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Best Books for 2 Year Olds

Updated on December 21, 2014

Great Books for 2 Year Olds

This article was first written when my eldest son was two years old. At the time we loved reading together and we still do now. At 2 years old, he was normally running about like a mad thing so it was always nice when we sat down together and read. Reading with a two year old has lots of benefits. It improves language and vocabulary. I really noticed this with my son. Reading together really helped his vocabulary and aged 2, he used to repeat words and phrases from the books. It is also nice to have quality time with a 2 year old without any distractions. Additionally, toddlers who have adults that read with them also tend to do better when they start school. So, start reading with your toddler. It's not just for Moms and Dad. Grandparents, carers, friends and siblings can read with young children too. Here are some great books I would recommend for reading to 2 year olds.

Update - I now have a second little boy who was 2 in June 2013 and we are exploring many of the books below together. I have updated the article for books that he likes too. My eldest is now 6 and his teachers have commented several times that he has a wide vocabulary. I really believe this is down to reading to him from an early age so it's well worth the effort.

Classic Books for 2 Year Olds

You can't really go wrong if you choose a book that has stood the test of time as it has been recommended by generations of children. Some of the books below are read at the toddler groups we go to and it is amazing how the young children will sit down, listen intently and join in the stories. They are great books to get your child joining in at home too. Here are a few top choice classic books below.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been a favorite with children for generations. Both my boys loved this book. The caterpillar eats through a different piece of food on each day of the week making it bigger until it turns into a beautiful butterfly Toddlers and kids love the fun book with holes that the caterpillar has eaten through.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Brown Bear and Friends)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Brown Bear and Friends)
The rythmn and rhyme of this book make it a classic. It's repetitive pattern had my son chiming in with some of the words as you read it to him.
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt
In we're going on a bear hunt tells the story of a family who are going on a bear hunt My eldest son and I used to chant along with the rhymes and make actions as we read the book. "We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day!, We're not scared. Oh-oh! Grass! Long, wavy grass. We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh, no! We've got to go through it!"
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book
25 years old and still a classic. Dear Zoo tells about a youngster who is looking for the perfect pet!
Where's Spot?
Where's Spot?
This is a classic lift the flap book. 2 year olds will enjoy lifting the flaps to find Spot!

Stories With Animals

Toddlers love learning about animals and are fascinated by stories with animals in them. Reading books is great because they get to be introduced to animals they aren't likely to see in the street everyday. Here are some great books featuring animals.

An author that writes good books with animals for 2 year olds is Sandra Boyton. I have featured a couple of her books in this article. Two more to check out are Barnyard Dance and Pajama Time

Llama Llama Red Pajama
Llama Llama Red Pajama
This is a perfect bedtime story for 2 year olds. It's simple, sweet, with lovely illustrations. It begins with the Llama's bedtime story and then Mama goes downstairs Llama, Llama red pajama, waiting, waiting for his mama, Mama isn't coming yet, Baby Llama starts to fret. It looks at little ones needs for comfort that mamas are always near, even if she's not right here.
Giraffes Can't Dance
Giraffes Can't Dance
Lovely illustrations and great rhymes. This is a book you can introduce to a 2 year old but it will last for years to come. It's a book that I as a parent enjoyed and did not tire of reading. It tells the story of Gerald who loves to dance but looks clumsy and awkward when he does. The other animals mock him which makes Gerald sad. Until one day he receives some advice from a friend. Everyone can dance but those that are different may need a different tune to dance too.
Sheep in a Jeep
Sheep in a Jeep
Another great rhyming book that you can introduce to a 2 year old child and they will still be enjoying it a few years later.
Moo Baa La La La
Moo Baa La La La
This is a great book to get 2 year olds joining in with. Fun to read too.
Bear Snores On: Board book
Bear Snores On: Board book
This is the classic board book version of Bear Snores On. The rhyming words and rhythm of the book make it fun to read. The phrases and the vocabulary are delightful - an itty-bitty mouse "pitter-pat, tip-toe, creep-crawls". And you'll also find - popping corn, fluff cold snow and the animals which "chew, chomp, crunch". The story tells of the events which happen while the great bear sleeps. Winter storm rages outside but bear snores on. Different animals arrive in his cave but bear snores on. The illustrations are adorable and will attract the attention of little ones.

Lovely Bedtime Books

Are you looking for a bedtime story for your 2 year old?

The best bedtime stories soothe your child and don't excite them too much. I find it's best not to read books that are too interactive or have children joining in at bedtime. Instead look for books with soothing rhymes and illustrations.

If I do read interactive books at bedtime I always try to finish off with a soothing book to calm my son down.

There are lots of them but here are two of my favorites.

The Going-To-Bed Book
The Going-To-Bed Book
This is one of my favorite bedtime books to read to my own son. It goes through the bedtime routine of the animals who live on a ship. The rhyming text even makes me feel sleep especially when they rock and rock and rock to sleep at the end.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Hardcover Books for Toddlers, Preschool Books for Kids)
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Hardcover Books for Toddlers, Preschool Books for Kids)
This is currently on the New York Times Bestseller Books for the Picture books category As the sun sets the trucks all get ready to say goodnight and rest their sleepy heads at the end of a busy day. Rhyming text and soothing illustrations make this a great book for bedtime.

Interactive Books for 2 Year Olds

There are some great interactive books for 2 year old. Both my boys loved books where they can lift flaps, touch and feel different textures, press buttons to hear sounds, pop up books, peek-a-boo books and books with puppets and figure puppets.

As well as the two books below here are a couple more to check out:

Peek A Who by Nina Laden - colorful pictures and simple rhyming texts help children guess what's peeking through the die-cut windows

Barnyard Boogie: Original Puppet Book
Barnyard Boogie: Original Puppet Book
I love this puppet book. Adults can put their hand in the puppet as they read the story and my boys were love it. Kids will love to have go at using the puppet too.
Curious George at the Zoo: A Touch and Feel Book
Curious George at the Zoo: A Touch and Feel Book
There is a lot going on in this book. Read the story and touch and feel the different animals (the black and white penguin's thick coat, the rhinos rough skin etc). You also have to spot where George is hiding on each page.

Lift the Flap Books for 2 Year Olds

One of the most popular interactive books are lift the flap books. Both my boys loved them. They enjoy opening the flaps. A word of warning - don't leave these books with your children on their own. My youngest has just ripped several of the flaps on one of his books. But with some supervision, these kinds of books really engaged my children

Let's Go to the Zoo: Fisher-Price Little People
Let's Go to the Zoo: Fisher-Price Little People
Love this book with excellent reviews. There are over 40 flaps to lift and as well as learning about animals and the noises they make it also covers colors, numbers and other themes too.

Julia Donaldson Books

My son and I love Julia Donaldson books. Her stories are beautifully illustrated. The rhyming is brilliant and I don't get tired of reading her books over and over. Our particular favorites are The Gruffalo and Room on a Broom. These books are guaranteed to be favorites in your collection for a long time. These books do have more text so are better for older 2 year olds or those who have a longer concentration span

The Snail and the Whale is featured below but also check out The Gruffalo and Room on a Broom.

The Snail and the Whale
The Snail and the Whale
When a tiny snail meets a humpback whale, the two travel together to far-off lands. It's a dream come true for the snail, who has never left home before. But when the whale swims too close to shore, will the snail be able to save her new friend?

Bestselling Books for 2014

It's always worth checking out the bestselling books for kids to give you ideas of some great books.

The New York Times Bestseller List for Picture books is a good place to start. This changes from week to week. It's also worth checking the bestselling books on too.

Here is a current bestseller at the time of writing.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
This book has been on The New York Times Bestseller list for months in the past and is still one of the bestselling kids books on amazon. Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as we steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries and other big messes! It's told in almost a song format so it's rhythm is great for teaching 2 year olds new language.

Best books for 2 year old girls

Obviously I don't have any girls but I do have a niece and this was one of her favorite books that her mom used to read to her.

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?
Do Princesses ride tricycles, climb trees, do chores, or have to eat the crusts of their bread? A cute and funny book which shows that being a princess is more about what we are on the inside.

Best Books for 2 Year Old Boys

Are you looking for books for 2 year old boys in particular?

My youngest son who's currently two is mad on all vehicles (cars, trucks and trains) so any books that feature anything that moves is a hit. Goodnight Train is another one of his favorites.

Other ideas for 2 year old boys include Chugga Chugga Choo Choo and My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis.

The Goodnight Train
The Goodnight Train
Choo Choo - Grab your teddy, climb aboard for this nightime adventure to dreamland station and whatever you do don't . . . close . . . your . . . eyes! A great bedtime book for little boys.

Best books for 2 year old boys in the UK

Here is an article with some links to the best books for 2 year old boys in the UK. There are recommendations to books featuring UK TV characters including Peppa Pig, Thomas, Roary the Racing Car and Bob the Builder as well as interactive books and classics.

Does your two year old have a book that they love? Or do you have feedback on any of the books featured? Please feel free to add suggestions and comments below.

Please let us know if there are any books you think 2 year olds would love?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always wondered if a two year old could learn how to read until I saw this post from a mom who says that it is possible for one to pronounce basic words. Now seeing this just goes to make that possibility more real to me.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My little boys favourite book is the very hungry caterpillar. I read this book EVERY night and I know the words by heart now ha ha.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      My kids used to love the books about Spot, the dog. My son also loved all books about trains - including some that you've mentioned here. He was a Thomas the Tank Engine fan, for sure!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      very helpful for my aunt's daughter i am glad you shared nice lens

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, LIttle Blue Truck, and My Truck is Stuck are my 2 year old son's favorite stories. Trucks and trains are his primary interest.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I also have a two year old son and he loves his books. We have several on this list but we may need to get a few more. Thanks for the great list!

    • babyandme profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice lens! Thanks for sharing! My daughter really enjoyed reading the Good Night, Gorilla and Good Night Moon books when she was three. :)

    • profile image

      thisisamyc lm 

      10 years ago

      We love those 'duck in a truck' and Hairy McClarey books here

    • profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 

      10 years ago

      Kipper... Thomas... animals... mommy and daddy... what a great collection. *blessed*

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Love this collection of books for toddlers.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      10 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Great lens. I love most of these. Being overseas I had to get creative and make a squidoo lens into a bedtme story for my toddler granddaughter for Christmas this year.

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 

      10 years ago

      Great list! My 2 year old son just loves it when we take the time to read to him. We need to do it more often!! Thanks for the lens!!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      I found a great informative post for this "2 year olds Books ". I am very impressive from this article post. Great Job very nice present information. I like very much this "2 year olds Books ". I have more interest in Dinosaurs Research Field. I like Dinosaurs Related News. my Dinosaurs related Social blog is Dinosaurs

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great selection of books. My favourite is the Gruffalo.

    • ILoveLegosToo profile image

      Tom Fattes 

      12 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I think you hit all the big ones. We loved Goodnight Moon when my kids were young. Eric Carle and Jan Brett are two of my favorite authors. I lensrolled this to my Eric Carle and Jan Brett lenses


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