The Perfect Books for Babies and Toddlers

Reading time is more fun for children if you can find a book they can enjoy. Here are some age-appropriate suggestions you can look for at the bookstore.

Does your child enjoy reading time?

Most children love books because they can easily become the characters in their pretend play activities.

Reading is an amazing activity for babies and toddlers. It stimulates their creativity as well as cognitive and language development.

It’s never too early to introduce your baby to reading, as long as you find some age appropriate books.

Jaquelyn Muller is a child literacy advocate and author of two children’s books. She shares a few amazing age-appropriate book suggestions and some great tips on how to support reading in each development stage. Get a pen and paper and start making a list for next time you’re at the bookstore…!

Four – 12 months old

What do babies like at this age?

  • Being close to their parents or carers
  • Watching facial expressions and hearing their parents’ voices
  • Listening to sounds and music
  • Looking at books with baby faces and bright colours
  • Hearing the same stories and rhymes being repeated
  • Touching and tasting books How can you support reading at this age?
  • Smile and hold your baby close so they can see your face and the book
  • Copy the sounds your little one makes e.g. “da-da-da”
  • Help your baby bounce and move to the rhythm of your voice or music
  • Talk or sing about what you’re doing when you’re around the baby
  • Notice what your bub is looking at and name it
  • Share stories with your baby in the language you feel most comfortable with
  • Start a book at the front — you don’t have to finish it; a few pages is a great achievement!
  • Keep books within easy reach for babies
  • Repeat words from the book when playing with your baby (e.g. “Splish, splash, scrub-a-dub” when in the bath)
  • Make animal noises

Book suggestions:

  • Peepo Baby – Sebastien Braun
  • Where is Baby? – Sally Rippin
  • Tickle, Tickle – Helen Oxenbury
  • W is for Wombat. My First Australian Word Book – Bronwyn Bancroft
  • I Went Walking – Sue Machin & Julie Vivas

12 – 18 months old

What do babies like at this age?

  • Sitting close, seeing the book and your face
  • Looking at and listening to the world around them
  • Moving to the rhythm of stories, nursery rhymes and music
  • Touching objects with different textures (soft, smooth, prickly)
  • Hearing the same songs, books and stories over and over again
  • Feeling and holding the book and helping to turn the pages
  • Looking at books about family, food, animals and colours How can you support reading at this age?
  • Ensure your baby can see your face and the book you’re sharing
  • Play and laugh with your baby
  • Give them different textures to touch and talk about what they feel like
  • Sing songs that your baby can clap, dance and move to
  • Talk about what your child is doing or pointing to
  • Tell their favourite stories and rhymes over and over again
  • Name the pictures your little one touches or points to in the book
  • Keep books at home to share with your kids
  • Do actions to the story
  • Take your baby to the library to look at books and join in reading sessions and activities

Book suggestions:

  • Count My Kisses, Little One – Ruthie May & Tamsin Ainslie
  • Old MacDonald had a Farm – Mandy Foot
  • Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
  • Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell

18 – 36 months old

What do toddlers like at this age?

  • Pointing to and naming things they see
  • Reciting the same rhymes, songs and stories over and over again
  • Listening to songs and stories with his or her name in them
  • Filling in the words in songs and stories they know
  • Reading about animals and making animal noises
  • Choosing the book and helping to turn the pages
  • Talking with you about the games they are playing
  • How can you support reading at this age?
  • Talk to your toddler about what they are doing as they play
  • Help your child notice words, sounds and letters in everyday life (e.g. street signs, grocery packaging)
  • Sing simple songs together, make your own music and dance to the rhythm
  • Find words that rhyme in stories and song
  • Play and have fun — you don’t have to read the whole book
  • Encourage your toddler to turn the pages and talk about what he or she sees (e.g. “Show me the snake.”)
  • Share books, read-along storytelling apps and eBooks wherever you are
  • Carry books when you go out
  • Visit a library, borrow some books

Book suggestions:

Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
Elizabeth Rose on Parade – Jaquelyn Muller
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury
The Wheels on the Bus – Penny Dann

3 – 5 years old

What do toddlers like at this age?

  • Naming the things they know
  • Talking, singing and moving to music
  • Hearing words that rhyme
  • Making up their own stories and drawing the pictures
  • Listening to stories about themselves, families, friends and going to school
  • Reading alphabet and counting books
  • Helping to tell a story or song they know How can support you reading at this age?
  • Point out signs, grocery packaging and other words and pictures when you shop
  • Help your child to draw and talk about the drawings they make
  • Make up actions to go with the words of songs
  • As you read, run your finger under the words
  • Talk about the story and ask questions e.g. “What is the bird doing?”
  • Help your child find the first letter of their name in the book
  • Share eBooks and apps to help your child learn about sounds and letters in words
  • Have children see you read books you enjoy
  • Visit your local library regularly and borrow books

Book suggestions:

  • Can I Cuddle the Moon? – Kerry Brown & Lisa Stewart
  • I Love you 5 Lollipops – Jaquelyn Muller
  • Dig Dig Digging – Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe
  • K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo – Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, make sure you also check out these articles:

Share this resource

Become a Member

Playgroup NSW leads play-based programs and services for NSW families with children birth to school age, offering development, shared experiences, and family support, that results in active citizens and inclusive communities.