We have compiled a list of 30 books which provide good learning opportunities for word learning in toddlers. Books and stories are a wonderful way to learn words. These books have been hand-picked by speech pathologists for their content, level and interest. When choosing books for toddlers, there are 5 points to keep in mind.
1. Illustrations – clear photographic images or colourful line drawings are popular. We always make sure that the pages aren’t too busy in order to keep the focus on the words/concepts we are choosing to target.
2. Novelty Value – tactile, pop up and lift the flap books can keep even the most distracted toddler on task for a bit longer. Check our list of books that pop up, here.
3. Basic content – toddlers don’t need fancy stories about aliens! This is the time to focus on building useful vocabulary about foods, animals, clothes and the like.
4. Rhythm, intonation, pattern – nursery rhyme books and those with lots of playsounds (whoosh, swish) are wonderful foundations for developing listening skills.
5. Authors – we have some favourite authors that you can always depend on for good quality toddler books. These include Rod Campbell, Alison Lester, Janet and Alan Ahlberg, Pamela Allen, Lucy Cousins, Eric Hill, Jo Lodge and Jeanette Rowe. We also love publishers Dorling Kindersely (DK) Peekaboo Series and Usborne Touch Feely Series.
Book List for Toddlers
(You can click on the titles to order online through Book Depository.)
1. What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen? by Nick Sharratt. One of our favourite author/illustrators. Very clear, attractive pictures with pull tabs. Kids love the way each page can change from something ‘nice’ to something ‘yukky’. Do you want strawberry tea or goblins wee?!
2. Toes Ears, Nose by Karen Katz. Very colourful illustrations but with little other distractions. Each page has a piece of clothing to lift up to see the body underneath. For example, lift the woollen hat to see the eyes. Great for learning body parts – eyes, ears, knees and for learning clothes – hat, glasses, shirt.
3. Where is Maisy? by Lucy Cousins. The Maisy series are fun books with familiar topics for toddlers. Maisy is hiding in this book for your child to find. You can talk about all the things in her house – stairs, cupboards. You can also use some location words – under, on, in.
4. This Little Piggy by Scholastic. This range of nursery rhyme puppet mitts is another of our favourites. You can put the puppet on your hand or your toddler’s hand. A wonderful way to keep your child entertained whilst listening to the beat and rhyme. Learn the actions and words with the little booklet attached to the mitt.
5. Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell. Buster has to look in all the animal homes to find some eggs for breakfast. Each page has a flap to open and this is where your toddler can say – no eggs. This repetition is great for learning. Finally at the end, Buster finds the eggs in the henhouse. Eggs, found it!
6. Baby Touch & Feel – Farm Animals . A touchy feely book with one animal per page. Clear photographic images make it ideal for babies. Make the animal noises and see if your child copies you.
7. Pop Up Peekaboo Things that Go by DK. One of our favourite publishers as their photo images are of a very high quality. The Peekaboo Series has a large flap to fold over on every page. This vehicle book is great for copying sounds – brrm, nee naw -a nice skill to build on if your toddler is not yet talking. A higher level is to talk about the cars and trucks naming them and what they do.
8. Ten Little Fingers & Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox. The rhyming and beat are very natural and repetitive in this book. Great for fostering listening skills. Also great for doing sentence completion. Ten little fingers and ten little……… Help your toddler to finish the sentence each time. Toes!
9. Spot’s First Easter by Eric Hill. The Spot series are popular and at just the right level for many toddlers. Big, bold drawings are great for talking about. In this Easter themed book, Spot needs to look for the Easter eggs around the house and garden. Great for using the repetition of egg, got it! or no eggs. Also good for talking about places around the house – shed, tree, bush.
10. The Tickle Book – lots of fun anticipating a tickle in this book. There are lots of tabs to pull, sliders and pop outs in this book. It has lots of detail on each page so more suited to older toddlers. There is a ‘tickle monster’ with a feather on each page to look for. You can say ‘tickle’ when you find it. As your toddler gets to know the book, a laugh can be had before the page is turned.
11. Whose Tail? by Funky Fun Books. A very tactile book – great for toddlers who need a bit more novelty in their books. Toddlers can pull on the tails sticking out of the book and guess which animals they belong to. Prompt words – tail, duck, sheep.
12. Counting Kisses by Karen Katz. Another highly repetitive book about bedtime. The familiarity of the theme is great for toddlers as is the repetition of the word Kiss. If your toddler can’t say this word yet, how about trying a kissing sound?
13. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox. The repetition is crucial in this book where toddlers need to find the green sheep. A great book for toddlers starting to use 2 words together – red sheep, bath sheep, thin sheep. For younger ones, you can practice ‘no’ each time you turn the page and ask if it is the green sheep?
14. Puppy Pals. This is a soft touch and feel book (machine washable). Each animal has a texture to feel. The whole book has a crinkly sound to it when the pages are turned. Great for feeling, pulling and listening to animal noises.
15. Pants. This delightful, colourful book is engaging. On each page is a different person or animal wearing underpants! Of course, they are silly and most children like to talk about pants! There are camels with pants on the hump, zebras with pants on the head and so on….
16. Busy Park. Children can look at all the familiar things in the park and move the tabs. The see-saw can go up and down, the gate can close. Great for active toddlers who need help to keep attention a bit longer.
17. Who Says Moo? by Jane Wolfe. This book is great for younger children learning animal noises. Tabs at the side of the book can be pulled to reveal another animal so the variety is especially appealing for a more active toddler learning animal sounds/names.
18. Pip & Posy : the Little Puddle The Pip and Posy series are beautifully and clearly illustrated. Very suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. In this book you can get practice at ‘Pip’ and ‘Posy’ on every page. When Pip wets his pants, there is a puddle on the floor.
19. One Mole digging a Hole. A counting book with clear simple rhyming pictures. On each page there is a different animal doing something in the garden. A mole digging a hole or a parrot with some carrots.
20. Spot Bakes a Cake . Spot makes a birthday cake with his mum. They get everything ready for Dad’s birthday including a card and cake. An easy lift the flap Spot book with a basic cooking sequence.
21. Buster Gets Dressed is another book for babies and toddlers. The Rod Campbell series has wonderfully simple line drawings suited to younger children learning words. You can repeat words like shirt or phrases like shirt on.
22. Happy Birthday! by Priddy Books. It is your birthday today so let’s talk about all the things that will happen. Invitations, presents, party food, games and birthday cake. Nice clear pictures with touch/feel pieces. Prompt words- cake, birthday, present, balloon. Why not also sing the birthday song?
23. Lift the Flap Things that Go. A lift the flap book with plenty of vehicles to look at. Suitable for toddlers and older. Each page has a variety of cars to look at, so the pages are quite ‘busy’. Great for practicing transport noises.
24. Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson. Fox is looking for his socks. Your toddler can look under all the flaps until he finds the socks. Are they under the stairs or in the box? Your toddler can answer ‘no’ until they are found!
25. Hide and Seek Pig by Julia Donaldson. Another quality board book by Julia Donaldson. Your toddler can look at each page and look for the Hen. Again the repetition of looking helps with language learning.
26. I Can do that. Using natural gestures to support early vocabulary development has been shown to help children learn new words more quickly. I Can Do That provides children with multiple opportunities to hear, see, say, and sign early verbs. With built-in interactive reading strategies, strong rhythm and rhyme patterns, and engaging illustrations, I Can Do That provides a multi-modal reading experience to support early word learning.
27. My Dad . A clever Anthony Browne book with lots of detail in the pages. Can be enjoyed by babies and preschoolers alike. Lots of good opportunities to say ‘Dad’ and to describe Dad ‘big dad’. A great book for verbs and action words. Dad can jump, walk, fight.
28. Animal Actions by Julia Donaldson. This is a book in the Gruffalo series for toddlers (with a more basic format). Get your toddler to copy all the animal actions as you read the book which is great for imitation skills. Or you can talk about all the verbs / action words.
29. That’s not my Puppy. This touch and feel book has a puppy on every page with a different texture. You can say ‘puppy’ or ‘dog’ on each page or shake head and say ‘no’.
30. Lulu’s Lunch by Camilla Reid. From the popular Lulu series for toddlers who like to be a little more active in their reading. On each page is a different food to either peel (banana), feel (sticky jam) or pull (spaghetti).