One of the best things you can do with your toddler is to read to them on a regular basis. Reading to your child has so many benefits, from learning language skills, developing early reading skills, and understanding life lessons. Children love to listen to stories, and it provides a wonderful bonding time for you and your little one. Reading before bedtime is also a great way to settle your child down and get them ready for sleep.
There are so many wonderful books that your child will enjoy hearing, it is hard to select which ones are the best! These stories, however, have been popular throughout the years, many of them winning awards and praise, and many generations of toddlers enjoying them again and again (and again!). Here are ten iconic books every toddler needs to read.
10 Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
No list of children's books would be complete without this Robert Munsch classic. It is a beautiful tale of a mother's love for her child that lasts throughout the years and all the different phases her child goes through. From the time he was an infant, to an exasperating toddler, to a child, teenager, and even an adult, her love never faded.
It lets kids know that their parent's love is endless, and it will follow them throughout their lives. The gentle song that the mother sings to her son every night is a lovely reminder that she will always be by his side, and she will always love him.
9 Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
The simple language and rhythm of this story is a perfect book to read to your child at bedtime. It is such a peaceful story to listen to, as it goes through all of the items in the room to say goodnight. Gentle rhymes throughout the story capture your attention, and the delightfully simple images are enjoyable to look at.
It is easy for your toddler to picture this peaceful little room getting all cozy and ready for bed. It helps them to transition to the same frame of mind, settling themselves for sleep. A nice routine that can be incorporated when reading this story is for you and your child to say goodnight to your own special items in the room. Lastly, say goodnight to each other and cozy down to sleep!
8 Corduroy by Dan Freeman
Corduroy is a delightful children's story that encourages your child's imagination. It explores the adventures of a little bear as he is explores the department store overnight. He is a lovely little bear who wants someone to buy him, yet when a little girl shows interest in him, her mother refuses to buy him because he is missing a button.
The story reveals Corduroy's adventures in the store as he goes in search of his missing button. He runs into all sorts of situations that your toddler will enjoy hearing about. It allows them to imagine what would happen if toys came alive, and how a toy would feel if he finally found his happy home.
7 The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is a beautiful story of kindness and generosity, with an important message of giving to others. It tells the story of a boy and a tree that spend many a day together. The boy plays under the tree, swings from its branches, and when he gets hungry, enjoys an apple from the tree.
As the boy grows up, he has less and less time for the tree, but the tree still finds way to give and help the boy. It is a story that goes full circle, with the boy coming back as an elderly man and needing a place to simply rest. The tree provides a stump for the old man to rest on, proving once again, that generosity never ends.
6 Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! is a humorous book that kids will love! It is about a stubborn little pigeon who insists on driving the bus, despite being told that he can't drive the bus. The spends the entire book trying to convince the readers to let him drive the bus.
This book gives kids the role of being the "responsible one", as they tell this pigeon that he is not allowed to drive the bus, no matter what he says. It also opens the discussion of following directions and when to say "no" to others. You can have that conversation with your child afterward, and ask them, "Why did you say no to the pigeon when he asked to steer the bus?". Or, you can just let them have fun yelling"NO!" to the pigeon when he asks his outrageous questions. It is a fun story either way!
5 The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
An all-time favourite children's story, The Story of Ferdinand tells the tale of a big, strong bull named Ferdinand. He is expected to buck, jump, and fight like all of the other bulls. However, there is something different about Ferdinand - he does not want to buck and fight, he merely wants to sit and smell the flowers.
Ferdinand is a story about being true to yourself and doing what you love to do, rather than what everyone is expecting you to do. The illustrations are adorable and engaging, and the description of Ferdinand as the soft-hearted gentle soul he is, is entertaining for children and adults alike.
4 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Books by Dr. Seuss are a wonderful introduction to poetry and rhyme, and children love the natural rhythm of the text. Green Eggs and Ham is one of the most popular books by this acclaimed author, and many children have enjoyed this story as kids and later on as grown ups reading to their own children.
This book is about Sam-I-Am trying to convince the narrator to try the delectable dish, green eggs and ham. He offers a variety of different dining options, in an attempt to get the narrator to taste it. The silliness of the story and the lyrical rhymes throughout it makes it an enjoyable read for children.
3 The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
No toddler bookshelf would be complete without a few books by Sandra Boynton, and it is challenging trying to select which one is the most iconic. Her stories are wonderful, humorous little books that often have a rhyming sequence to them that kids love.
The Going to Bed Book is a story about all of the animals on a boat getting ready for bedtime. It lists all of the steps they need to take, from getting on their pyjamas to brushing their teeth, in order to be ready for bed. They go up top for a final stretch and exercise, then down below to head to bed. Another great story to read your toddler at bedtime to help reinforce bedtime routines. The lyrical rhythm of the story will also help to settle their minds and get them ready for sleep.
2 On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
This book is a delightful story that explains the magic and wonder that took place when your child was born. It lets your child know how very special they are, how truly cherished they are, and what a magical experience it was when they entered the world. What better way to head off to sleep than the knowledge of how loved you are?
The illustrations in this book are stunning, and every page lists a mystical event (like polar bears dancing and geese flying home to celebrate) that took place on the night they were born. It sends a wonderful message to your child that they are unique and special, and that there is no one else in the world quite like them.
1 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
No list of iconic children's books would be complete without The Very Hungry Caterpillar! This beloved children's story has been enjoyed for more than 50 years, children, parents, and grandparents all recalling the vast amount of food this little caterpillar went through!
The story follows the journey of a little caterpillar from when he first hatches out of his egg, spending a full week munching on different food, then making his cocoon, and finally emerging weeks later as a beautiful butterfly. This book introduces so many good concepts to children, from the days of the week to the life cycle of a butterfly. With adorable, colorful images and simple to understand text, it is no wonder that this book is a classic!