The last time I wrote about my favourite picture books to read in toddler storytime was three years ago! This updated list features a blend of newer publications with older titles I didn’t include in the first round. I’ve included a short note about why they make a great choice for toddler storytime or how I use them with this age group.
Want to see the other posts in my toddler storytime series? Here they are:
- How I Plan
- Favourite Read Alouds
- Favourite Songs and Rhymes
- Favourite Songs and Rhymes, Part 2
- Songs To Get the Wiggles Out
- Songs to Get the Wiggles Out, Part 2
- How I Incorporate Puppets
- Favourite Felt Stories
- Favourite Felt Stories, Part 2
Bear Counts by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman. Before reading this book I have caregivers practice the refrain with me: “Number, numbers everywhere. Can you count along with Bear?” I don’t read every single word – the focus is on practicing counting to 5. I encourage the toddlers to practice using their fingers to count while we read.
Big Bug by Henry Cole. Perfect for teaching opposites. Only a few words on each page allow you to compare and contrast things based on size and distance. Follow up with your favourite opposites song.
Boats Go by Steve Light. This one is part of a transportation-themed sound extravaganza. As large board books, they are perfect for those babies who are just walking. I encourage everyone to make the different sounds with me.
Breathe by Scott Magoon. Toddlers are notorious for being little balls of emotion. When I read this one we practice taking deep breaths together. I mention to caregivers that modeling deep breathing to kids is one way they learn how to calm themselves.
The Bus is for Us by Michael Rosen; illustrated Gillian Tyler. The pages are nice and big for your larger toddler crowds. We have lots of fun chanting, “The bus is for us!” I love the diverse array of children and the rhyming text. When I’m done reading, we always do a transportation song.
Butterfly, Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek. One of my favourite springtime reads for toddlers. Only one short sentence per page and you can talk about the different colours Lucy observes. The pop-out page at the end always delights the little ones. I follow it up with my favourite butterfly song.
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea. Before I read this book we practice making claws and roaring our terrible roars. I also like pointing out the letters while we read – R-O-A-R. Never to early to promote print awareness.
Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang. I’ve found that the toddlers love seeing all the different animals, while caregivers appreciate seeing a diversity of families. If it gets too long you can always skip a few pages.
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins. Big, bold illustrations hold a toddler’s attention. I truly believe Cousins is one of the masters of books for toddlers and this one explores all sorts of imaginative fish.
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won. I love reading this one to a mixed-age storytime group. With toddlers, practice making a grumpy face and cheering, “Hooray for hat!” before you begin reading. Caregivers always ask for a copy to take home.
Hello, Airplane! by Bill Cotter. I like reading this one in the summer when many families go on holiday. The sentences are short and sweet and you can sneak in a STEAM early literacy tip about prepositions such as above, over, and under.
I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison. With toddlers you can encourage them to point to the different body parts mentioned as the little girl walks through her neighbourhood. Perfect for getting out some energy while reading.
I Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges; illustrated by Shari Halpern. Super simple sentences allow you to read this one quickly or spend time talking about each insect if your toddlers have the attention span. I like to read it in the spring and summer.
If You’re a Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter. My new favourite pop-up book! The movable parts keep toddlers engaged, and the funny new verses are a refreshing twist to the classic song. Perfect for when you need to get up and move.
I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian; illustrated by Ann James. My co-worker Elizabeth taught me how to sing this book to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” and it’s been magical ever since. I have the the toddlers mimic the actions while I read – sniff, shake, tap, and stamp about. Could work well with scarves or egg shakers!
Jump! by Scott M. Fischer. Lots of great rhyming in this one. I either stand up and have the toddlers jump with me or I hand out scarves and they make their scarves jump as I read. I’ve also done a felt and puppet version that the kids love.
Little Mouse by Alison Murray. This is another fun one to act out. We practice waddling like a penguin and playing a trumpet like an elephant. You can also make the animal noises. The ending is sweet and you can encourage caregivers to read it again and find all the animals on the last page.
My Bus and My Bike by Byron Barton.
Say Hello! by Linda Davick. One of my new favourite books to read at the beginning of toddler storytime. I actually think you could read it every week and practice making all the different motions. Love the diversity of kids and the diversity of greetings.
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. My favourite winter read aloud! Also works great with a mixed-age group because the older kids will notice all the different items Ehlert uses to create the snow family. If you’ve just got toddlers though, the pages are nice and big and you can quickly scan through the snow people.
Supertruck by Stephen Savage.
This Little Chick by John Lawrence.
What a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss; illustrated by Tim Hopgood. This entire list could be singable books, but I thought I’d just mention a recent discovery. I had to practice this one a few times before reading it in a storytime, but once you get the tune down it’s quite a gentle song to sing and read.
Where is Baby? by Kathryn O. Galbraith; illustrated by John Butler.
What are your favourite books to read in toddler storytime? Let me know in the comments!