This is a list of ‘must have’ classic toddler books that have been family favorites for years, providing fun and learning through its simple story line, colorful pictures and rhythmic use of language. All these books were recommended by mums, and of course their discerning toddlers, a testament to being the best books for toddlers of all-time.
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
A vibrant picture book that tells a story of a very hungry caterpillar who went to look for some food.
- Toddlers love it, because of its bright colors and the holes in the book, where the caterpillar had ‘eaten’ through.
- Moms love it, because their child learns to count in a fun and interactive way. And they learn about nature as well, as the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly.
Try this hungry caterpillar craft activity to extend your child’s imagination. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic, written by Eric Carle, and much loved by toddlers and preschoolers. Its simple yet colorful images and text rhythm appeal to the youngest of children (as early as 6 months old with my kids) up to early school aged children. As a mum, I particularly like the educational experience of this short book as it covers concepts of counting, the days of the week and nature – how the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly.
Extend your child’s imagination with this hungry caterpillar craft activity. All you need are:
- Empty egg cartons, cut in half
- Pipe cleaners, cut into 5-10cm lengths
- Googly eyes (or as an alternative: small circle paper cut outs, then place a dot in the middle for the eyes)
Paint the empty egg carton green and leave one end to paint red, which will become the caterpillar’s head. To tell you the truth, my school-aged daughter painted the ‘proper caterpillar’ red and green, while I let the other little ones paint their caterpillars freely in whatever color and design they wanted (who says it had to be red and green?)… just let their imaginations run. Allow the painted egg cartons to dry.
When it is dry, poke holes with the end of a pair of scissors through the top of the ‘head’ and insert one end of a pipe cleaner from the top, letting it run through the bottom and out again on the other hole on top.
Stick on googly eyes (or circle paper cut outs) with PVA glue and you’re done – your child’s very own hungry caterpillar craft.
2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Kids learn about colors and animals in through repetition and the sing song text of this book.
- Toddlers love it, because of its vibrant colors and the repetition of words in the book.
- Moms love it, because toddlers learn animals and colors within the fun, rhythmic story line.
3. The Gruffalo
A witty little mouse outsmarts an owl, a snake, a fox and the Gruffalo in this funny English story book.
- Toddlers love it, because of the wonderful story line and rhyme in the text.
- Moms love it, because it teaches kids that even what may seem as the scariest monster, may not be as scary as they think it is.
4. Where is the Green Sheep?
The search of a green sheep comes to life in the colorful drawings and catchy text of this Australian toddler book classic.
- Toddlers love it, because of the interesting detail of each little sheep and its singsong text that is best read aloud.
- Moms love it, because toddlers learn adjectives and the concept of opposites (near & far, up & down, scared & brave) within a fun and engaging book.
5. Guess How Much I Love You
A little rabbit expresses his love for his dad, but the daddy rabbit expresses his greater love for his little one in this warm and charming story book: as far as he can hop and as far as he can reach.
- Toddlers love it, because of the charming characters (Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare) and the cute ways they show their love for each other.
- Moms love it, because it gives their child reassurance of just how much they love them.
6. Goodnight Moon
The perfect bedtime book which starts off with many elements: the green room, the telephone, the balloon, the cow jumping over the moon. As the poetry progresses, you find the story line winding down towards the end… Goodnight room… Goodnight moon.
- Toddlers love it, because of the repetition and rhyme in the text, especially when read aloud in a gentle tone.
- Moms love it, because its gentle poetry creates a cozy, lulling effect.
7. I Love You Through and Through
A rhyming story book that portrays the love between a toddler and its bear.
- Toddlers love it, because of its adorable illustration and rhyming singsong text.
- Moms love it, because it makes toddlers aware of their emotions (happy side, sad side, silly side, mad side).
8. Pajama Time
A bed-time book illustrating the rituals of going to bed in a fun way, through the use of animated characters and hilarious text.
- Toddlers love it, because of the vibrant colors, funny characters and rhythmic text.
- Moms love it, because it portrays going to bed as fun, happy and light.
9. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
An exciting story book about a brave young family going on a bear hunt, while passing through various obstacles along the way (wavy grass, cold river, swampy mud).
- Toddlers love it, because of the repetition, rhyme, catchy expressions (Oh-oh! Oh, no!) and animated text (Swishy swashy, Splash splosh)
- Moms love it, because it is an entertaining and exciting story that subtly teaches the values of persistence and bravery.
10. Little Spot Series of Board Books
Spot, the best loved puppy by preschoolers, became a toddler favorite over these past years, that more books on Spot and his adventures were published over the years.
- Toddlers love it, because of the adorable lead character (Spot), simple illustrations and its interactive ‘lift the flap’ style of books.
- Moms love it, because it is an engaging and interactive series of books, all with simple story lines.