At two to three years old, children have a longer attention span and a greater appreciation for detailed illustrations. There are so many wonderful books for this age!
Some of my favorite authors to begin to explore with 2 to 3 year olds include Shirley Hughes, Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, Jan Brett, and Robert McCloskey.
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Giving is a wonderful story about all the different meanings of “giving.” Described by a little girl and illustrated by the ever-charming Shirley Hughes.
Themes: giving, thankfulness, sharing
Blueberries for Sal is possibly my favorite book for two year olds. Little Sal and little bear learn that they should stay close to their mommies, even if yummy berries are tempting!
Themes: obedience, courage
Baby’s Boat is a luminous bedtime story we love describing a dream voyage on a moon-boat.
Themes: bedtime, poetic language
Little Donkey Close Your Eyes is by the great Margaret Wise Brown. Animals around the world settle down for bed in their own ways as their mothers urge them to close their eyes.
Themes: bedtime, animals, mothers
A Home in the Barn is another favorite by Margaret Wise Brown with lovely illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney. This book describes the coming of winter and how various farm animals prepare for the cold and wind.
Themes: winter, opposites, onomatopoeia
Peter finds treasures on his walk, but has no pockets to put them in! Mommy saves the day by sewing new ones on in Peter’s Pockets
Themes: sharing, creativity
Hush Little Baby is a nature-focused variation on the traditional rhyme, and is the version we sing in our house.
Themes: mother love, enjoying nature
When the Rooster Crowed is a toddler favorite about the farm animals trying to wake up the sleepy farmer.
Themes: persistence, sloth, patience
Shirley Hughes’ Alfie’s Feet is a simple but beloved story in which Alfie gets new boots and solves the mystery of why they feel funny.
Themes: growing, calmly solving problems, enjoying the outdoors
Another popular Alfie story, Alfie Gets in First, is a cautionary tale warning children against locking doors. But don’t worry it has a happy ending!
Themes: obedience, staying calm in an emergency
Little Lamb to the Rescue, one of the most beautiful picture books we own, is the story of a little lamb helping an even littler bird.
Themes: helping, friendship
In Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider: A Lift-the-Flap Book (The World of Eric Carle), the spider works despite all distracions to build a beautiful web. Lift the flaps on each page are fun for little ones.
Themes: industriousness, perseverance
Little Baby Buttercup is a charming recounting by a loving mother of her day with her little girl. This sweet book is a must read to your little girl!
Themes: a mother’s love for her child
Crocodaddy is one for the daddies and sons! A little boy and his father play at a pond, using their imaginations to make an enjoyable day even funner.
Themes: using your imagination, daddy-son bonding
In Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear, Jesse Bear, a very active little bear, learns about all the times one shouldn’t get wet, and finally when one should!
Themes: obedience, patience
Jan Brett’s illustrations in The Hat are, as always, worthy of lengthy study. In this story Hedgehog struggles to get untangled from a stocking, and Lisa tries to find her missing clothes.
Themes: perseverance, being kind to others
Little Mommy is a good old story of a little girl caring for her dolls. It’s sure to delight any little mommy!
Another good old story, The curious little Kitten details the adventure of a very curious little kitten! It is a good cautionary tale to show the dangers of too much curiosity.
Themes: curiosity, persistence
Is Your Mama a Llama? is a funny story that connects animal mamas and babies together. I think Steven Kellog’s trademark illustrations work perfectly with this story.
Once Upon a Cloud is a modern tale with illustrations to delight little princesses and a fanciful story of a little girl going on a magic carpet ride to find the perfect gift for her mother.
Little Mouse and the Big Cupcake is a delectable, gentle story about a little mouse trying to get a huge cupcake home, with some help from his hungry friends.
Themes: sharing, generosity
Illustrated by the marvellous Hilda Van Stockum, Pamela Walks the Dog is a hilarious little book about Pamela’s lengthy preparations to take her non-existent dog for a walk.
“So she took her little sister instead.”
Simple stories about Poppy and Sam are always a hit with two year olds. In Complete Book of Farmyard Tales, Poppy and Sam find lost animals, discover kittens, and help rescue the tractor.
Sylvia Long’s Big Book for Small Children is a charmingly illustrated collection of nursery rhymes, simple fairy tales, lullabies, and more.
Elsa Minarik’s Little Bear books are intended for beginning readers, but toddlers are entranced by these stories that celebrate the joy of being with family and friends!
A Horse Named Jack is our favorite rhyming and counting book for toddlers. Enjoy Jack’s escapades and learn to count to ten!
But don’t stop here! There’s so many more books!
Need a bedtime story?
Look at my list of Sleepy Bedtime Stories for Little Ones.
Have a budding animal lover?
Check out my list of The Best Farm Animal Picture Books!
Have a new baby on the way?
Check out my list Good Books for… Preparing Catholic Kids for a New Baby!