When my children were babies and early toddlers, we’d read piles of board books every morning after breakfast. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Little Owl’s Night, and I Am a Bunny were just a few of the best board books for toddlers. My kiddos would pull book after book off the shelf and hand them to me to read. Sometimes they’d look through the books themselves.
I was so pleased with my book-lovers.
Then my son turned two and became a nonstop force of motion. He had no interest in sitting still to read books for 45-minute stretches of time after breakfast. We could barely wrangle him for a book at bed-time and before nap.
So I went on searches for new books, scouring the library and bookstore for the best books for toddlers ages 2-3.
Since he played with trains all day, train books would often capture his attention, especially books about Thomas the Train. I also found some of the best books for toddlers were ones with rhymes and rhythms, especially when we read them with enthusiasm.
If you reach a similar stage with your toddlers, here’s what worked for us:
- Books that relate to toys or characters they like (For us, it was Thomas the Train
- Books that rhyme
- Books with a rhythm or song
- Books with flaps, tabs, and more
Here are the six books my wiggly toddler would sit still for:
- Stop, Train, Stop! a Thoms the Tank Engine Story by Wilbert Awdry
- A Thomas the Tank Engine book for train lovers. This book about Thomas deciding to zoom past all his tops has cows mooing, food spilling, and people bouncing about—and some nice rhyming phrases we like to repeat with excitement.
- Noisy Farm by Little Tiger Press
- A short but noisy book with textures and photographs of farm animals. What toddler doesn’t love mooing like a cow and neighing like a horse?
- Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
- A fun story with a distinct rhythm and rhyme, lots of “bluuubs,” and it ends with smooches!
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., and John Archambault
- We like to emphasize the rhythm of this one, reading it to a beat but slowing down to point out all the letters. I also challenge my son to say the tounge-twisting parts like, “Skit skat skoodle doot!”
- A Trip to Busy Town by Sally Hopgood
- With tabs to pull on every page and plenty of vehicles and animals to name, this was a favorite bedtime story for a while. My son also liked to pull out the tabs and drive a train across the pages of this book.
- My Best Ever ABC Alphabet Book by Make Believe Ideas Ltd.
- Textures, tabs, flaps, and all kinds of doodles make this one of the best board books for toddlers. This is a great one to read together and for kids to explore on their own.
What books engaged your busy toddlers?
Connect with me on Goodreads to see what else we love to read at my house.