The Best Books for Your Toddler’s Language Development

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Like most moms with toddlers, you might be worried about language development. With all three of my own kids, reading has been the best thing I have done to help improve their speech. Today I wanted to share my take on the best books for toddlers.

The Best Books for Toddlers

Almost every reputable source out there is going to tell you that reading to your kids is one of the best ways to help develop their speech and language. I totally believe this is true, but getting them to sit still long enough to get through a book can be pretty tricky sometimes.

After three kids and running a home daycare for several years, I have read an untold number of books to small children. Here are my best tips for picking books that will help them sit still long enough to get some of the benefits of storytime.

The best types of books for toddlers

Pick books that catch their interest

The very best book to read to your toddler is one that they actually want to sit down for. Pick books that pique their interest.

The more engaging the subject matter is for them, the longer they will sit and listen to you read. They will also be more inclined to want to read that book over and over with you.

The repetition of hearing familiar words is what helps their brains process and acquire new language. The more often they want to read a book, the better it’s going to help their language development.

My son loves cars and animals. (He is pretty much a walking stereotype despite having two older sisters.) I know if I want to encourage him to be interested in sitting down and reading with me, I should pick a book that has cars and trucks or animals.

The Best Books for Toddlers

Try to choose books that have realistic pictures

When choosing books for your toddler, especially between 12-24 months, try to pick books that feature realistic pictures as much as possible.

Cartoon drawings seem fun to adults, but young toddlers don’t have enough real-life experiences to process them. They can’t always recognize the connection between a cartoon drawing of a cow and what a cow would look like in real life.

Their attention is going to be more drawn to realistic pictures. They relate more to what they see in their day to day life. Toddlers especially love to look at babies and people.

As they get a broader range of associations with realistic pictures, you can start adding in the cartoon pictures more and more.

Choose books that allow your toddler to engage in storytime with you

Toddlers love to be active participants in anything that they do. They love to be able to touch, feel, (sometimes taste lol), and participate with the reading experience.

Lift the flap books, pop-up books, and touch and feel books are great for letting your toddler be more actively engaged in storytime.

Here are a few other tips for getting your toddler to interact with books:

  • Let them turn the pages (even if you haven’t finished reading it yet)
  • Ask them to point to different pictures
  • Let them “read” to you
  • Let them reread the same book over and over again if they want
  • Leave the books out so they have easy access to them throughout the day

The books my own toddler LOVES

This is a list of my own toddler’s favorite books. He picks these ones out to read most nights. He will also bring them to me to read throughout the day.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

2. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

3. The Going to Bed Book

4. But Not the Hippopotamus

5. Horns to Toes and in Between

6. Goodnight Moon

7. Peek-a-Baby

8. Bright Baby Touch and Feel Set: Shapes, Numbers, Colors, Words

9. First 100 Words

10. My Book of Counting

Conclusion on the best books for toddlers

So those are my tips on how to pick books that help support your toddler’s growing vocabulary. Plus 10+ books that my own toddler recommends. Ya know… if 2 year olds were capable of recommending books lol.

I would love to hear some of the books that your family enjoys as well. Comment below or email me at

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The Best Books for Your Toddler's Language Development

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