Updating your child's library with age-appropriate picks, can help them better engage with books. In choosing the best books for 2 year olds, consider your child’s interests (mine loves animals and anything with wheels) and recent or upcoming milestones (for instance, walking turning into running, talking in short sentences, and potty training).
Reading is a shared experience with toddlers, but with your child’s expanding attention span at age 2, they can start sitting with a simple book on their own. The best books for 2-year-olds have a simple, short storyline geared toward an easily distracted toddler, but some simply have pictures and a few words in lieu of a storyline. Themes may center around concepts like sharing, or everyday rituals like bedtime or brushing teeth.
The right books can also foster your 2-year-old's skill development, like independence, understanding cause and effect, make-believe games, and counting. These skills can also include finding hidden things, pointing to or naming objects, repeating words (which helps them to complete sentences and rhymes), sorting shapes and colors, and following two-part instructions.
Board books are still the best for most toddlers because they can be easily wiped down and their sturdy construction makes them almost indestructible. No need to rule out hardcover, but board books probably make the most sense to avoid torn pages.
Several of the best books for 2-year-olds below are also bestsellers with high Amazon ratings and thousands of reviews, and some are long-loved classics, or even book-award recipients.
1. The Best Educational Book
This educational board book with 100 photos is a must-have for toddlers. Highly-rated with more than 1,500 reviews, parents love the vivid colors and clear photos that capture their child's attention. They credit the book with teaching toddlers several concepts — numbers, colors, and shapes — and encouraging them to learn new words and count. The book is part of the best-selling First 100 Words series from Priddy Books, which publishes books aiming to encourage children's creativity and development. With a padded cover and small size, 2-year-olds can comfortably sit with this simple book on their own.
Fans say: “My now 2-year-old son absolutely loves this book and I believe it has helped him learn his words. He loves going through each colorful page pointing to all the pictures and listening to me say the word. I highly recommend this book as a fun learning tool.”
2. The Best Interactive Book
Ready for the most fun you'll have reading to your 2-year-old? Press Here is an interactive book with instructions on each page to tap, touch, push, or shake brightly-colored dots and see what happens on the next page. Your child will develop skills, like pointing, following instructions, sorting colors, counting, cause and effect, imagination, and creativity—all while giggling.
Author Hervé Tullet, formerly an ad agency art director and magazine illustrator, is known as "The Prince of Preschool" for his children’s books, and this one's highly rated with more than 2,000 Amazon reviews. It's also on several best children's books lists, and it's the longest-running picture book on the New York Times bestseller list. And it's now available as a board book that's perfect for toddlers.
Fans say: “I've read this to 2 years olds and they just think this is a hoot. It is! They don't understand the permanence of the text and pages and are just delighted that their action changes the layout of the dots.”
3. The Best Classic
Here's a classic board book that deserves a spot on your 2-year-old's bookshelf. Corduroy tells the story of a curious department store teddy bear who goes in search of a missing button from his overalls, but ends up finding friendship and a new home.
A much-lauded book with a more complex storyline for your growing child, it's one of the first books inducted into the Indies Choice Book Awards Picture Book Hall of Fame. It has sold nearly 20 million copies, and Corduroy’s creator, Don Freeman, received the Kerlan Award for his contributions to children's literature. The book is also on several best children's books lists, including those from the New York Public Library, School Library Journal, and The National Education Association. Your toddler will love the charming illustrations of a familiar stuffed animal come to life.
Fans say: “I loved this classic as a child, and now we read it to my toddler son almost every night. He loves this book so much that he has even memorized some of the parts and recites them as we read at bedtime. Also, you can never go wrong with a board book.”
4. If You Love Goodnight Moon But Want To Try A New Bedtime Book
By age 2, your child may be ready for a new bedtime book. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will have that familiar singsong cadence with a new, longer story about every kind of truck on a construction site winding down for bedtime at day's end. The book's rhyming and repetition helps toddlers repeat words. It's a story they'll reach for again and again. This board book with rich, detailed illustrations is a New York Times best-selling children's book, and it's highly rated with more than 3,000 reviews.
Fans say: “My 2 year old son loves cars, trucks and construction vehicles. I purchased this because we were getting a little sick of reading goodnight moon every night. This quickly eclipsed Goodnight Moon, we read this every night at bed and sometimes during the day. The coolest part is wowing our friends when we drive by new construction and he yells out the correct names for the trucks.”
5. The Best for Potty Training
This potty training board book surprised reviewers, some of whom thought it seemed too simple at first but ended up loving it because of how it resonates with toddlers. Upon reading about a child who wonders if they should use the potty, toddlers take to potty training really well and even start using it on their own. It’s a book with few words, but seems to clue young readers into problem solving; the illustrations are key for communicating how to use a toilet to a 2-year-old. Once your toddler is ready to attempt this milestone, introduce this highly rated book with more than 3,000 reviews to help you both.
Fans say: “When I first read this book I was like "what"????? This is ridiculous, I don't even want to read this to my kid! Imagine it reading like this "see baby, see baby need to potty, see baby go potty. But seriously my 18 month old daughter was like "ok, read it again, 1 more time, um ok let's do it...I literally think Leslie Patricelli is a secret potty training genius - I credit this book with my babies early potty training. Just read this to your kid and get out of their way…”
6. The Best Lift-The-Flap Book
Lift-the-flap books are a toddler favorite, and best-selling Dear Zoo is definitely the one to read with a 2-year-old. In this board book, the zoo keeps sending animals that aren’t quite right until the perfect pet is finally found; each animal is hiding behind a flap, and children love uncovering and pointing to giraffes, elephants, and more. This pick with bright illustrations has a near-perfect rating on Amazon with more than 3,000 reviews, and has sold more than 2 million copies around the world.
Fans say: “I love this book!! I am a speech therapist and read this multiple times a day with my clients (mainly 2 year olds). It is a great book to encourage animal sounds, requesting for help (opening some of the boxes), and vocal play with young ones.”
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