This is my list of the best books for kids ages 0-3. I’ve read these books to my own son and daughter. As you can see, there are tons of them. As I was compiling this list, the thing that struck me most is how MANY kids books are good. Anyway, I decided to make this list regardless, even if just to help me bring back memories when my kids are grown.
These are all affiliate links to Amazon, so if you end up buying a book, I’ll get a small credit from Amazon (thanks!).
Board Books (best for babies and toddlers)
A simple touch-and-feel book that the babies seem to love.
A rhythmic cavalcade of monkeys. Apparently the board book is shorter than the hardcover version, so if you’re buying this book because you rememer it as a kid, you might want to check out the hardcover.
Different animal moms hugging their kids. Short and adorable.
Different animal dads kissing their kids. Short and adorable.
Cute story of daughter pushing her mother’s limits and wondering about the depths of love. Cool Alaskan Inuit (I think) imagery.
CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP. The classic by Eric Carle.
Another in the Eric Carle canon. Good way for kids to learn animal sounds.
A lonely firefly checks out various lights in search of his friends.
Lift-the-flap learn-the-body-parts goodness.
A monkey goes in search of his mother, with the help of some elephants and other African animals.
Another lift-the-flap take on body parts.
For the love of trains.
Lyrical romp through a fantastical berry-themed world.
What DO snowmen do at night?
A-Z with Hawaiian theme.
The classic nursery rhyme is expanded into additional verses and fun illustrations.
Explains to kids that parents love you all the time, even if they can’t pay attention to you right this second.
A couting book with a penguin theme.
A couting book with cute ducks on the pond.
I’m not sure what it is about the Maisy books, but the kids seem to love them.
The classic. Goodnight.
An odd book where the little fur creature goes on an adventure in the woods, before returning home for a bath.
A counting book but also a cute story of a daughter going to bed.
Each page is devoted to one color, and there are many images for kids to pick out.
A lift the flap book that my kids seem to love.
This book shows kids the correlation between different emotions and the faces we might make to go along with them.
Very simple book that’s a takeoff on playing peek-a-boo.
Dogs scramble around in packs, on their way to a party. We have the board book version. I understand some parts were taken out when it was converted from hardcover, so if you remember it from childhood, look for the hardcover.
Wonderful book with excellent illustrations, a good storyline, and very few words.
A child plants a carrot seed, and has faith that the seed will grow.
A counting book with kisses. Cute.
Little Nutbrown Hare tries to describe just how much he loves his parent, Big Nutbrown Hare. Cute.
Dinosaur searches for his blanket. A touch-and-feel book.
A counting book, with dogs.
A rhyming song book with a mother dog telling her child how much she loves him.
A counting book with hippos.
Belly button poetry, with hippos.
Three stories of little babies wanting more tickles, more chasing, and more sleeping.
Kids learn body parts by mimicking animals.
Non-Board Books (for when they stop tearing the pages…)
No words. A truck brings some packages from one depot to another.
This book about a boy learning to use the potty resonated with both my kids (boy and girl).
Boy learns about the potty and makes mistakes. Mother is put-upon changing diapers. Both my boy and girl liked this one.
A wordless book. A glass of spilled milk causes a surprising chain reaction.
More potty goodness.
Oddly creepy story of a boy home sick.
Beautiful non-religious creation story.
It’s a big world out there for a teddy bear.
Daughter thinks her Dad is great, though he’s actually amusingly bumbling.
A delightful book about finding your own path in life.
Animals discover a boy’s lost mitten and start crowding into it.
A sing-song-y book set on a farm.
Fun pop-up book. It starts with a frog, who gets eaten by a vulture, who gets eaten by a gorilla I think, and so on. Visceral for the kids — by flapping the pages you make the animals CHOMP CHOMP — yet fun. It’s also fun to say the author’s name in a strong Eastern European accent: JAN PIENKOWSKI. Like all pop-up books, vulnerable to a baby tearing the pages by accident.
Another pop-up book from Jan Pieńkowski. Different monsters doing different things.
Set on a farm, Daisy and Pip run around looking for the mythical Beastie.
The baby sneaks out of the house and goes on a crazy adventure through town with the family cat and dog. Great illustrations and fun rhymes keep it moving along..
A frog’s-eye view of Monet and his water lily paintings.
A baby tries to get the attention of his older brother. Very few words in this book.
If you give a mouse a cookie, madcap adventures will ensure.
If you give a moose a muffin, even more madcap adventures will ensue.
Just how long IS the tail of a Zong?
Cautionary tale about overconsumption and environmental impact.
The ups and downs on the road of life.
One dedicated elephant.
A pop-up book with letters A-Z, one on each page. Not a kids book per se, but my son (who loves letters) really enjoyed this.
The Van Fleet canon has cute animals and things to touch or do on each page.
A dreamlike book about a boy who helps some tiny bakers bake cake during the night.
The pigeon series. What a character, that pigeon. Humorous for adults and kids alike.
The Knuffle Bunny series. Trixie grows up, having adventures with her stuffed bunny along the way.
A dog and frog make friends. A touching story about life, death and friendship.
A story about a girl in Nepal who wanted to be a Sherpa, even though girls were at one time not allowed to be Sherpas. A tale of bravery, danger, and family.
A bird and his wife go looking for a new nest. I used to love this one as a kid and I’m glad my children are into it. Old-fashioned gender stereotypes come into play a tiny bit, but not enough to take it off my recommended list…
Human mother and child meet bear mother and child while they are all out picking blueberries.
Ducklings make their way through the city, with the help of some humans.
Funny songs and general Boynton mayhem.
A sad book about a tree giving everything it can to a young man who isn’t very appreciative.
Funny, ludicrous poems from Shel Silverstein.
This was a great gift. It’s a pop-up book, but all focused around someone getting their taxi ready for their shift. Each page shows a separate aspect of the driver getting ready for the day, such as checking the tire pressure, making sure the meter is working, etc. Each page is a fun hands-on experience for kids.
This was one from my childhood. Sammy the Seal lives at the zoo, but has always wanted to venture out into the world. One day, he does.
Another great gift. Beautiful, somewhat psychedelic illustrations of a magical world with monkeys and bears and flying sea creatures. Wordless. Both my kids loved this.
A mouse and a bird go bonkers inside someone’s house, making a mess.
A bizarre, fun book. Miss Collywobbles’ pet frog protects her from terrible creatures emerging from the forest.
George makes his chores more fun by imagining he’s shrunk to about the size of a mouse.
Pete’s having a bad day, so his parents cheer him up by pretending to make him into a pizza.
Dog breaks the rules by visiting boy in school. Cute.
A raccoon on his way to school for the first time is comforted by his mother’s “kissing hand” technique.
A chain reaction book. Everyone in the house takes a nap, until a wakeful flea disrupts things.
Crocodile in New York City navigates awkward social situation involving neighbor’s cat.
Simple stories and simple words.
Classic book featuring raw imgaination.
Everything gets a bit crazy when the relatives come.
Wodney has a speech impediment and is shy as a result, but things turn around when he inadvertently confronts Camilla Capybara.
The title pretty much says it all. Lovely book.
Owl lives at home by himself yet still manages to get himself into a tizzy with frequency. Was a favorite of mine from childhood, too.
Frog and Toad navigate the ups and downs of everyday life. A classic series that I loved as a child, too.
Uncle Elephant takes care of his young nephew.
Ming Lo and his wife consult a wise man about how to move the mountain away from their house.
Mouse outwits a weasel through storytelling.
Grasshopper encounters different creatures in his travels
Cousin Joan makes up a tale about alligators.
A small book with a different poem for each month.
I don’t care.
Johnny likes to be by himself, but he keeps being disturbed by animals coming into his house.
A boy’s birthday present is that he gets to adopt a cat from the shelter. We watch as the boy chooses his cat and decides which one to take respnsibility for.
The Berenstain Bears books are a great way to teach your kids how to handle different childhood situations. These are a few we’ve read, and there are many more.
An old woman receives a snake as a pet. She’s scared at first, but eventually takes the snake into her life. The snake turns out to be loyal and brave.