Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

25 Must-Have Books for Toddler Bookworms

Bookworm weighs in on must-have books for your children in Little Hearts’ How to Build a Home Library for Bookworms from Tots to Teens series. Check out 25 Must-Have Books for Baby Bookworms and 25 Must-Have Books for Preschool Bookworms, and watch for 25 Must-Have Books for Early Elementary Bookworms, 25 Must-Have Books for Tween Bookworms, 25 Must-Have Books for Teen Bookworms, and 25 Must-Have Books for Young Adult Bookworms in the coming weeks as well as literacy tips, book activities, and book nook ideas!



Are You My Mother? By P.D.Eastman (a Dr. Seuss Beginner Book)

One of my all-time favorite books for little ones. They love the ‘snort’ and ask me to read the ‘snort’ part over and over again every time they dig this treasured book out of their book basket!


Then the little bird saw a Big Thing. “Are you my mother?” said the little bird. The Big Thing said, “SNORT!” “Oh no!” said the little bird, “You are not my mother. You are a Snort!”…



On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

This is a sweet and beautifully illustrated book to read to your little ones to remind them that they are a special and wonderful gift, not only to you, but to the world!


So enchanted with you were the wind and the rain that they whispered the sound of your wonderful name. It sailed through the farmland, high on the breeze…



From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

I can do it! I can do it! That’s the toddler chant, and this whimsical book by Eric Carle captures that spirit beautifully as it encourages little ones to stomp, clap, and wiggle with gorillas, giraffes, and other creatures illustrated in Carle’s own unique style. Lots of fun!


I am a seal, and I can clap my hands. Can you do it? I am an elephant, and I can stomp my foot, can you do it?



Corduroy by Don Freeman

All of my children have fallen in love with charming, raggedy little Corduroy from the first time they ‘met’ him while cuddling up for storytime, and he remains a favorite to this day!


Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store. Day after day he waited with all the other animals and dolls for somebody to come along and take him home…



The Best Nest by P.D.Eastman

A bit of humor just the right size for a little one, a fun adventure, and an easy to follow storyline make this book a definite must-have for toddler bookworms!


Mr. Bird was happy. He was so happy he had to sing. This was Mr.Bird’s song: “I love my house. I love my nest. In all the world my nest is best!” Then Mrs. Bird came out of the house. “It’s NOT the best nest!” she said. “I’m tired of this old place…



The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

This book is as fun for mommies and daddies as it is for children because you can’t help giggling at the silly pout-pout fish while enjoying the rhythm of the lyrical and humorous story!


Deep in the ocean/Where the fish hang out/Lives a glum gloomy swimmer/With an ever-present pout./I’m a pout-pout fish/With a pout-pout face/So I spread the dreary wearies/All over the place…



I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

Rag-tag Little Critter is always getting into scrapes, and this day is no different as his curiosity gets him into trouble time and time again. Your little explorer will certainly relate to this funny little guy, and your heart will melt as you get a glimpse at the frustrations of life through the eyes of a small person in a big world.


I wanted to keep some frogs in the bathtub, but mom wouldn’t let me. I was so mad…I wanted to play hide-n-seek in the clean sheets, but grandma said, “No, you can’t.” I was just so mad…



He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson

Award-winning artist Kadir Nelson’s illustrations capture a multiethnic family and community from a child’s perspective in this visually engaging interpretation of the old spiritual, He’s got the Whole World in His Hands. Intermixed with the charming artistry are the deeply captivating and reassuring lyrics of this staple of American history that you will enjoy introducing to your little one in this unique storybook form.


He’s got the whole world in His hands/He’s got the whole world in His hands/He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands…



Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss

This is one of the best introductions to the alphabet available because, in addition to its uniquely Seussian illustrations, its trademark Seussical cadence engages little ones’ attention and brings them toddling back for more again and again!


Big A, little a, what begins with A? Aunt Annie’s Alligator A-a-a. Big B, little b, what begins with B? Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumble-bee…



The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

Every one of my six children have eagerly asked for this book to be read and reread to them during their early years, including my littlest who is a toddler now. In fact, I’ve had to buy new copies several times through the years to replace the ones that fell apart from overuse! This is a family favorite that I’ll be buying for my grandchildren, no doubt.


Listen, I have an idea. If you do not turn any pages, we will never get to the end of this book. And that is good because there is a MONSTER at the end of this book. So please do not turn the page…YOU TURNED THE PAGE! Maybe you do not understand…



Just For You by Mercer Mayer

Little Critter is the quintessential toddler in Just For You, stretching his wings and trying to conquer the monumental tasks of little-personhood such as eating a sandwich for lunch (minus the crusts, of course!), just for his mama.


I tried to take a nap just for you, but the bed was too bouncy. I tried not to splash in my bath just for you, but there was a storm…



The Moon by Eli A. Cantillion

This is always a bedtime favorite for my little ones. It’s a soft, fuzzy book with a gentle rhythm that gets them all ready for sleepy-time and sweet dreams.


When I am getting sleepy and snuggling in my bed, the moon is just rising to go to work instead. He winks at all the children and whispers them goodnight, them hums a gentle lullaby and switches on his light…



The 7 Days of Creation by Mindy MacDonald

This colorful board book with its cut-outs, raised trees and butterflies, and sing-song rhyming verses is one of my little ones’ most frequently requested books!


God made all that you can see, mountains, rivers, and every tree. Every person in every land-He made us all with His own hand…



Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

If you’ve ever had a determined child reason with you using their own unique perception of what ‘reasonable’ entails, you’ll find this book as humorous as your little one will!


Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play ‘Drive the bus’! I’ll go first! C’mon, just once around the block! I’ll be your best friend…



We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

The beauty of this book is the fun use of onomatopoeias that every little one will enjoy saying along with you as you read this to them again and again and again!


We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Oh-oh! Grass! Long, wavy grass. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy…



Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

In this sweet, lyrical story a little llama struggles with bedtime separation from his Mama llama until she comes and soothes his fears and helps him fall asleep. It’s charm is not only in its adorable illustrations, but in the reality of the bedtime struggles it depicts with gentle humor and empathy.


Llama llama red pajama reads a story with his mama. Mama kisses baby’s hair. Mama llama goes downstairs. Llama llama red pajama feels alone without his mama…



When My Baby Dreams by Adele Enersen

Mommies and Daddies will love this book as much as their little ones will with its whimsical photos of a sleeping baby traveling the world, sailing the seas, and resting among the moon and the stars in this unique and sweetly humorous first book from new mama, Adele Enersen.


When my baby dreams of traveling the world…she starts her journey on the back of an Indian elephant…




Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr.

This is a fun book my little ones enjoy ‘reading’ along with me. With its simple, rhythmic cadence and repetitious wording, it makes it easy for small children to memorize and feel like they are already successful readers!


Polar Bear, Polar Bear, what do you hear? I hear a lion roaring in my ear. Lion, Lion, what do you hear? I hear a hippopotamus snorting in my ear…



Classic Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne

While all of my children (and I!) love the Disney version of Pooh, the classic books and illustrations are treasures that every little one needs to be introduced to. There is just so much depth and richness of story and meticulous detail in the classic version that is lost in the glossy, albeit fun and adorable, Disney Pooh. Your little ones will love discovering new things about their favorite “silly old bear” in these re-released books!


Once upon a time, a very long time ago, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name Sanders. “What does ‘under the name’ mean?” asked Christopher Robin…



My First Batman Book (Touch and Feel Board Book) by David Katz

What could possibly be better for your little superhero than a lift-the-flap, touch-n-feel, interactive Batman board book? Not much! This little book is awesomely entertaining for little hands and a great introduction to the wonderful world of superheroes.


Batman and his pal Robin zoom away in the Batmobile to protect the people of Gotham city…



Pride & Prejudice: A Babylit Board Book by Jennifer Adams

With vintage-looking, Regency-inspired illustrations and a charm that honors Jane Austen’s lovely style of writing, this whimsical ‘counting’ board book introduces little people to the characters and setting in one of my all-time favorite books!


1 English village; 2 Rich gentlemen (Mr. Bingley & Mr. Darcy); 3 Houses (Longbourn, Netherfield & Pemberly)…



Jane Eyre: A Babylit Board Book by Jennifer Adams

While this is another ‘counting’ book, that’s secondary to its real purpose of introducing a new generation of readers to classic literature. I love the iconic references to items, quotes, and characters (always have had a crush on Mr. Rochester…sigh) found in Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre, in this unique little board book from Jennifer Adams.


1 Governess; 2 Trunks; 3 Candles (“It is always dangerous to keep a candle lit at night”)…



Painting with Picasso by Julie Merberg

This isn’t my favorite of the Mini Masters series, but it’s an interesting introduction to Picasso’s unique style and gives a good overview of his abstract paintings as well as his more realistic pieces accompanied by simple, rhythmic verses that your little ones will enjoy while being exposed to the work of a master!


An artist paints people in all different places and captures the feelings that show in their faces…



A Magical Day with Matisse by Julie Merberg

The fun and lively poetic quality of the verses in this Mini Master board book will keep your little one entranced as you share the lovely reproductions of Matisse’s work. One note, though, is that it does contain some of his non-anatomically detailed nudes (no clothes, but no body parts depicted, either), so be aware of that if it’s an issue for you.


Grab your hat! Come out and play where sailboats bob on a blueberry bay…



A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg

The light and airy poetry that accompanies this introduction to Monet truly honors the enchanting, dreamy quality of his work. Little ones will enjoy this magical journey through the countryside in this lovely marriage of art and verse!


Through a field of poppies, red and bright, past a flock of turkeys, feathery white…


Note: Many of the books in the 25 Must-Have Books for Baby Bookworms and the 25 Must-Have Books for Preschool Bookworms are great for toddlers, as well, and vice-versa. 🙂






And here are some simple and economical ideas for starting a home library for your little bookworm:









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Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality. Fairy Tales~The Lost Value of ‘Once upon a time…’

There is such a rush these days to get children sleeping through the night, weaned off the breast, eating solid foods, potty trained, reading independently, and on and on, that we seem to have lost the ability to simply enjoy life as it happens and let our children do the same. A Return to Childhood

On a Winnie the Pooh style ‘long explore’ my little Pooh Bear discovered the world in ways only a toddler can  in…The Many Adventures of My Little Pooh Bear

Successful reading means far more than possessing the ability to read. Engaging the hearts of students moves reading success beyond a life skill and turns it into a life style. And graphic novels are too powerful of a tool in our arsenal to be disregarded because of pride or prejudice. Raising Super Readers~The MARVELous Power of Comic Books!

Parenting choices strongly impact the level and type of attachment a child develops and, by extension, the development of a love of learning. A love of learning grows when it isn’t stifled by fear or stress or regimented by over-structuring or a focus on achievement or competition. Parents fostering a healthy attachment are thus also fostering a life-long love of learning in their children. Love, Play, Learn!

If You Give A Toddler A Book…

Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.

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