Storytime Favorites: 12 Toddler-Approved Books

I’m an avid reader, and it’s extremely important to me that my children grow up to value books and reading as well. I have tried to nurture a love for reading in my son Jona since he was a baby, however, now that he’s at an age where he can sit through a story and not try to tear out or eat the pages, it’s become a much more enjoyable endeavor.

I love finding new books that engage and entertain Jona, who just turned 3, and I make frequent library visits to ensure that no one gets bored (and by no one, I mean me–he’d happily read the same books over and over and over). Here are a dozen picture books that have been huge hits with my toddler.

12 toddler approved books for story time.

{Lion Lessons by Jon Agee} In this story, a boy seeks to get his “lion diploma” from a professional lion. The lion takes him through the 7 steps of becoming a lion, but he’s not very impressed with his student’s abilities. However, when a dog threatens a nearby kitten, the boy’s inner lion is revealed and his teacher can’t help but award him his diploma.

{Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt} Zoey isn’t like the other chickens; she has dreams of going to space. And as her friend Sam the pig says, “Zoey always finds a way.” Somewhat reluctantly, and optimistically hoping there will be pie involved, Sam joins Zoey in her “outer space” adventure.

{Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman} A baby wolf shows up on the doorstep of a bunny family, and Mama and Papa bunny are thrilled with their new bundle of joy. Their daughter, Dot, has the opposite reaction, and warns them “He’s going to eat us all up!” every chance she gets. However, when Wolfie is in danger, Dot forgets her fears and steps up as his big sister.

{Dylan the Villian by K. G. Campbell} Dylan’s parents are pleasantly surprised when they happen to have a baby, and even more so when that baby turns out to be an adorable little super villain. They think he’s the best, scariest super villain around, but when Dylan goes to school, it turns out he has some evil competition to deal with.

{The Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently} Lou Pine is a scheming wolf who is determined to have himself a tasty lamb for supper. But Rambo the Ram is onto the wily wolf and his plans and is having none of it. Lou continues to plot, and his efforts continue to get hilariously spoiled.

{The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman} This is the classic story of the three little pigs, but reimagined with alligators in a Texas swamp. Instead of the Big Bad Wolf threatening to blow their houses down, it’s Big Bottomed Boar who taunts “I’ll wiggle my rump with a bump bump bump and smash your house!” But the gators manage to outsmart him, and he runs away with grill marks on his behind.

{Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin} You have to remember a few things if you’re going to host a party for dragons. One, they love tacos. Two, they hate spicy salsa. Three, if you accidentally give them spicy salsa, watch out!

{There Is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems} Elephant is shocked and not amused to find that birds are taking up residence on his head. Piggie, on the other hand, loves that a little family is being built on her friend. There are several in the Elephant and Piggie series, so if your child enjoys this one, be sure to check out the others!

{The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak} I saw this recommended so many times before I finally picked it up, and I’m so glad I finally did. This book may have no pictures, but who needs pictures when the person reading the book has to say silly, made-up words and goofy declarations? This book elicits some serious laughs every time we pick it up.

{This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris} A movie director attempts to document a moose in his natural habitat, but he gets much more than he bargained for when the moose insists he wants to be an astronaut. He’s joined by his grandmother who dreamed of being a lacrosse goalie, and a giraffe who wants to be a doctor.

{Press Here by Herve Tullet} This unique book encourages your child to be an active participant–pressing on dots, shaking the book, and even blowing on it to “help” change each picture.

{Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell} It’s bedtime and a well-meaning octopus helps his friend get ready for bed by giving him an egg-salad bath and a tuba blow-dry. Be prepared for lots of laughs and pleas for re-reads.

What are some of your family’s favorite books?

If you’d like to see more book picks for both mom and toddler, check out my monthly “In My Library Tote” post on my blog, Shea Lennon.

Shea lives in Olathe with her husband Aaron, children Jona and Violet, and their spoiled mutt Ellie. She’s a busy working mom who finds her balance in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes that her picky toddler won’t touch. At the end of a long day, you’ll either find her curled up on the couch with a good book, or busy writing posts for her life and style blog, Shea Lennon, where she hopes to inspire women to look good and live well on a budget. Whether she’s reading or blogging, she’ll likely be accompanied by a bowl of ice cream (the chocolatier, the better) or a glass of wine. And on a good night, both.