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16 Best Books for 2-Year-Olds

Got a toddler who loves books in your life? Here's a ton of titles that can't miss.

There is no tougher demographic to please than 2-year-olds. These toddlers love applesauce one day and throw it on the ground the next. When it comes to books, 2-year-olds can be just as finicky. But the right stories can transform your little maniac into a focused, curious, and joyful kid. When selecting books for your 2-year-old, the subject matter will get you in the door (animals, trains, trucks, dinosaurs), but it’s the substance that keeps them coming back. Look for books for 2-year-olds that have a lot of call-and-response (think, catchphrases), a wide range of performative emotions, and positive messages that pertain to their lives. Seem like a tall order? Don’t worry, we’ve put together the quintessential list of the best books for 2-year-olds. From classics to contemporary gems, these books are rich and artful, hold up after multiple readings, and are guaranteed to become household favorites.

Separation anxiety? Every toddler gets it. They sense that things are changing and that can be worrisome. This classic reassures your little primate that getting bigger is nothing to fear.

The first of a mega-successful series, Ian Falconer based the adorable title character on his niece. As your child grows with Olivia, see if they notice that with each subsequent book in the series, the author adds a new color to the illustrations.

Mickey helps the bakers bake a cake in the middle of the night. He falls into the cake batter! They put him in the oven! He escapes in a plane made of bread dough. Sensory, poetic, and whimsical, with just a touch of darkness, Maurice Sendak, author of 'Where the Wild Things Are' is a sure thing, every time.

First published in 1948, this classic is still baskets of fun for your toddler. While picking wild blueberries, a boy and a baby bear get mixed up with the wrong parents. This is one that lets your child’s imagination start doing some more of the work.

A lovely and positive book, vibrantly illustrated. This book shows children how gratifying kindness can be.

The monster isn't real? Or is it? A timeless testament to the power of imagination: A little mouse invents a monster to avoid being eaten, only to have to face the very creature it devised.

Mo Willems has so many great books for 2-year-olds and beyond that, it’s hard to select just one. But this story begins with an ordinary trip to the laundromat that turns into a thrilling adventure for your little one. Leave no bunny behind! Adorable and relatable.

For kids who love to say, 'Actually…' A hilarious story about a girl who insists she is actually a penguin despite the contrary opinions of everyone in her life. A book that affirms you can be whomever, or whatever you want.

Sticking with the self-affirmation theme, this is a story about a girl who knows what’s important. Rhyming text and wonderful illustrations make this silly yet serious book go down easy.

There’s something about a tower of multicolored hats, a tree full of naughty monkeys, and a temper tantrum–throwing salesman that speaks to the deepest part of our 2-year-olds. I guess that’s why this story has been holding their rapt attention for almost 80 years! Monkey business, literally.

There are an awful lot of books about trains for toddlers. And for good reason: Toddlers truly, madly, deeply love choo-choos. The bold, bright colors and shapes set this one apart as we journey with this train through cities and countrysides.

The main character in this book finds music in the everyday surroundings of her neighborhood. The elegant prose dances off the brightly colored pages. The beginning of music education.

Ezra Jack Keats was an innovator of illustration and one of the first children’s book authors to set his stories in urban settings. 'The Snowy Day' is the most well-known book by a very prolific writer. Another classic and a must-have. Totally mesmerizing.

A very wise panda! Acclaimed illustrator Jon Muth transforms complicated life lessons into easily digestible stories for your young one. When Stillwater the panda moves into the neighborhood, he tells the kids ancient and captivating tales.

Short on prose, high on fun, this is the first and ultimate book of picture riddles. A literary game of hide-and-seek your ever-curious toddler won’t be able to get enough of.

Or can they? Silly yet inspiring, this modern classic shows your kids that they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to.

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