Readers Write

Favorite Books to Read With Young Children

by Naomi Krueger

I started stocking up on children’s books the day I found out I was pregnant with my son. I literally walked to a bookstore and began perusing the board books just minutes after getting the news! It was the obvious next step, right? As a children’s book editor and a lifelong book lover, I don’t believe one can ever have too many books, especially books for children. So of course I’m always delighted to buy new books for my now one-year-old and thrilled when he receives books as gifts from others. Reading together is not only fun, but it also helps his cognitive development.

Books help young children develop language and learn their colors and shapes, how to count, and how to identify animals. Books teach empathy and problem solving skills. They help foster active imaginations and prepare kids for various situations they will encounter out in the world as they grow.

For this Readers Write column, we asked readers what they look for in children’s books, why reading with young children matters to them, and to share their favorite books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Survey respondents said they look for high quality picture and board books with beautiful, engaging illustrations. The stories themselves must have strong word choices, poetic or rhythmic cadences, and entertaining or meaningful messages.

Favorite Baby Books, Books Make a Difference magazineA few reasons why reading with young children is important:

“I love books and I want to share that love with my kids. Books are windows to the world and I can introduce ideas and concepts to them that I can’t do in other ways.”—Rachel Z.

“Reading is something our family places a high value on—we want to build early literacy skills now in the hopes of helping our daughter become a lifelong reader!  We also like the connection that comes through our time reading together and the fun that she has learning and exploring new things.”—Lindsey M.

“Reading is an intimate experience that you share. To develop their imagination and language skills. To help prepare for rest. To teach values and concepts.” —Amy H.

The following are some of the books recommended by Books Make a Difference readers. Take this list with you on your next trip to your local bookstore or library to find the next great book for the little ones in your life. Happy reading!

Favorite Bedtime BooksThe Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Where Do Diggers Sleep At Night by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade

Goodnight Baseball by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Christina E. Forshay

The Goodnight Train by June Sobel, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer

The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

Llama Llama Nighty Night by Anna Dewdney

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul, illustrated by David Walker

I’ll See You in the Morning by Mike Jolley, illustrated by Mique Moriuchi

Favorite Colors or Shapes Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Little Yellow Bee: Lift-a-Flap Children’s Board Book by Ginger Swift, illustrated by Katya Longhi

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert

Elmer’s Colors by David Mckee

Little Green Peas by Keith Baker

Shapes (Picture This) by Judith Nouvion

Black on White by Tana Hoban

White on Black by Tana Hoban

Little Owl’s Colors by Divya Srinivasan

Favorite ABC and Counting Books

Cars and Trucks from A to Z by Richard Scarry

Roar: A Feel-and-fit Shapes Book of Dinosaur Counting by Stuart Lynch

Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book by Dr. Seuss

B is for Bulldozer by June Sobel, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Favorite Story Book

Corduroy by Don Freeman

The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

5-Minute Little Critter Stories by Mercer Mayer

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond

The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrate by Dan Hanna

Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein

The Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz, illustrated by James Marshall

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, illustrated by George Hauman and Doris Hauman

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton

Freight Train by Donald Crews

Where’s Spot by Eric Hill

Favorite Funny Book

The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA by Jimmy Fallon, illustrated by Miguel Ordóñez

Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw, illustrated by Margot Apple

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin

Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter

If You Give a Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff, Illustrated by Felicia Bond

Favorite Book to Give at Baby ShowersHow Kind by Mary Murphy

What Do Moms Do? by Amy Houts and Emily Bush, illustrated by Lisa Thiesing

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Little You by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett

You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton

Cedric and the Dragon by Elizabeth Raum, illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden

How Kind by Mary Murphy

Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman

Favorite Book About Another CultureUa Si, Ua Si!

My Big Book of Spanish Words by Rebecca Emberley

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Ua Si, Ua Si! by Mykou Thao

Lil Libros books by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein

Say Hello by Rachel Isadora

What are your favorite books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers? Let us know in the comments!

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