Toddler Storytime Books: Authors to Know

One of the most common questions I get asked by people new to storytime is what to read to toddlers. Toddlers are a tricky group.  They can go from being engaged to running around the room in a matter of seconds.  I’ve written before about toddler language acquisition and how we can support it through our pacing.  Today I want to share a group of authors whose books meet the language development needs of toddlers and that work well in a storytime setting. I chose authors that have at least three books that fit within these parameters. I’m hoping this post can serve as a guide for those looking to get familiar with what makes a good toddler storytime book.

If I missed one of your favourites, please let me know in the comments! For even more toddler storytime read alouds, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my toddler storytime series and my annual storytime favourites booklists.

Keith Baker

Baker’s books often showcase an appreciation for nature.  He’s got a few nursery rhyme adaptations too.

My Picks:

  • Big Fat Hen
  • No Two Alike
  • Little Green

Byron Barton

I think I’ve referred to Barton as king of toddler books before. He just gets them.  His books feature everyday objects.

My Picks:

  • My House
  • My Bike
  • My Bus

Karen Beaumont

You can sing two of these which toddlers love.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

My Picks:

  • I Like Myself!; illustrated by David Catrow
  • I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!; illustrated by David Catrow
  • Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?; illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

John Butler

Butler’s books combine adorable animals, animal sounds, and guessing games. A classic author to know.

My Picks:

  • If You See a Kitten
  • Whose Nose and Toes?
  • Whose Baby Am I?
  • Ten in the Den

Jane Cabrera

Known for her singable books, Cabrera has an array nursery rhymes and classic songs in book format. Her illustrations are oh-so-cute.

My Picks:

  • Peek-a-boo Zoo!
  • The Wheels on the Bus
  • If You’re Happy and You Know It!
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Eric Carle

One of the most well-known authors for children. If you can snag a pop-up version of any of his books they are well worth it!

My Picks:

  • From Head to Toe
  • The Very Busy Spider
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse

David A. Carter

A smart choice for pop-up singable books.  Though his books are smaller in size, they still captivate a toddler audience. Thank you to Gina (in the comments) for reminding me of these gems.

My Picks:

  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • If You’re a Robot and You Know It
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Marie Torres Cimarusti

Your go-to lift-the-flap author!  Fun and filled with animal sounds.

My Picks:

  • Peek-a-Moo!
  • Peek-a-Pet!
  • Peek-a-Choo Choo!

Lucy Cousins

Best known for her Maisy the mouse character, these three books have big pages perfect for large toddler groups.

hooray for birds

My Picks:

  • Hooray for Birds!
  • Hooray for Fish!
  • Maisy’s Rainbow Dream

Linda Davick

Her diverse set of round-headed kids are the perfect addition to a toddler storytime.

My Picks:

  • Say Hello!
  • We Love You, Rosie!
  • I Love You, Nose! I Love You, Toes!

Emma Dodd

Dodd’s books feature simple sentence structure and unique vocabulary.  Many of her books feature common household pets.

My Picks:

  • I Love Bugs!
  • Dog’s Colorful Day
  • I Don’t Want a Posh Dog!
  • I Don’t Want a Cool Cat!

Ed Emberley

If you need a monster book that doesn’t scare kids, Emberley is your author!

Go Away, Big Green Monster!

My Picks:

  • Go Away, Big Green Monster!
  • Nighty Night Little Green Monster
  • If You’re a Monster and You Know It; written with his daughter Rebecca Emberley

Denise Fleming

Fleming has a distinctive art style and most of her books feature sparse phrases filled with wonderful unique vocabulary.

5 little ducks

My Picks:

  • Five Little Ducks
  • Maggie and Michael Get Dressed
  • Lunch
  • Underground

Mem Fox

Fox has many books that are baby focused but most of them work really well for those just-toddlers who wobble around and explore everything.

My Picks:

  • Baby Bedtime; illustrated by Emma Quay
  • Hello Baby!; illustrated by Steve Jenkins
  • Two Little Monkeys; illustrated by Jill Barton

Emma Garcia

Garcia’s books are perfect for the transportation or construction work enthusiast. Repetition and sounds effects included.

chugga chugga choo choo

My Picks:

  • Chugga Chugga Choo Choo
  • Toot Toot Beep Beep
  • Tap Tap Bang Bang
  • Tip Tip Dig Dig

Edward Gibbs

These books straddle the toddler/preschool line, but they can work great in a toddler storytime when everyone repeats the phrase, “I spy with my little eye” all together.

My Picks:

  • I Spy With My Little Eye
  • I Spy Pets
  • I Spy Under the Sea
  • I Spy on the Farm

Emily Gravett

Gravett’s books have a great rhythm without rhyming. A few have a twist ending which caregivers and older children enjoy.

My picks:

  • Blue Chameleon
  • Monkey and Me
  • Dogs

Kevin Henkes

A master of gentle nature themed books. Great for seasonal reads.

My Picks:

  • When Spring Comes
  • A Good Day
  • Little White Rabbit

Petr HorÑček

If you need a great pop-up concept book look no further. These capture the attention of wriggly toddlers and show off a wide array of animals.

My Picks:

  • Butterfly, Butterfly: A Book of Colors
  • One Spotted Giraffe: A Counting Pop-up Book
  • Animal Opposites: A Pop-up Book

Eric Litwin

Litwin’s books feature predictable text patterns with short songs interspersed. Great for preschoolers too, the key to getting them to work with toddlers is getting the caregivers to sing along with you. They make great felt stories too.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

My Picks:

  • Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes; illustrated by James Dean
  • Pete the Cat: My Four Groovy Buttons; illustrated by James Dean
  • Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Jonathan London

Known for his Froggy books, London also has a collection of transportation themed picture books perfect for toddlers. And don’t forget his animal walking sounds book!

My Picks:

  • A Train Goes Clickety-Clack; illustrated by Denis Roche
  • A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa; illustrated by Denis Roche
  • A Plane Goes Ka-zoom!; illustrated by Denis Roche
  • Wiggle Waggle; illustrated by Michael Rex

Bill Martin Jr.

You may recognize these from your own childhood. The repetitive structure is perfect for toddlers. Bonus tip: You can sing them to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

My Picks:

  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?; illustrated by Eric Carle
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?; illustrated by Eric Carle
  • Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?; illustrated by Eric Carle
  • Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?; illustrated by Eric Carle

Flora McDonnell

Simple text and big pages make these books perfect for toddlers. These may be out of print, so grab a copy if you see one!

My Picks:

  • I Love Animals
  • Splash!
  • Giddy-up! Let’s Ride!

Mary Murphy

Murphy’s books are great for promoting a loving, positive relationship between toddler and caregiver. They’ve also got great animal sounds.

My Picks:

  • Say Hello Like This!
  • A Kiss Like This
  • Good Night Like This

Il Sung Na

Dreamy illustrations fill these wonderful books about animals.

My Picks:

  • Welcome Home, Bear
  • The Opposite Zoo
  • A Book of Babies

Leslie Patricelli

Known for her adorable board books, Patriceclli also has some picture books that are perfect for toddlers.

My Picks:

  • The Birthday Box
  • Higher! Higher!
  • Faster! Faster!

Michael Rosen

Rosen has all sorts of different stories for little ones. Try reading one of his poems to highlight poetry even for toddlers.

My Picks:

  • The Bus is for Us!; illustrated by Gillian Tyler
  • Tiny Little Fly; illustrated by Kevin Waldron
  • A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young; illustrated by Chris Riddell

Ellie Sandall

Sandall only has two toddler storytime gems so far but I’m including her here because I just know she’s bound to another soon! Her third book, Everybunny Count! comes out this year so I’ll update this page after I’ve read it.

everybunny dance

My Picks:

  • Everybunny Dance!
  • Follow Me!

April Pulley Sayre

Sayre is a prolific writer and has tons of storytime gems. Her non-fiction ones are top notch featuring wondeful vocabulary and stunning photographs of nature.

full of fall

My Picks:

  • Full of Fall
  • Best in Snow
  • Raindrops Roll
  • If You’re Hoppy; illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic

Bob Shea

Shea’s dinosaur series is great for those little ones who just need to roar!

My Picks:

  • Dinosaur vs. Bedtime
  • Dinosaur vs. The Library
  • Dinosaur vs. The Potty

Nicola Smee

Join Smee’s group of animal friends for different adventures. You can act out these books or have toddler jump in a lap for some bouncing or rocking while you read. Thank you to Gina (in the comments) for reminding me of these!

My Picks:

  • Clip-Clop
  • Splish- Splash
  • Jingle-Jingle

Philemon Sturges

Sturges’s books are great for celebrating a child’s love of different things. Short, simple sentences paired with boldly coloured illustrations are a great combo.

My Picks:

  • I Love Bugs!; illustrated by Shari Halpern
  • I Love Trains!; illustrated by Shari Halpern
  • I Love Trucks!; illustrated by Shari Halpern

Simms Taback

In Taback’s series readers guess the animals hiding behind the flaps. Fold out pages make for a lovely surprise for toddlers.

My Picks:

  • Simms Taback’s City Animals
  • Simms Taback’s Farm Animals
  • Simms Taback’s Dinosaurs

Nancy Tafuri

Tafuri’s books feature repetition, short sentences, and lots of farm animals.

My Picks:

  • All Kinds of Kisses
  • The Busy Little Squirrel
  • Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails
  • This is the Farmer

Jan Thomas

Thomas has a great sense of humour and even if the toddlers don’t completely get the jokes the caregivers will.

My Picks:

  • Is Everyone Ready for Fun?
  • Pumpkin Trouble
  • Rhyming Dust Bunnies

Those are my picks for toddler storytime authors to know. Did I miss one of your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

33 thoughts on “Toddler Storytime Books: Authors to Know

  1. Thank you SO much for posting this list! It’s so helpful to have a list of authors to go off of when I have limited time at the library and a squirmy LO on hand. Love all y’alls recommendations! Keep up the good work πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! We really appreciate getting this feedback πŸ™‚

  2. What a great list! Some I’m familiar with (I actually just read “Say Hello” by Davick on Tuesday!), and a bunch that I’m not. THANK YOU! It’s always good to have more options to explore!

    1. You are so welcome, Anne πŸ™‚

  3. Awesome list! Nicola Smee is another one of my favorites. The toddlers love Clip-clop, Jingle-jingle, and splish-splash. I also use David Carter’s If You’re Happy and You Know It, Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar, and Old MacDonald Had a Farm (though those may be out of print and hard to find).

    1. Oh, Nicola Smee, how could I forget her! I’ll go back and add her in. David Carter has a new one called If You’re a Robot and You Know it so I think I’ll add him in too. Thanks so much for these suggestions – you rock!

  4. What a fantastic list! I’m familiar with many of these authors and can’t wait to explore the ones I’m not familiar with! Thank you!

    1. Yay! Thanks so much for stopping by πŸ™‚

  5. Thanks for the great list. Some I know and some I can’t wait to try out. I have discovered that toddlers get confused when a two page layout has the same character on each of the pages. I now try to find books where there is one picture for each 2-page spread. Anyone else find that?

    1. I read a book to my niece when she was a preschooler and she got confused by that too. Definitely extends beyond the toddler years as kids try to make sense of the art in picture books. A great chance to discuss the illustrations though!

  6. Thanks so much for a fantastic list! Many I know and love, but some are new. Can’t wait to check them out!

    1. Awesome! Hope you like the new ones πŸ™‚

  7. This list is so helpful! Your website in general is always my go-to when I’m stuck for storytime ideas! Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Emily! Means a lot πŸ™‚

  8. I love, love, love this list! Thank you for all the work you put into compiling these great books / authors in one place.

    1. You are so welcome! It’s so nice to get this positive feedback πŸ™‚

  9. This list is great! I’ve been having a tough time figuring out what level of books the toddlers can handle, coming from working with PreK – 4th grade. I really appreciate such an in depth list of examples.

  10. OMG this list is so awesome! Thanks so much for everything y’all do. πŸ™‚
    Jane Cabrera is my current Toddler storytime fave. I just added a bunch of these to my own list.

    I would also recommend Lois Ehlert’s “Planting a Rainbow” (shameless plug for my feltboard version: ) and “Growing Vegetable Soup” and Todd Parr’s “It’s Okay to Make Mistakes,” “It’s Okay to be Different,” or really anything of his other than the “Goodbye Book” since I generally avoid death as a Toddler Time theme…

    1. Thanks for the additional suggestions, Keith! I am continually in awe of your felt skills. Like seriously, they are works of art!

  11. This is the perfect list-thank you so much!

    1. You are very welcome πŸ™‚ So glad you’ve found it helpful.

  12. This is a great list, thanks for posting it! I’m familiar with most of them, but often overlook them as I work with mostly 4-5 year olds and tend to do longer books with more humor. But, after 3 years and literally hundreds of outreach preschool storytimes, I’m starting a new job soon where I will be back in the library in the children’s department doing family storytimes that I’ve been told often skew more toddler-ish, so I’ll probably be looking to your blog a lot in the next few months as I adapt to having a younger crowd with parents!

    1. I’m glad this list is useful even to old pros like yourself! Toddlers have a special place in my heart. I love your blog by the way – you always share such amazing ideas and I am in constant awe of your upload schedule πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks so much for noticing and complimenting my little blog πŸ™‚ I don’t really think of myself as an old pro, but working in a designated outreach position is definitely a good way to get a lot of program experience in a very short time!

  13. I don’t know how I’m just now seeing this for the first time but this is PERFECT and so helpful! I kept finding other toddler recommended reads lists that had no idea what they were talking about and kept recommending books that were not age-appropriate. I agree with everything on this list. Thank you so much!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I also find a lot of bookseller websites have a very broad definition of “toddler,” whereas I used general child development principles. Also, as children’s librarians we have experience actually working with the age group πŸ™‚

  14. Thank you so much for your toddler and baby time guides! They are so well thought out. Every time I run into a problem with a program for those age groups I reread your posts, and most of the time I find something that helps. I’m starting Preschool Storytime soon, and while that age group has some things in common with toddlers, I am curious to know what you change for these story times. For example, what books you enjoy for preschoolers, and whether you repeat songs for preschool story times as much. And if you ever are inspired to write a similar guide for Preschool I will be so excited!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Crystal! I’m glad these blog posts are still useful. That’s a great idea to write about preschool storytimes. I do many of the same things, but I find that they can handle longer stories and sometimes even prefer less singing to more reading. They are starting to develop a sense of humour so you can also play with puppets in a different way. As for songs, I always repeat the same welcome and goodbye song, but I might try variations of favourites during the storytime. For example, instead of singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” we might sing “If You’re a Dog and You Know it, Wag Your Tail” and add in a bunch of silly verses. I find with preschoolers they can be more involved in the decision making and in the storytelling itself. They definitely still benefit from a good storytime structure and routine, but I will often spend more or less time on certain things if I can see their interest is waxing or waning. I’ll add preschool storytime to my list of blog posts to write!

  15. This is a great Toddler book list — and I’ve used several of these books for storytimes!

  16. Thank you for all the great info on your website and in your blog! Your suggestions are great – I also really love Todd Parr, for his colorful artwork, his positive messaging, and his not-too-wordy text!

    1. Yes! He has a new one out this year that is making my best of list for sure.

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