Here are ten or so picture books my two year-old daughter has checked out multiple times from the library and has asked me to read again and again during our bedtime stories. As a parent and a librarian, I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone reading with two-year-olds.
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won
Elephant wakes up grumpy but cheers up when he finds a present on his doorstep – a fabulous hat! He goes to find his friends and shares his hats to cheer them up as well. This really helped Ruby learn about emotions and she loves to act it out. Sometimes she still brings imaginary hats to cheer us up!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
One of my very favorites from my own childhood so I am so glad Ruby loves it too! A classic alphabet book with such good rhythm and sounds it begs to be read again and again.
I’m Fast by Kate McMullan
There is a whole series of these books about different vehicles and even some dinosaurs. We recently discovered they also made a TV show on Amazon Prime based on the books called the Stinky and Dirty Show. Ruby loves this one in the series about a train and the firetruck one “I’m Brave!” the best. This one has more of a plot line than some of the others – a train and a speedy red car race from California to Chicago.
Duckling Gets a Cookie? by Mo Willems
All the Pigeon books by Mo Willems are fabulous but this is the one requested by Ruby again and again. Pigeon is outraged that Duckling gets a cookie and he doesn’t and I know all kids this age can relate. Plus the ending is just so cute.
Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell
Firetrucks are second only to trains in Ruby’s world. This book does an excellent job describing what firefighters do and is simple enough that it works for toddlers or young preschoolers. Ruby absolutely loves it.
LMNO Peas by Liz Baker
Another alphabet book and also another book in a series. The little green peas go through the alphabet with different occupations and things they can be for each letter. There is a nice flow to it and the illustrations are a lot of fun to look at. If you can find the Weston Woods DVD with this story and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom I recommend it.
Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anne Dewdeney
I swear by Llama Llama. For read-out-louds to groups of preschoolers, there is no better author. Anne Dewdeney does two things extremely well. She is able to evoke the emotions of a young child and talk about and resolve difficult feelings by the end of the story, and she also has a beautiful way with rhyme and rhythm. I love all her books and Ruby is especially attached to this one about what happens when Llama forgets his stuffed animal on an overnight at his grandparent’s house.
Where’s Walrus and Penguin? by Steven Savage
I don’t often do wordless picture books but Ruby has a thing for penguins and she really, really likes this fun one by Steven Savage. Walrus and Penguin escape from the zoo and take on various disguises to hide from the zookeeper. This is perfect for the very young children who love to point out where the animals are hiding in plain sight. I also highly recommend Supertruck by the same author.
Don’t Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup
This is a really fun interactive picture book. Tiger is asleep and the other animals don’t want to wake her up but she is in their way. The reader has to help the other animals get past the tiger without waking her up. It is simple but very effective and has a great ending. This one is the winner of the 2017 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. (Hooray for Hat! won in 2016!)
Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet
In my opinion, this one should win the 2018 Firefly award. Tullet is best known for his interactive picture book Press Here that has been a bestseller and started a whole wave of interactive books. This is his latest and I have to say it is just brilliant. It is basically reading for pre-readers. Each of the dots in the book make a different sound so when you see the yellow dot for example, you say “Oh!” and it goes from there in different variations. Ruby was reading the book to me by the end of the week and we were both just having so much fun.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
It’s a classic for a reason. This book/chant is pure fun and begs to be read again and again. Another great one to act out as well. As soon as I get to the end Ruby says, “Again!” and we go right back to the beginning. Don’t miss it.