I am of the opinion that books are appropriate for any occasion, whether you’re traveling, learning a new skill, or just winding down for the day. Reading makes everything better. And this goes double when you’re a parent, because reading is a great way to teach your child new concepts, help him settle down, or even goof off together. (And, let’s face it, reading children’s lit is fun for you too, right?) From classics to more modern tales, there are definitely some books parents and toddlers should read together.
Of course tucking into a good book at bedtime is a given, but you can find a reason to make any occasion appropriate for story time. Whether you’re teaching your toddler about important concepts such as opposites or just trying to stay entertained on a rainy day, these reads can help you bond over a fun shared activity. The best part? You can watch your toddler’s imagination and creativity grow with every read.
So here are 15 books for you to share with your toddler for any occasion. They’re all smart, sweet stories that your toddler will love to hear again (and again, and again.) Fortunately, with stories this good, you won’t even mind the repetition.
When It’s Snack Time
Consider using The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to get your kiddo to eat fruits and veggies. The title character has no qualms about tearing through apples, pears, and almost anything else.
When It’s Time to Rhyme
Peek-a-Who by Nina Laden is a fun rhyming book that will have you and your kid cracking up with every read. Bonus points if you narrate the whole thing in an outrageous voice.
When You Need to Move
Zoom, Zoom Baby!, an interactive book by Karen Katz, invites your little reader to lift the flap and explore hidden images as you read. This is a great way to explore various modes of transportation, especially if you’re traveling.
When You’re Feeling Silly
Doggies by Sandra Boynton is a counting book, but it also invites the reader to give a full-on performance as various, well, dogs. If you and your kid are in a silly mood, act out the various barks in this book to keep the laughter going.
When It’s Arts and Crafts Time
You will never look at your kid’s art supplies the same way again after reading The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This is not only a fun way to review the colors with your kid, but also an inspired take on the hidden lives of ordinary objects.
When You Need A Getaway
Paris by Ashley Evanson teaches your toddler all about shapes -- as well as the City of Light. You can explain the basics of rectangles and ovals while envisioning a stroll by the Seine.
When It’s Opposite Day
Hippopposites by Janik Coat is sleek enough for sophisticated design sensibilities, but fun enough for toddlers. Teach your kid about the concept of opposites with this book of adorable red hippos.
When You Need to Keep Grooving
I first learned about Pete the Cat from my children’s librarian friend, who waxed poetic about this little dude’s adventures. And she’s right. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin is a terrific and catchy story for toddlers and grown-ups alike.
When You Need a Time-Out
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems features a humorous take on something parents of toddlers know all too well: temper tantrums. You can find a little comic relief as this pigeon goes through every trick in the book (including a full-on meltdown) as he tries to wheedle his way into driving a bus.
When You Need to Mind Your Manners
Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book is a toddler lit classic (you might remember it from your own childhood). And with friendly characters like Lowly Worm leading the way, you can help your toddler polish up her etiquette while enjoying a fun story.
When Your Family is Growing
Introducing the idea of a new baby to your toddler gets a little easier with help from My New Baby by Rachel Fuller. This book outlines the everyday ways that a new baby will affect your toddler’s life, and provides a positive outlook on the new family member.
When It’s a Rainy Day
Rain! by Linda Ashman is the perfect read for a drizzly day. The adorable illustrations depict a cheerful boy who makes the best of a rainy day by leaping into puddles throughout his city.
When You Need to Spell It Out
Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli is an interactive board book that helps your toddler connect the physical shapes of letters to their sound. Hey, in no time at all, your toddler will be reading to you!
When It’s Bedtime
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is a bedtime classic. As your little one helps the little rabbit get ready for bed, she’s certain to get quiet and ready for her own slumber.