The Perfect Summer Reading List for Toddlers

Toddlers are driven by an insatiable curiosity that urges them to explore and test everything around them. Picking the perfect reading list for your toddler is no easy feat.  They can make a mess of things and exhaust their parents in no time. But believe it or not, toddlers do slow down and enjoy a significant amount of quiet time. With this in mind, make the most of your toddler’s “down time” this summer with this list of engaging, age-appropriate books.

The Perfect Summer Reading List for Toddlers

The Perfect Summer Reading List for Toddlers

Benefits of Summer Reading with Toddlers

Numerous studies have shown that books and stories positively impact emergent language skills. By sharing books with your toddler, you’re establishing the groundwork for future independent reading. In addition, your toddler will appreciate the attention she receives when you’re cozy up and reading together.

Other benefits include:

  • Letter and word recognition
  • Learning the alphabet
  • Learning sounds
  • Building vocabulary
  • Deepening comprehension skills
  • Expanding a knowledge base

A quick tip

Toddlers often have short attention spans. For the youngest readers look for books with short, simple texts and engaging colors and pictures. Search for books that focus on her favorite things and make a point to read often. Before long, books and reading time will be a highly anticipated (and expected) part of every day!

Recommended Titles for Your Toddler Reading List

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

Emily Winfield Martin’s catchy rhymes and lovely illustrations are a joy to experience again and again. In The Wonderful Things You Will Be (Random House Books for Young Readers) the sky is the limit; children are encouraged to dream of a successful and safe future – however they wish it to be. The book’s message of acceptance, understanding and unyielding love is timeless. It’s written for children ages 3 and up.

Calm-Down Time

No one can throw a tantrum quite like a toddler. This book helps children recognize strong emotions and offers simple and safe ways to express these feelings that are often overwhelming for both the child and caregiver. There are tips on how to put feelings into words and how to self-soothe. The text and drawings are engaging and appropriate for kids up to 3 years old.

Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums: And How She Outgrew Them

Jilly the Kangaroo can’t handle frustration and other negative feelings. Luckily, she has loving parents who help her manage her big emotions. With patience and kindness (and lots of hugs), Jilly learns to recognize what triggers her meltdowns and how to work through them. Soon she’s equipped not only with coping tools, but the knowledge that whenever she feels overcome, she can speak up and ask for help.

This is ideal for children in preschool up to 3rd grade.

Waiting Is Not Easy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

The combination of lovable characters and engaging, easy-to-read dialogue make this a sure hit for 3rd grade boys and girls. Gerald the elephant and his best friend Piggie struggle together with the concepts of waiting, patience and secret keeping. Like other titles in the series, this simple story celebrates the intricacies of friendship and the joys of sharing adventures with the ones we love. We predict that once you experience one Elephant and Piggie book, you’ll be back for more!

The Mad Sad Happy Book: Emotional Literacy for Preschoolers

Written by George Sachs, a child psychologist in Manhattan, this book is all about emotions. Sachs believes that if children understand their emotions from an early age they will have a better chance of having balanced and positive life experiences. In his 30-page book, the author shows us ways to improve a child’s emotional literacy.

The Snail and the Whale

Through her trademark poetic language, author Julia Donaldson delights with this story of a little snail and a giant whale exploring lands far and wide. The two friends enjoy many adventures until the whale swims too close to the land and is beached on the shore. The snail must think fast and be as brave as he’s ever been in order to save his dear friend. This is a heart-warming tale of an unlikely friendship that also serves as a reminder to respect our environment and all of its marvelous creatures, big and small.

The Snail and the Whale (Puffin Books) is 32 pages and written for children ages 2 – 7.

The Monster at the End of This Book

This book, for pre-schoolers to 2nd graders, doesn’t need much to recommend it – it’s simply a classic! Written by Jon Stone, the very first head writer of the beloved Sesame Street TV show, and illustrated by Michael Smollin, The Monster at the End of this Book stars everyone’s favorite blue monster, Grover.

Hands Are Not For Hitting

This 24-page board book, part of a “Best Behavior Series,” explains in an easy to understand manner that it’s never OK to use our hands to hit another person. With the help of bright illustrations, kids learn that our hands are useful for so many positive things like helping and taking care of our loved ones. There are tips for caregivers who are looking for clever ways to teach very young children (ages 1 to 4) about emotions and how our every action has a consequence. This is an important addition to any child’s library.


Although not every child will be born a bookworm, studies have shown that kids who are exposed to books early and often have a better chance of becoming enthusiastic readers. No matter what your youngster is into – whether it’s dragons, baseball, shipwrecks or bugs – you can bet there’s a storybook out there that you can read together. What’s more, these days books offer different textures, sounds and interactive activities to hold your little one’s attention and encourage them to revisit the books again and again.

Introducing books at a young age not only builds literacy skills, but it also creates memories for your child and you. Favorite books will be remembered long into adulthood and passed along through generations to come.


Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not chained to her computer, she likes to explore the city with her boyfriend, kids and dog. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry, and you can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

The Perfect Summer Reading List for Toddlers