I have two kids who started reading at 4 years old, so I know how important reading to your toddler is. Finding books that match your child’s interests will set them on a great path to becoming readers. I’ve compiled some books my three children loved as 2-year-olds and other parent-recommended options to help you find ones your child will love.
Best Books for 2-Year-Olds
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
For children who love to say no, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! gives them the chance to say it to the Pigeon instead of to you!
This book is about a pigeon who wants to drive a bus, but the bus driver has asked the reader to not let the pigeon drive. The pigeon spends the book pleading for a chance, but kids are supposed to keep telling him no.
There isn’t a lot of text, and some of the subtle humor of the illustrations might be lost on 2-year-olds, but most of them do love to say no. And they usually love to tell someone else to stop doing something after they may hear it often from Mom and Dad.
I enjoy reading Pigeon books, and my kids have enjoyed them too. Besides responding no, there are opportunities to talk about how the pigeon is feeling based on the pictures.
The Monster At the End of This Book
The Monster at the End of This Book also gives kids a role in the story.
When Grover hears there is a monster at the end of the book, he asks readers not to turn any pages. When your child turns the page anyway, Grover has to get creative in attempts to stop them (for example, building a wall).
The ending is a silly conclusion to a nicely interactive book. There is a sequel that also features Elmo but follows the same basic concept: Another Monster at the End of This Book.
The familiar Sesame Street characters and the feeling of contributing to the story made this a favorite for my kids.
For a book with some built-in interaction, try Press Here.
Each page gives the reader an instruction (press the yellow dot, rub it, etc), and their action “changes” the picture to the next page.
While we haven’t read this one in my house, it looks like a great way to get a young child to interact with a text. My kids do like books where the narrator talks right to the readers.
Some parents say their young 2-year-old wasn’t interested in the book, but some kids liked it better a few months later.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a book celebrating the kinds of things parents want their kids to grow up to be.
It doesn’t focus on children’s future jobs or abilities, but on character traits like being kind and brave. The text unfolds in rhymes that parents say are easy to read aloud.
Illustrations are also a highlight for many parents, who say they are captivating. Other parents don’t think they go as well with the story.
If your toddler is a picky eater, they may enjoy Little Pea.
In this book, Little Pea likes to do all sorts of fun things, but he doesn’t like to eat his dinner: candy! But he has to finish all his sweets before he gets vegetables for dessert, which he loves.
Your 2-year-old will probably find this twist on your normal mealtimes very amusing. The illustrations are also simple, but cute.
Little Hoot is from the same author/illustrator team. It features a similar twist on what our kids really ask us: Little Hoot wants to go to bed when it gets dark, like his friends do. But Mom and Dad make him stay up late.
This Book Is Magic
This Book Is Magic is another book that calls for your toddler to interact with the pages.
In this book, your 2-year-old will perform magic tricks, like making a bunny appear with a tap or a ship disappear with the magic words. The illustrations are colorful depictions of circus animals and old-fashioned magic acts.
If sitting still for a story is hard for your child, give this one a try to see if the “magic” keeps them engaged.
You Hold Me Up
You Hold Me Up is not so much a story, but it was written to help young children understand how to be supportive of each other and think of how their decisions affect others.
The text helps promote reconciliation and empathy with simple phrases and colorful illustrations. It showcases characters who are Native American without overtly calling them out as such, so it is a quietly inclusive book as well.
Parents and teachers enjoy this one to instill lessons in their young children and students.
Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever
Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Golden Book) is a book my husband remembers his parents reading to him, and then they gave us a copy for our kids.
The book features many classic nursery rhymes with familiar-looking Richard Scarry animal illustrations. Favorites like “Jack Be Nimble,” “Simple Simon,” and “Three Little Kittens” are included as well as some more obscure poems.
Some of the text is not quite politically correct anymore (“I had to go to London to buy me a wife”), but nothing is impure or profane. You can skip those poems or change the text as you read. I would just recommend reading through it yourself first so you are prepared for any changes you want to make.
A benefit of the nursery rhyme format is each poem is fairly short, so you can read one at a time or a few in a sitting without taking too long. Reading the whole book in a sitting is long.
Richard Scarry also has many other beloved children’s books, like Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever (Giant Golden Book), and Richard Scarry’s Best Little Board Book Ever.
Best Board Books for 2-Year-Olds
The Going to Bed Book
Sandra Boynton’s The Going-To-Bed Book is a fun bedtime book. This was one of our favorites for years.
The book shows a group of animals on a boat getting ready for bed, including taking a bath, putting on PJs, and brushing teeth. The illustrations are cute and funny, and the text is fun to read aloud.
Some parents do object to the animals exercising before bed, since they want their kids to settle down instead of jumping around. But this was never a problem in our family. We giggled at the animals exercising in silly ways and went on with our routine.
There are so many other Sandra Boynton books I would recommend for young kids. Blue Hat, Green Hat, Moo Baa La La La, and Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods were some of my favorites that also provide some learning opportunities (about getting dressed, animal sounds, and feelings, respectively).
If Animals Kissed Good Night
If Animals Kissed Good Night is a sweet book my children have enjoyed. It features different animals kissing goodnight, each in a different way.
Giraffes stretch their necks, wolves howl, and the sloth moves super slowly. The book features mom and dad animals kissing their offspring goodnight, which is nice.
The illustrations are cute and colorful and the text rhymes in a charming way.
BabyLit Pride & Prejudice
Though picking books your child will enjoy is important, it’s good to have some that you also enjoy reading over and over, like LITTLE MISS AUSTEN: PRIDE & PREJUDICE.
This adorable board book turns Jane Austen’s classic novel into a counting book for toddlers. You can reminisce about Mr. Darcy and Lizzie falling in love as your 2-year-old practices counting.
If Jane Austen isn’t quite your cup of tea, you can find lots of other classic BabyLit options, including:
- Little Women: A BabyLit Playtime Primer (BabyLit Primers)
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A BabyLit Fairies Primer (BabyLit Primers)
- Moby-Dick: A BabyLit Ocean Primer (BabyLit Primers)
- The Classic Baby Lit Collection Boxed Set – Romeo & Juliet, Wizard of Oz, Sherlock Holmes, Pride & Prejudice, Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book
These also make great shower gifts for parents-to-be who love classic literature.
Baby University Board Books
Another option to keep your interest is the Baby University Board Book Set: Four Science Board Books for Babies (Baby University Board Book Sets). These colorful board books simplify physics concepts for you and your 2-year-old to enjoy.
While some parents said these books didn’t keep their toddlers’ interest, most found them entertaining and a good way to introduce science topics at a young age. I have given these as gifts and the parents loved them.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Giraffes Can’t Dance is the story of Gerald the giraffe who thinks he can’t dance with his long legs and neck.
The other animals make fun of Gerald, but when he gets inspiration, he discovers he is actually a great dancer. The illustrations are fun, and the rhyming text is well done.
I have thought the lesson of not believing what bullies say is a good one, but some parents find it a bit troubling. They think Gerald should find a different talent that makes him special rather than becoming the best dancer of them all.
The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books by Dr. Seuss
The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books is a nice introduction to Dr. Seuss books for your 2-year-old.
This set contains Hop on Pop; Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!; Ten Apples Up on Top!; and The Shape of Me and Other Stuff. They are condensed versions to fit in board books, but that makes them better for toddler attention spans.
The books are fairly small (the box is 4.7 x 2.4 x 5.9 inches), so some parents were disappointed in that. If you want a bigger size Dr. Seuss classic, try Hop on Pop, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, or Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection (Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, Fox in Socks).
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is a wonderful book for toddlers who love trucks and construction equipment.
The illustrations are charming, and the text about construction vehicles getting ready for bed is the perfect way to end an energetic child’s day.
We read the hardcover version of one a lot in my house, and I didn’t mind the repetition (as I did with some other books). There is a companion book by the same author/illustrator team that is also great: Steam Train, Dream Train and also Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, which is the daytime version of this book.
Another great bedtime book is Goodnight Moon. This is a true classic, and one my husband especially loved reading to our kids.
The rhyming text tells how a little bunny says goodnight to the objects around him before going to sleep. It is a bit old-fashioned (bowls full of mush aren’t very popular), but it is simple and sweet.
My kids loved looking for the little mouse that appears in the colored pictures. We also liked finding the similarities with Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny, though that may be better for slightly older kids.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a classic book for young kids. The illustrations are done by Eric Carle, and the animals are fun to look at.
Each page asks the animal shown what they see, and they see the animal that will appear on the next page. The text is very simple and repetitive, which helps young kids know what to expect next.
I do love the animal illustrations, though I think the people that appear at the end are a bit creepy. It wasn’t my favorite to read aloud over and over again with the repetition, but most kids enjoy it.
There are so many other wonderful books with Eric Carle illustrations as well. We love The Very Hungry Caterpillar (which has fun holes in the pages as the caterpillar eats through things) and The Very Busy Spider (which has spider web texture on many pages). The 3-D elements make them fun for young kids.
Sesame Street P is for Potty!
Another book featuring Seasme Street friends is P is for Potty! (Sesame Street) (Lift-the-Flap). While 2 is on the young side for full potty training, it is a good age to introduce the concept and create some interest.
Elmo and his cousin Albie learn about using the toilet and how kids can have accidents while they are learning. It also has flaps for your 2-year-old to open to see what’s underneath.
Some parents say the text is kind of long and complicated for toddlers, but many say the flaps and familiar characters keep the book enjoyable for their 2-year-old.
There’s a Bear on My Chair
There’s a Bear on My Chair is the story of a mouse who finds a bear in his chair and tries many tactics to get him to leave.
The rhyming text is short, and the illustrations are detailed and funny. Some parents think it promotes not sharing and not resolving conflict well, so maybe it will inspire conversations about how your child might solve the problem the mouse faces differently.
Most parents and kids say they really enjoy the story, though. Toddlers definitely can relate to encountering someone who won’t share.
All the World
All the World is a Caldecott Honor book with beautiful illustrations loved by parents and children alike.
It tells the story of family and friends throughout the day, with scenes toddlers can relate to. The message is the sense of connection in a family and to the world.
Adults say it is simple and soothing enough for babies and toddlers with enough complexity to engage older kids and adults as well.
The text is sometimes more of lines of nouns that rhyme (rather than sentences), which bothered some readers. But for 2-year-olds who might like to match a spoken word with something in the illustration, that might be great.
Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur
If your toddler loves dinosaurs, try Pop-up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur. We didn’t have this book, but my son would have loved this as a 2-year-old.
Each page features a flap or pop-up plus rhyming text to introduce a dinosaur. The illustrations are cute rather than realistic to the point of being scary.
It even gives a pronunciation for each dino name to help parents say them correctly, which is always a plus. Even after years of reading dinosaur books, I still come across some new ones I wish had a pronunciation guide for!
As with any book with flaps or pop-ups, you will probably want to supervise your toddler with this one so the 3-D elements don’t get ripped. Parents report it is fairly sturdy, though.
What Are Stars?
What are Stars? is another book to tackle some science topics for toddlers with flaps to help them stay engaged.
The text covers topics like what a star is, if people go to stars, and what star is closest to us in ways meant for young children. There are more than thirty flaps as well.
Parents say the book is sturdy, though of course flaps can tear with rough use. They are impressed with the illustrations and the information included.
I Want My Hat Back
I Want My Hat Back is about a bear who has lost his hat. He asks many animals if they have seen it before someone asks him a question that helps him in his search.
The text is all dialogue, and the illustrations are simple but funny as they give readers clues about the hat’s whereabouts.
While many parents find it funny and think the lesson of negative consequences for actions is appropriate, others don’t like the themes. Some find it promotes murder and lying, as there is some eating of other creatures implied.
Books for 2-Year-Olds Compared
The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed.
The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with
the product compared to others in the table.
Baby University Board Books $$$$ 9.9 9.4 You Hold Me Up $$$$ 9.0 9.8 I Want My Hat Back $$$$ 9.9 9.4 Little Pea $$$$ 9.7 9.4 Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever $$$$ 9.8 9.6 What Are Stars? $$$$ 9.4 9.6 The Little Blue Box of Bright and Early Board Books by Dr. Seuss $$$ 9.9 9.6 Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! $$$ 9.9 9.6 Press Here $$$ 9.9 9.6 This Book Is Magic $$$ 9.1 9.2 The Wonderful Things You Will Be $$$ 9.9 9.8 Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur $$$ 9.9 9.6 All the World $$$ 9.9 9.6 There's a Bear on My Chair $$$ 9.9 9.6 Giraffes Can't Dance $$ 9.9 9.6 Sesame Street P is for Potty! $$ 9.9 9.4 Goodnight Moon $$ 9.9 9.8 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? $$ 9.9 9.8 Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site $$ 9.9 9.8 The Going to Bed Book $$ 9.9 9.6 If Animals Kissed Good Night $$ 9.9 9.6 BabyLit Pride & Prejudice $$ 3.9 -0.2 The Monster At the End of This Book $$ 9.9 9.8
The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.
Making Story Time Fun!
How to Choose Books for a 2-Year-Old
All the books on this list can be read fairly quickly to match the typical 2-year-old attention span. Some of the books feature repetition, while others rely on illustrations to convey some of the ideas.
Quality illustrations you and your toddler will enjoy looking at is an important consideration, too. Illustrations don’t have to be super detailed to catch a child’s attention. Some are engaging with their humor or use of color.
Pleasant for Children and Parents
Some children’s books are just annoying to read multiple times. We chose books that you probably won’t mind reading over and over (and over) again.
Authors or Series
Books that rank high on our list are ones that are part of a series your child may like or by an author or illustrator they may enjoy more of. When you find a book your child loves, it is easy to find another in the series or by the same creators to add variety they will likely enjoy to your home library.
FAQs – Books for 2-Year-Olds
How do you choose the best books for 2-year-olds?
There are so many options for toddler books. Try picking some books about an interest your child has – vehicles, animals, dinosaurs, etc.
Engaging illustrations and fairly simple text are also important considerations at this age. You may need to try a variety of books before finding something your child connects with enough to sit still for.
Should I be reading to my toddler?
Yes! Reading to your child now is a great way to start his/her interest in books and reading, which will help with early learning and being prepared for school in a few years.
Incorporating reading into your child’s bedtime and naptime routines is a great way to start. If you have time to read other times in the day, that’s great too.
Experts agree reading aloud to kids helps them thrive.
How do I get my 2-year-old interested in a book?
If your child isn’t interested in sitting down for a whole book yet, start with just a page or two. Or look at the pictures and talk about what you see in them instead of reading the actual text.
You could also find an animal or character in the book to get up and act like to break up the sitting.
It may take some time to get your child interested in listening for longer, but don’t give up. Keep trying every day with a variety of books and you are sure to find something that your child connects with.
Here are some more ideas for establishing toddler reading time.
What are the best interactive books for a 2-year-old?
Interactive children’s books can come in many forms—textures to feel, “buttons” to push, or simply just a role in the story. They are a great way to engage your kiddo even more while reading. Our favorite interactive books are The Monster at the End of This Book, Press Here, and This Book Is Magic.
The Monster at the End of This Book is shorter than both This Book Is Magic and Press Here, and they all come in standard hardback format.
What are Stars, P is for Potty, and Pop-up Peekaboo are all shorter lift-the-flap board books, but What are Stars and P is for Potty are more educational.
What are good gifts for a 2-year-old?
Books are a great gift to inspire a love of reading in a toddler. Many of the books we recommend for 1-year-olds would also be good options for 2-year-olds as well.