When my son (Raisin) was 2, I began a personal project or challenge to read 1000 different books with him before he entered kindergarten. (At that point, I had no intention of homeschooling.) Together, we did it.

There were so many benefits of our marathon reading times together. We got in the habit of choosing unknown books from the library shelves. Raisin loved recognizing previous favorites. He loved our cuddle times on the couch when we’d sit and read the piles of books we got from the library. He loved sitting and “reading” books by himself. We were always surrounded by books. He was exposed to all different kinds of facts and imaginary worlds. It was delightful and mind-expanding..

My toddler loves these favorite books!

By the time we finished reading his 1000 books, Raisin had learned to read. I am certain that the daily habits we created contributed to his learning. But beyond that benefit, I feel reading 1000 different books together gave him a love of learning that will last his entire life.

Next month, my daughter Strawberry will turn two. Although I’ve certainly been reading to her all the time already, I plan begin keeping a list once again. I have no doubt it will once again be a great experience!

As I pondered what we read thus far, I’ve thought I’d share a list with you of some of our favorite picture books to date.

Which picture books would you suggest for a toddler? What books should I make sure to embrace in the next months as we begin our 1000 different books project?

  1. Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. This is the perfect bedtime book. We read it most nights, and then we read it again.
  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Eric Carle’s classic book lets us explore foods, days of the week, and counting, as well as the natural magic of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
  3. Horns to Toes and In Between by Sandra Boynton. This is a silly book, but it teaches body parts and provides a lilting rhyme that is lots of fun as well.
  4. Freight Train by Donald Crews. This is a simple book, but it focuses not only on colors but the fascinting topic of trains. My daughter is not as obsessed with trains as my son was, but somehow the topic never seems to leave favor among the children of our house.
  5. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. This book is a sweet story of two hares, a dad and a child. The two express love to one another as they prepare to tuck the littlest one in to bed for the night. My son spent months saying “I love you to the moon and back!” to me after we began reading this story. It is a special little loving treasure of a picture book!
  6. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. This book focuses on a lost little bird who needs to find his mother. As the bird wonders what his mother is like, he meets a cow, dog, a “snort,” and much more. Both of my kids love this one already.
  7. The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown. This book is about the animals on a farm. The rhymes and rhythm are soothing, and while the ending has a bedtime feel, I find we read it over and over again at any time of the day!
  8. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper; illustrated by Loren Long. I never liked the original of this book, but I love Long’s adapted and re-illustrated version. The big pages are delightfully colorful and fun, and the story is just the right length to draw the kids in. I love to rock in a rocking chair with this book, rocking faster as the “I Think I Can!” sentences get more intense. It’s a great reminder that “thinking” we can do something hard is the first hurdle to overcome!
  9. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Most parents encounter the “I don’t want to eat that” attitude from their kids every now and then. I grew up loving this rhythmic classic of Dr. Seuss, and the repetition and relatability of this book make it one I think even young toddlers can enjoy. It is a long, but since it is all repeated you may dare to skip ahead every now and then.
  10. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle. Repetition in this book is perfect for the young toddler. If you flip the pages ahead of the words, you can let your little on answer the questions. “I see a red bird!” What a perfect way to learn colors and develop strong pre-reading skills. It has a nice rhythm to it too.

So there you have it. It was painful to pull this list together because there are so very many perfect picture books for this age, and I’ve left a number of classics off the list. But these are the favorite rereads around here these days.

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  • I asked for picture book recommendations last week, as it feels like A is kind of past board books at this point. I’m a little scared and a little excited to explore the picture book section of the library!

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