Inside: Looking for the best books for 2 year old readers? We’ve got you covered, from interactive books to rhyming stories to books that will introduce new concepts. Check it out!
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Introducing Books for 2 Year Olds to Your Child
Have you ever wondered why getting a toddler to sit through storytime is so challenging? Sometimes it feels harder than changing a newborn’s diaper with one hand tied behind your back while another toddler uses your weary body as a jungle gym.
The stuffed animals across the room always seem way more interesting than mom in the glider with a story in hand, as is the basket of laundry waiting to be folded in the hallway.
When my boys were toddlers, I often found myself beyond frustrated at storytime. Why wouldn’t my kids sit still and listen? Didn’t they love books like mom did? What if this was an indication that they weren’t going to be readers??
Ok, so maybe I was a bit irrational. But I was a mom on a mission. I had to raise readers, and I had to start them young. And in order to help my kids fall in love with stories…
I had to find the BEST books for 2 year olds, and I had to find them fast.
After lots of time spent searching and reading, I discovered two important things. First, If I wanted to engage my kids in storytime, I had to find stories that were imaginative, adventurous and creative. I had to make storytime rock.
Slowly but surely, book by book, I began to discover which stories would engage my boys — and which would be shelved for a later date. Finally, I had shelves full of stories I knew would captivate my kiddos.
The following list of books are the stories that hooked my boys when they were toddlers — or they’re more recent publications I WISH I’d had on hand when my boys were younger. Why? Because they’re total winners!
I had so much fun making this list for you guys, and I hope you and your kids love this list of the best books for 2 year olds as much as we do.
RELATED: Looking for more of the best books for toddlers? We’ve got all you need!
These Books for 2 Year Olds Will Excite and Inspire Your Child!
One Shoe Two Shoes, by Caryl Hart and illustrated by Edward Underwood: I absolutely love a good rhythmic book. This adorable story has perfect rhyme, delightful illustrations, and introduces both colors and numbers. This is a fresh, modern take on One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. It’s a total joy and my new go-to gift for toddlers! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Watermelon Seed, by Greg Pizzoli: If you are looking for a book to make your little ones squeal with laughter, this is it. From the “chomp chomp” sounds, to the fear of a watermelon seed growing within the tummy, to a great big final burp, this book makes our trio laugh out loud every single time. Bright, colorful illustrations and a zany story make this one of the very best books for 2 year olds. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Monkey and Me, by Emily Gravett: This book was on constant rotation in our house. Simple, rhyming prose and adorable illustrations create a story my boys believed they could “read” on their own. There’s nothing better for instilling confidence in your budding bookworms! Babies love the sing-song rhythm, and big ones love showing off their skills as they turn the pages and “tell” the story to their parents. This is a must have, unique board book for your bookshelves. It always surprises me that more people don’t know about this one, because it’s awesome! For our full review of Monkey and Me, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Dream Big, Little One, by Vashti Harrison: This is a board book version of the best selling Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. It is a perfect, simple book to introduce toddlers to trail blazing women who have accomplished greatness in their respective fields. A wonderful gift for a little girl! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, by Esphyr Slobodkina: This was one of the first books my oldest wanted to read over and over again. It is the silly tale of a peddler, his caps, and a slew of naughty monkeys! We love it for its repetition, incorporation of color recognition, and because it’s so much fun to act out. Those darn monkeys make this classic an absolute must! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
A World of Opposites, by Gray Malin: There’s nothing better than a concept book that offers kids creative ways to learn through unique perspectives! Concept books (books that teach ABCs, counting, colors, shapes, opposites and other important skills) are a dime a dozen. Thus, when you land on one with a fresh take on a particular skill, it leaves a lasting impression. Gray Malin has been a favorite photographer for years, so when this book landed on our doorstep, we were delighted. This great read teaches comparisons while simultaneously entertaining kids with innovative photographs, adorable animals, and a trip around the world. Don’t walk— run out and grab this imaginative, adventurous book! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
You Are Light, by Aaron Becker: Talk about innovative! This board book is an absolute treasure, one that, quite literally, radiates light. With simple prose and die cut circles resembling stained glass, little ones will be mesmerized when holding this book to the light. The colors truly glow! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
TouchThinkLearn: ABC, by Xavier Deneux:: The TouchThinkLearn books are, in my humble opinion, some of the best board books on the market. I adore their alphabet book for toddlers! First, the raised, die-cut pieces make this a tactile reading experience different from the other alphabet books out there. Second, the graphics are simple and bright. Thus, it brilliantly engages children on both visual and sensory levels. This is such an immersive way to learn ABCs. Amazing! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Old MacDonald Had a Truck, by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban: Excavators, front loaders, motor graders, oh my! Everyone’s favorite childhood song, Old MacDonald had a Farm, gets a fresh twist in this adorable, sing-sing book. Here, the animals are driving construction equipment and working on a farm at Old MacDonald’s direction. The illustrations are lively and the book will have you and your child singing some new lyrics – such as “E-I-E-I-HOE!” – for hours on end. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell: The premise is simple: a boy writes to the zoo and asks for a pet. The zoo proceeds to send him lots of animals that, for various reasons, don’t make the cut… until, of course, they send the perfect one. This book enhances toddler development in numerous ways. It gives little fingers various flaps to open, encourages them to learn the sounds and noises each animal makes, and provides loads of repetition which is a fabulous way to promote early literacy. You can’t beat this one! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle: If you have a child who has a hard time sitting still during story time, she will absolutely love getting active and following along with the animals in this classic interactive board book. In this energetic story, giraffes can bend their necks, buffalos can raise their shoulders, and penguins can turn their heads. But can you do it? Kids will love listening to the ways in which various animals move their bodies and then try to mimic those movements. We can’t get enough of this one, and it’s a favorite among my students! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld: I can’t tell you why there are so many toddlers who are totally obsessed with construction sites, big tractors, and diggers galore. But, alas, it’s a fact, and if you have one of these tractor loving kiddos under your roof grab this book quickly as it will become a new bedtime favorite. With engaging illustrations, pitch-perfect rhyme, and a storyline that gets little readers ready to turn off their engines and close their eyes for the night, this one is an absolute must! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Guess Which Hand, by Hans Wilhelm and illustrated by Ilaria Guarducci: You guys. This book is genius! Think of hiding a small object in one of your tightly-fisted palms and asking your kiddo to guess which hand the object is in. Well, Guess Which Hand is exactly that — in board book form with a wheel to turn and flaps to lift. This is one of my favorite interactive books for toddlers. As a result, it has become a go-to book for baby showers because of the joy and wonder it elicits in little ones! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Hooray for Hat!, by Brian Won: This is a darling friendship story for your littlest readers! The story begins as an elephant wakes up and feels awfully grumpy. Alas, a present outside his door reveals a fun new hat, and it brightens elephant’s mood considerably. What follows is an intro to several more grumpy animals, each in turn made happier when elephant and the others share their hats. This book perfectly illustrates the concept of paying it forward, teaching even the youngest readers that their simple actions can brighten the world around them. For our full review of Hooray for Hat! click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball, by Vicki Churchill, illustrated by Charles Fuge: Oh, how we love this book! This is such a fun story to act out and get down right silly with. I’ll never forget my kids making goofy faces and pigeon stepping around and around before falling down on their floors in endless giggles. Such a fun read with a sweet, sweet ending. One of our all time favorite unique baby books! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
TouchThinkLearn: Wiggles, by Claire Zucchelli-Romer: Little hands will get a workout with this fabulous book. Why? It encourages toddlers to trace their fingers along grooved paths that zig and zag and twist and turn. Our littlest readers are encouraged to play and explore in this hands on book that provides young kids with an amazing multi-sensory experience. An awesome book to enhance our children’s fine motor skills! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Chomp Goes the Alligator, by Matthew Van Fleet: This is a touchy-feely concept book, teaching kids how to count while also giving them a way to work their fine motor skills with a pull tab that makes the alligator’s mouth open and close. This book is a total winner for the younger set, and it will have your kids chomp, chomp, chomping all day long! Such a fun interactive book for toddlers, and your kids won’t be able to keep their hands off of it! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Hi-Five Animals!, by Ross Burach: Kids will absolutely adore giving “hi” fives to all of the animals that greet them in this adorable book. From animal sounds to bright pictures to interactive fun on every page, your toddlers won’t stop wanting to high five, and this engaging book will have your kids giggling long after the final page. Such a fun board book for your littles! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Counting Kisses, by Karen Katz: This is one of the most treasured stories on our shelf, and the very best board book to teach counting for the way it encourages affection and play between parent and child. In this story, a tired baby is getting ready for bed. What follows is a countdown of kisses given to the baby by all members of her family, starting on the babies’ tiny toes, then going up to her belly button and on to the top of her head… Until, of course, the baby falls sound asleep. For our full review of Counting Kisses, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Peekaboo Morning, by Rachel Isadora: Your baby will love playing peekaboo with the child in this book! He finds his mommy, his daddy, his puppy and even his favorite toy! We have long been fans of Isadora’s work, and we simply adore the vibrant illustrations and simple, interactive text in this diverse board book. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Gossie, by Olivier Dunrea: I have read this book so many times I can recite it by heart, at any time of day. This was a huge winner in our house, for we adored its lovely rhythm and cadence. Though it is simple, it has enough of a story that it keeps preschoolers thoroughly engaged and entertained as well. The best part about this story? It imparts to toddlers how sweet it is to share. There’s nothing better than that! For our full review of Gossie, click here! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Love Makes a Family, by Sophie Beer: We love inclusive, diverse board books that showcase so fabulously that the most important part of a family is love. It doesn’t matter what your family looks like, or who or how many people live in your home. Instead, family is where the heart is, sharing happy activities together, lending a helping hand, and, our favorite, reading just one more book together before bed. A gem! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
How Do You Say I Love You, by Hannah Elliott and illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez: I wish I had this when my babes were young, because they would have loved saying “I Love You” in TEN different languages! Complete with fun rhymes, sweet illustrations, and even a handy pronunciation guide, this is a fabulous diverse baby book to take children on a journey around the globe! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!