Great Gift Books for Kids Ages 1 to 3

Nothing is more important to a child's intellectual development than reading. Resist the temptation to sit your kid in front of the television for as long as you possibly can and instead spend time with them each day reading a book to them and your child will reap the rewards. These are some great books to start with in developing your child's love for reading.

The Going to Bed Book

I've read this one so many times that I can recite it from memory, as can many parents. More than any other, this book was the central read in my son's bedtime ritual and one of his first words was exclaiming "exercise" when Sandra Boyton's silly animals finished brushing their teeth and head upstairs. A wonderful book that's easy to read and helps kids with phonics, like so many rhyming books.

The Foolish Tortoise by Eric Carle
The Foolish Tortoise by Eric Carle

The Foolish Tortoise

Eric Carle has a number of kid's books, both ones that he's illustrated and ones that he's written. My sense is that "The Mixed-Up Chameleon" is the most popular of his books, but I much prefer this one. The former is kind of cute because it's obvious that kids had a hand in developing the story. With this one, the narrative is much more clear - about a tortoise who decides to leave his shell so that he can be faster, only to find that he still isn't fast enough and ultimately realizes he should have appreciated his shell more.

Llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney
Llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama

This book is a recent discovery for us and came at a perfect time because I've always had trouble getting my son to let me leave the room as he's falling asleep. I've mostly had to sit there until he falls asleep. I think I can credit this book, and the cute story of a llama throwing a fit because he's trying to go to sleep and his mother is downstairs, with helping my son understand that just because we're not in the room, we're still right there.

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyton
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boyton
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Guess I Much I Love You

This is perhaps the lovliest of all the children's book stories, about a young rabbit and his parent trying to outdo each other in the expression of their love. If the baby rabbit expresses his love by how high he can jump, the parent is able to love his baby just a little bit more. When the baby rabbit thinks he's finally got a distance that his parent can't match (all the way to the moon), the parent puts him to sleep and the book ends with one of my favorite lines: "I love you all the way to the moon, and back."

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are

I think more than most children's books, this one challenges the imagination. And to be honest, it's probably for kids a little older than three, but I think you can never start to early challenging kids to imagine things outside of their own world. Here, Max gets sent to bed without his supper and imagines himself king of the wild things, but becomes lonely and misses his mother, returning to find how much his mother loves him because his dinner is waiting there for him and it's still hot. This was one of my favorite books as a kid.

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What are Your Favorite Children's Books? 3 comments

Matt in Jax profile image

Matt in Jax 5 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

Definitely remember seeing these books and enjoyed a few myself. Great list.


carolyn59 profile image

carolyn59 5 years ago from Gainesville, FL

I have always loved where the wild things are...


lilibees profile image

lilibees 5 years ago

"Guess How Much I Love You", is one of my most favorite books. My mother wrote a beautiful message in the back of a copy of this book for both me and my sister when we left home. Now I read it to my girls. Great Hub and Great books!

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