Once children have mastered a few basic names, it’s time to introduce books about whole families (specific kinds of vehicles, boats, trains, animals, …), as well as books about color, shape, size, locations, the ABC and more. Children may be interested in these books much earlier, but they first need the basics to learn more specific words. When reading these books, go beyond the routine labeling and point out connections, relationships, parts and wholes of things, and more. For example, if you see a dog, you can say – ‘See the doggy’s tail? What do doggy’s do with their tail? They wag their tail…’ (show and explain what wagging means); ‘Where’s the doggy’s paw? The doggy’s paw is like your foot.’ Talk about how things are the same but yet different, etc. Expand and diversify your words and structures. Going beyond the basic talk makes your language richer and gives toddles more opportunities to learn.

Word Families – Connections. Similarities, Differences between Things – More Advanced Word Learning

  • My Big Animal Book, Roger Priddy
  • Trucks (touch & feel book; different types of trucks), DK Publishing
  • Wild Animals (touch & feel book; adjectives), DK Publishing
  • Dear Zoo (about animals & size adjectives; lift the flap book), Rod Campbell
  • Rumble in the Jungle, Giles Andreae, David Wojtowycz
  • Commotion in the Ocean, Giles Andreae, David Wojtowycz
  • Cock-a-doodle-doo! Barnyard Hullabaloo, Giles Andreae, David Wojtowycz
  • I’m the biggest thing in the ocean, Kevin Sherry
  • Who’s at home? (lift-the-flap book; about animals), Jane E. Gerver, Kathryn Lynn Davis
  • Deep Sea Dive (lift-the-flap book about sea creatures, rhymes), Salina Yoon
  • Space Walk (lift-the-flap book, go on a space walk and visit the planets), Salina Yoon
  • Boats (kinds of boats), Byron Barton
  • Trucks (kinds of trucks), Byron Barton
  • Freight Train (about different types of trains and colors ), Donald Crews
  • Baby Bear, Baby Bear, what do you see? Bill Martin, Eric Carle
  • Tractors (touch & feel book), Parachute Press, DK Publishing
  • Way Far Away on a Wild Safari, Jan Peck, Valerie Petrone
  • Fast Food, (transforms familiar fruits and vegetables into animals and objects), Saxton Freymann

Action words, manners, familiar adjectives

Reading is about having fun and action words encourage the child to imitate the actions discussed in the book. That fosters his fine & gross motor skills.

  • From Head to Toe, (imitate animal movements), Eric Carle
  • Clap your hands (Sesame street puppet book; simple actions that can easily be copied – clap your hands, rub your tummy, etc.), Joe Ewers
  • Excuse me! A little book of manners. (a lift-the-flap book), Karen Katz
  • Yummy Yucky, Leslie Patricelli
  • Feet are not for kicking (clear illustrations, well-suited to imitate simple actions, teaches manners at the same time – what feet are for), Elizabeth Verdick, Marieka Heinlen
  • Hands are not for hitting (learn what hands can be used for; great to learn and imitate actions; learn also that violence is not OK), Martine Agassi, Marieka Heinlen
  • Teeth are not for biding (learn what you can do with teeth, great for imitation), Elizabeth Verdick, Marieka Heinlen

Potty books

Include some potty books as you start toilet training:

  • Potty, Leslie Patricelli
  • Big girls use the potty!, DK Publishing
  • Big boys use the potty!, DK Publishing
  • Where’s the poop? (about different animals and where they poop), Julie Markes, Susan Kathleen Hartung
  • Everyone poops, Taro Gomi, Amanda Mayer Stinchecum
  • A potty for me (lift-the-flap book), Karen Katz

Books with more complex story lines (For children older than 2 years)

Between the ages of two and three  is a good time to introduce simple stories that have a clear structure – a beginning, a middle and an end. Include concepts your child is very familiar with such as getting dressed, birthdays, and more. Many of the books read earlier, can be read again as you now focus more on the sequence and structure of events.  Include your child and ask questions about the story as you read it together, discuss the story after you’ve read it, and have your child ‘read’ it to you, as well.

  • The very hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • The grouchy ladybug, Eric Carle
  • Froggy gets dressed (a frog that wants to go out and play in the snow but needs to get dressed first), Jonathan London, Frank Remkiewicz
  • Froggy bakes a cake (for mother’s birthday; great to learn about the sequence of things), Jonathan London, Frank Remkiewicz
  • We’re going on a bear hunt, Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury
  • The happy egg, Ruth Krauss
  • Where’s my teddy? (feelings – searching for a missing teddy bear), Jez Alborough
  • The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle
  • Digger book (fun, clear illustrations for toddlers who are into digging and machinery), Andrea Zimmerman, David Clemesha
  • Big Red Barn (story about animals, clear illustrations), Margaret Wise Brown

Wordless or nearly wordless books

Include books without words or with very few words. Generally, when you start reading to your child, you can always simplify and adjust the text of the book to her language skills. From around 2 years onwards, start pointing to the print, so your child can start paying attention to it and develop print-awareness, a necessary pre-literacy skill. That said, also include wordless picture books since we know that caregivers use more diverse and complex language when reading these, something that fosters language learning and thinking. Also, your child can give you his own version of the pictures once you’ve read the book a few times. The examples we give here are for more AdvancedReaders.

  • Animals Home alone (once their owners leave, the animals do funny things – great for story telling and to develop memory skills), Loes Riphagen
  • Where’s Walrus? ( a walrus escapes from the zoo and disguises himself), Stephen Savage
  • A ball for Daisy, Chris Raschka
  • Pancakes for breakfast, Tomie dePaola
  • Hug, (encourages to recognize print in the only word throughout the book, ‘hug’; a baby chimpanzee searches for his mom as he watches other animals hug), Jez Alborough

Books about numbers, color, feelings, size, shapes Numbers

Start simple, with clear illustrations and only one number concept shown per page. Ideally, the particular number concept is given in letters (one), in the number (1), and goes with easy to count objects. As you count, point to each single object and give the corresponding number. Include books whose numbers go up to #10.

  • Ten little fingers, then little toes, Mem Fox
  • Doggies (Counting & barking book, encourages to imitate the number of barks/sounds), Sandra Boynton
  • Ten little ladybugs, Melanie Gerth
  • One big building: A counting book about construction (clear illustrations and text), Michael Dahl, Todd Ouren
  • Counting Kisses, (clear illustrations, counting up to 10 combined with actions), Karen Katz
  • Maisy’s first numbers: A Maisy Concept book (only goes up to # 5), Lucy Cousins
  • My first numbers board book, DK Publishing
  • My Granny went to Market: A Round-the-World-Counting Rhyme, (more advanced), Stella Blackstone, Christopher Corr
  • Numbers, Colors, Shapes, Roger Priddy
  • 10 little monkeys jumping on the bed, Pam Adams, Tina Freeman, Annie Kubler

Feelings, moods, & others

Read books that discuss a variety of feelings and moods your child experiences. It’s easier for your child to work through negative emotions of others than talking about his own. Include books that suggest healthy ways on how to deal with negative feelings.

  • Guess how much I love you, Sam Mc Bratney
  • Happy & sad (what makes a baby happy, what sad) Leslie Patricelli
  • You are my sunshine, Jimmy Davis, Caroline Jayne Church
  • Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, Sandra Boynton
  • I love you through and through, Bernadette Rossetti Shustak, Caroline Jayne Church
  • Baby happy, Baby sad, Leslie Patricelli
  • A ball for daisy (deals with the dog’s loss of his beloved toy and has a happy ending), Chris Raschka
  • Calm down time (learn about strong feelings and how to release them), Elizabeth Verdick, Marieka Heinlen
  • When I feel scared, Albert Whitman
  • Huggy, Kissy (clear illustration, simple text, encourages different ways of showing affection; great for imitation of actions), Leslie Patricelli

Colors

Children start to learn color words around two years of age. Between the ages of two and three, they master their basic colors. How quickly they understand and say color words, depends on the experiences they get. Start out simple, and focus on two color words using books with clear, simple illustrations – ideally with one colored object per page.

  • My First Colors Board Book, DK Publishing
  • Red, Blue, Yellow Shoe, Tana Hoban
  • Colors and shapes ( clear illustrations with one color per page; not ideal as a touch & fell book but good for learning colors and shapes), DK publishing
  • Spot looks at colors, Eric Hill
  • Green hat, blue hat, Sandra Boynton
  • I Love Colors (Board Book), Margaret Miller
  • Maisy’s first colors: A Maisy Concept Book (5 basic colors, bright illustrations), Lucy Cousins
  • Size, shape and location books
  • Big & Little: Board Book, Todd Parr
  • The Family Book, Todd Parr
  • Flip-a-Face Series: Big Little, Sami
  • Where’s the cat? (to learn about locations; bright illustrations), Stella Blackstone, Debbie Harter
  • Adjectives – Opposites, Sandra Boynton
  • Yes yes, no, no (a baby does no no activities on one side, and yes yes activities on the other; bright & clear illustrations), Leslie Patricelli
  • Quiet & loud (simple, clear illustrations; great for learning about the difference – you can act things out with your child as you read), Leslie Patricelli
  • Big & Little, Leslie Patricelli

Size, shape and location

  • Big & Little: Board Book, Todd Parr
  • The Family Book, Todd Parr
  • Flip-a-Face Series: Big Little, Sami
  • Where’s the cat? (to learn about locations; bright illustrations), Stella Blackstone, Debbie Harter

Adjectives – Opposites

  • Opposites, Sandra Boynton
  • Yes yes, no, no (a baby does no no activities on one side, and yes yes activities on the other; bright & clear illustrations), Leslie Patricelli
  • Quiet & loud (simple, clear illustrations; great for learning about the difference – you can act things out with your child as you read), Leslie Patricelli
  • Big & Little, Leslie Patricelli

Rhyme & Songs books (many go well with infants and toddlers)

Rhyme books are an essential part of any library. Young children love rhymes. Rhyme words foster children’s listening skills and awareness of sounds which prepare them for reading. Also, rhymes seem to make it easier to memorize and learn new words. Plus they are just simply plain old fun, and once your child is playing around with sounds, he can come up with his own silly rhyme words.

  • Wheels on the bus, go round and round, Annie Kubler
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little Star: And other favorite nursery rhymes, Sanja Rešček
  • Hickory Dickory Dock, Jonas Sickler
  • Humpty Dumpty, Jonas Sickler
  • Mary had a little lamb and other silly rhymes, Bruce Lansky, Stephen Carpenter
  • Old MacDonald had a farm, Jonas Sickler
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Annie Kubler
  • The cat in the hat, Dr. Seuss
  • Welcome, Baby! Baby Rhymes for Baby Times, Stephanie Calmenson, Melissa Sweet
  • Mother Goose’s Storytime Nursery Rhymes, Axel Scheffler

More advanced rhyme books

  • Llama, llama time to share, Anna Dewdney
  • Rumble in the Jungle, Giles Andreae, David Wojtowycz
  • Commotion in the Ocean, Giles Andreae, David Wojtowycz
  • Smash! Mash! There goes the Trash!, Barbara Odanaka, Will Hillenbrandt
  • Sheep in a Jeep, Nancy E. Shaw, Margot Apple
  • Silly Sally (story about Silly Sally who meets several animals, story is told in rhyming verses, fun, colorful illustrations), Audrey Wood
  • The snail and the whale (adventure story in rhymes, clear illustrations), Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler
  • Llama llama misses mama (deals with separation), Anna Dewdney

ABC books

Learning the alphabet takes time. At first children will learn to memorize the sequence. Choose books where the letter is written out, so you can point at it while sounding it out together with your child. Seeing the letter, and tracing it with you helps the child to develop print-knowledge, an important pre-literacy skills. Start simple, choose big letters first and have ideally only one letter per page. Having different letters as well as big and small ones of the same kind at first, can be confusing.

  • Alligators all Around, Maurice Sendak
  • ABC A child’s first alphabet book, Alison Jay
  • C is for Coco, Sloane Tanen, Stefan Hagen
  • B is for Bulldozer: A construction ABC, June Sobel & Melissa Iwai
  • A to Z (animal name & action combined: Hippos hiding) Sandra Boynton
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An amazing alphabet book! (repetitive structure which encourages learning of the question; clear & fun illustrations)