet engaging illustrations.
The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith
Get ready to giggle with the hilarious rhyming story that went viral after a lovable grandmother and toddler pair were inconsolable with laughter while reading it together.
How to Catch a Unicorn by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton
Take your tot on a magical journey replete with rainbows and city streets in this charming newer addition to the How to Catch a… series of kids’ books.
The Mitten by Jan Brett
There are so many wonderful things going on in this book, from a grandmother’s love to a snowy winter wonderland adventure and a host of animal friends. It’s a story that brings out their curiosity and love of nature at once.
Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
There is something so appealing about any story where animals outsmart humans and get up to some mischief. When the gorilla dupes the zookeeper in this classic tale, your toddler will be instantly hooked to find out what happens next.
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
A beautiful poem with illustrations that capture the message, this ode to childhood is an absolute must.
Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll by Mr. Jay
Part simple rhyme, part lesson on different types of rocks, and part beautiful message for toddlers everywhere, this quirky pick is one to check out.
Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin
The unendingly talented Emily Winfield Martin does it again with an absolutely stunning bedtime story for children.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
Bring the joy of Dr. Seuss into your little one’s world with this classic book of ABC’s.
Just Go to Bed by Mercer Meyer
The little critter who’s charmed toddlers and preschoolers for decades is the heart of this night-night story we can all relate to.
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg
An important book for both your little and you, Beautiful Oops reminds us that mistakes are okay—and necessary!—and encourages us all to make beauty out of our “oops.”
Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
In this sweet book, all types of families are highlighted as a reminder that love is the common denominator and most important part. Your two-to-three-year-old will not only see their own family structure represented on the pages, but learn to accept and support families that look different from their own.
B is for Breathe by Dr. Melissa Munro Boyd
New feelings are on the horizon for your toddler, and this breathing book talks them through it all. Simple relaxation techniques are introduced to help you both conquer the hard moments. (Peep more books that teach about feelings!)
I Wish You Happiness by Michael Wong
Cotton candy skies and cheerful characters in this multi-award-winning story will show your babe a world of beauty and wonder representing all the positive things you want for their life.
More Storytime Hits for Toddlers:
- Interactive Books for Toddlers
- The Best Number Books for Little Ones
- Children's Books About Friendship
- Children's Books That Teach Kindness and Empathy
- Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.