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The best books for toddlers

The best children's stories have an eternal shelf life. Here are 20 classics that are sure to create lasting memories.

By Stephanie Simpson Mclellan
The best books for toddlers

The best books for toddlers

Start early

Instill a love for reading in your kids with these beloved tales.

The best books for toddlersPhoto: RichVintage/iStockphoto

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

By Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, 1967

A page-turner that ignites in readers the desire to glimpse a blue horse, a purple cat and the next brilliant thing that follows.


Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

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Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?

By Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth, 1992

Warm watercolours capture Big Bear’s tender attempts to banish all dark from the cave so Little Bear feels safe enough to sleep.

Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

The Carrot Seed

By Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Crockett Johnson, 1945

Despite warnings that the seed he planted will not grow, a little boy’s patience and self-confidence are rewarded with a carrot as big as himself.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

The Cat in the Hat

By Dr. Seuss, 1957.

Written in response to an article in Life magazine that lamented the boring reading lessons in schools, The Cat in the Hat employed 223 words from primary reading lists and single-handedly killed “Dick and Jane.”
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

By Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, 1989

Infectious, playful rhyme sends the alphabet on a romp up a coconut tree.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

Curious George

By Margret and H.A. Rey, 1941.

George embodies the irresistibly lovable little monkey in all small children.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

Goodnight Moon

By Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, 1947

Wise Brown’s quiet poetry has lulled generations of children to sleep and enticed millions of families to hunt for the mouse on every page.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

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Grumpy Bird

By: Jeremy Tankard, 2007

When Bird wakes up, he’s too grumpy to eat, play or even fly, and instead starts stomping through the forest on foot. But his oblivious, happy-go-lucky friends stick to him like glue, turning Bird’s walk into an inadvertent game of follow-the-leader that makes Bird even grumpier.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

Guess How Much I Love You?

By Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, 1995.

It is impossible not to sigh and aw-w-w over the sweet illustrations of Little Nutbrown Hare in various stages of sleep and play as he and Big Nutbrown Hare describe their love for each other.


Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

Love You Forever

By Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw, 1986.

This sentimental favourite showcases a mother’s undying devotion to her child, which eventually comes full circle.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

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Maisy the Mouse series

By Lucy Cousins, 1990.

According to Cousins, Maisy “drew herself” one day when Cousins was doodling, and has since become one of the best-loved characters in children’s books.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

Maisy the mouse cover artPhoto: Amazon

Make Way for Ducklings

By Robert McCloskey, 1941.

A delightful story about a duck family in Boston’s Public Garden that crosses a heavily trafficked street with the help of the police department.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

Max and Ruby series

By Rosemary Wells, 1979.

The illustrations of curious three-year-old Max and bossy seven-year-old Ruby incite as much fun as the words.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

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More More More, Said the Baby

By Vera B. Williams, 1990.

Three stories of crazy-for-you affection, starting with Little Guy being chased by his daddy, who catches Little Guy and throws him high, swings him all around and gives him a kiss right in the middle of his belly button. “More,” laughs Little Guy. “More. More. More.” The book explodes with colour, each word an assortment of hues, each baby uniquely adored.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

Night Cars

By Teddy Jam (Matt Cohen) and illustrated by Eric Beddows, 1988.

Lyrical prose and rich illustrations portray a tired father’s imaginative explanations of the nighttime noises outside the window. Billed as the Canadian Goodnight Moon.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

The Real Mother Goose

Illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright, 1916.

Despite the plentiful variety of nursery rhyme editions that surface regularly, it is this version, with its beloved illustrations, that is still going strong after nearly a century.

Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

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Sam Who Never Forgets

By Eve Rice, 1977.

While he has lovingly tended to all the other animals, it appears that Sam the zookeeper has forgotten to feed Elephant. Will Elephant have his hay?
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

By Beatrix Potter, 1902.

This quintessential cautionary tale, with its intimate, conversational tone, humorously warns young readers about the perils of misbehaving.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

By Eric Carle, 1969.

Layered under the imaginative die-cut pages are lessons about counting, the days of the week and the magic of metamorphosis.
Where to Buy? Indigo.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Indigo

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Where’s Spot?

By Eric Hill, 1980.

The first lift-the-flap children’s book has toddlers readily identifying with the rascal puppy Spot, who is hiding from his mother, Sally.
Where to Buy? Amazon.ca

The best books for toddlersPhoto: Amazon

More great books for kids!

The best books for toddlersPhoto: MariaPavlova/iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Feb 11, 2013

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