30 Best Books for Babies and Toddlers

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With the vast number of books on offer, choosing the best books for babies and toddlers can seem daunting.

You may be wondering if there is any benefit to reading to a baby of a few weeks old.

To make your life a little bit simpler we have put together a list of the best books for babies and toddlers including preschoolers.

Dad Reading Book to Baby

Reading with Babies (0-12 months old)

Indeed, your baby will not understand everything you are saying but reading with your baby is a great way to bond with your baby and create a special time that you will cherish for years to come. 

Reading with your baby also develops fine motor skills as they start to point, touch and interact with the book – cloth books are great for this. As you read, you use expression and emotion, and this supports your baby’s social and emotional development. The more you read aloud with them, the more words they will hear and the better they will talk.

Reading with your baby can also form part of your bedtime routine.

What to Read with your Baby?

The best books for babies should have clear pictures and be simple and repetitive. During the 1st few months, you can read anything to your baby as they love hearing your voice. As your baby becomes more interested in looking at objects and pictures choose books with solid backgrounds and simple illustrations. 

As your baby starts to interact more books with mirrors and textures are ideal. Try books with different textures that are crinkly, soft, shiny or scratchy. Board books with flaps are also a good choice and help develop your little one’s fine motor skills.

At this age, choose boar books or books made from vinyl or cloth. These are easy for babies to start learning to turn the pages, are durable and can be taken anywhere.

10 Best Books for Babies (0-12 months old)

10 Best Books 0 to 12 Months

About the Book: Your baby will love this board book with its bold pictures and sing song text. The book is filled with animals that will delight your little one. 

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: Will there be enough room for all the letters of the alphabet on the coconut tree? This book is perfect for your baby with sturdy pages and rounded edges. The Chicka Chicka series has been a favourite for over 20 years. 

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5 

About the Book: These books are perfect for developing sensory skills. The book is filled with all sorts of animals, rhyming text and touch and feel textures. 

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: What is hiding on the next page? The peek-a-boo cutouts, rhyming text and colourful and engaging illustrations will delight your baby.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: Karen Katz has written and illustrated over 50 books, and it is easy to see why these books are so popular. These peekaboo books with easy-to-lift flaps are interactive and lots of fun.

Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5

About the Book: This is a classic that does not need much of an introduction. A copy of this book sells every 30 seconds somewhere in the world. This book is one of my favourites; it is fun and beautifully illustrated. 

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: This is a beautiful classic and beloved book. Where could Spot be? Your little one will love looking for Spot in the most unusual places.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: The book is designed to stimulate curiosity through sensory play, making it perfect for babies. The activities on each page – raised textures, finger trails to follow, and even a mirror will keep your baby engaged.

Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5

About the Book: With textured animal tails, crinkle features, squeakers this book is perfect for developing your baby's motor skills and audio recognition. They are handmade, non-toxic and washable, making them ideal for babies. The velcro straps are perfect for strapping the book onto strollers and baby chairs.  

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

About the Book: This box set includes 4 books covering words, colours, numbers and shapes. These books have bold photography and simple word labels.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Reading with Toddlers (12 – 36 months old)

Reading at this age is all about having fun with books. The time spent reading together can create special parent one on one time, and it allows you to model a love of books for your child.

You can start to get your little one involved – let them choose the book they would like to read and get them to hold the book and turn the pages. Ask your toddler to name the things they see in the book – shapes, animals etc. 

Mix things up to keep your little one engaged – you do not always have to read a book. Singing nursery rhymes and songs together are a great way to improve vocabulary, teach concepts and generally have some fun together.

What to Read with your Toddler?

You will find that your child still loves interactive books at this age; however, as they get older and transition from board books, adding books that rhyme, are repetitive and a little bit silly will be definite winners. 

Toddlers are curious and are very engaged in learning more about the world around them. Reading helps them make sense of what they are hearing, thinking, and seeing. Toddlers will generally enjoy books that feature animals, experiences they can relate to and any books about their favourite topic like princesses or trains. 

Pop-up books and lift the flap books will be popular with younger toddlers whilst older toddlers will enjoy books with moveable pieces. There is a big difference between 12 and 36-month-olds, so it is essential to choose age-appropriate books.

10 Best Books for Toddlers (12 - 36 months old)

Some of the books recommended are the board book version suitable for the younger toddler. However many of these books are also available in hardcover and paperback versions which would be ideal for the 2+ year-olds. 

10 Best Books 12 to 36 Months Old

About the Book: This is a fun rhyming book about the pout-pout fish who realises that spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t what he is destined to do. 

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This box set is ideal for introducing your little one to a wide range of topics. The collection includes ABC, Numbers, Shapes, Colours, Wild Animals, Farm Animals & Pets, Birds, Fruits, Vegetables and Transport. 

Star Rating: 4.6 out of 5

About the Book: If you have a little one that loves trucks, this one will be a hit. The book has colourful illustrations and rhyming text that will make this book a bedtime favourite.  

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: This book starts to build on number concepts. As each flower becomes a butterfly, your child will learn ways to group numbers to create ten. The story is adorable too, that is sure to enchant your little one.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: Gerald, the giraffe, just wants to dance. Being a giraffe makes this more complicated than you would think. That is until Gerald gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend and learns to dance to his own tune.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This is a fantastic collection of nursery rhymes and beloved fairytales. The short easy to read stories are ideal for capturing your toddler's attention. 

Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5

About the Book: Who does not love a Dr. Seuss book? In this book, Dr. Seuss deals with life’s ups and downs with humour and excellent illustrations.  

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: My son loved this book about a little woodpecker who pecks his way through everything in sight as he learns how to peck, peck, peck.

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: This beautifully illustrated book celebrates the bond between children and their father. Although Little Bear may be ready for some grown-up adventures, he still needs a helping hand from Daddy Bear.

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: Roger Priddy's books have sold over 65 million copies so you cannot go wrong with this one. There are 100 colour photographs with simple words that you and your little one can look at and talk about whilst reading.

Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5

Reading with Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old)

When reading with a preschooler, start to ask questions before, during and after reading. Asking questions will begin to develop your child's comprehension skills.  You can also ask questions about the different letters and the sounds they make. 

While you are reading point out:

  • Punctuation marks including question marks, exclamation marks, full stops and commas and explain what they are.

  • Capital and lower-case letters. For example, “There is a capital S. Can you see how it is bigger than this lower-case s?”

  • Words printed in large or bold font and explain why there are these changes. For example, "Look at how big the word BOO is. The Mummy must be saying BOO very loudly to frighten the little girl."

You may also be thinking about teaching your child to read. Children Learning Reading has a great program that teaches children as young as 2.5 years old to read. You can read our review of the Children Learning Reading Program here.

What to Read with your Preschooler?

At this age, books with repetition and rhyme will still be popular with your child. Your child will also want to pick books that interest them. As they get closer to school-aged, they may even start to show an interest in non-fictional books such as books on animals, transport, the ocean, space etc. This age is also the right time to read books that deal with emotions and relationships.

You may find that your child enjoys books about life events like going to school, making friends and family. Books that have children about the same age as your child will also be a hit.

10 Best Books for Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old)

10 Best Books 3 to 5 Year-Olds

About the Book: As the book says, "You may think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious." But this book is so funny your little one will love it. With crazy-sounding words like BLORK or BLURFF, your child will want to read this book over and over. I lost count of how many times we read this book.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This book is humorous and cleverly written. The different colour crayons each write a letter to the little boy explaining why they have ‘quit’. There is a sequel to this book called “The Day the Crayons Came Home” which is equally as good. 

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: When the wind blows away some of the witch’s belongings, three helpful animals find the missing items. Now all then want is a ride on the witch’s broom but will they all be able to fit. 

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: This book celebrates the love between a parent and child. You will want to read this book over and over with your child creating memorable moments.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This book is full of creativity and imagination. Your child will love the suspense created by the smart little mouse who invents The Gruffalo so that the fox, owl and snake do not eat him.

Star Rating: 4.9 out of 5

About the Book: If your child loves unicorns, then they will love this book about how to try and catch a rainbow unicorn. Other books in this series are How to Catch a Mermaid, How to Catch a Monster, How to Catch a Dinosaur and How to Catch a Tooth Fairy.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This book's recommended age is 5 – 8 year-olds, but my son loved this book from around 4 years old. With detail-rich scenes and more than 55 interactive flaps and tabs, there is plenty to keep your child engaged.

Star Rating: 4.7 out of 5

About the Book: This book is perfect for preschoolers. With hand-on games, recipes, craft and lively information, this book encourages children to ask questions and get answers that are accurate and age-appropriate.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: This book has sold over 30 million copies and has touched hearts worldwide. A mum looks lovingly at her newborn son and softly sings to him, be warned you may end up shedding a tear or two.

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

About the Book: Your child will love this funny tongue-twisting tale about an endearing Wonky Donkey. 

Star Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Have fun reading with your little one.

Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.
– George Bernard Shaw

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