Jen’s TOP 22 Favorite Books…. Toddlers to age 5 – A Speech-Language Pathologist Perspective

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I said in my Holiday Buying Guide 2017 post that I would share my book recommendations….so here they are! I have many many favorite books, I may have a book problem. BUT, I am sure many of you do too! With the holiday season upon us, don’t forget to add a book or two to your gift list! When looking for books for children I immediately am drawn to the art but I am also drawn to how the book can help me target goals I am trying to accomplish in speech, language, attention and literacy.  Here are just a few of my favorite books… from a speech-language pathologist perspective. (For you Amazon shoppers, I linked the photos for quick purchase).


  • Many times parents are concerned because young children are not interested in books or will not sit for a book. Here are a few tips that will help!
    • Choose books that are interactive – flap books, sensory books (touchy feely books), pop books, shine-a-light books…make easy activities that go along with your books (e.g., matching animals to pictures), acting out animals or
    • Use a visual schedule so the child will understand what comes next (that the book time will end) when the book is complete. Read more about how to help children see what comes next.
    • Use words such as “two more pages then done” or “when we do two more pages then we will get a snack“. (Check out my previous post on using when-then and other parent power words)
    • Don’t fuss over the child listening to the words written on the pages, shorten the story or just name pictures. Many times you get more out of a book by NOT reading word for word what is written. Be flexible… our goal is to increase attention to task and extend the amount of time the child will engage in a book.
    • Use voices (loud, soft, high, low), animal and environmental sounds…be excited, you will get more engagement and attention when you yourself are acting like a kid!
    • Try singing the books or make-up songs to the pictures….hate how you sound, me too! Kids don’t care….sing people sing!
    • YES read the saaaaaaaame book over and over and over and over. Repetition is great for early literacy and children will be able to “read” the books themselves before you know it!

1. Dear Zoo – I.LOVE.THIS.BOOK. This repetitive, interactive flap book brings the zoo home. Large crates arrive to be sent back to the zoo because the animals are too………….. With fun simple art, great descriptives Dear Zoo will help keep children engaged. You can Pinterest fun activities to go along with this board book. Ages 1 and up or where developmentally appropriate. This is a must have for all toddler book collections.

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2. Open the Barn Door – This book is also a MUST have for your toddler library. This darling repetitive flap book is great to work on animal sounds, answering simple WHO questions, naming animals and talking about what animals are doing or where they live. Ages 1 and up, where developmentally appropriate.

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3. If You See a Kitten – If you have a young child that you are working on vocalizing, using simple sounds, vowels or imitation you need this book. If You See a Kitten is a great staple for young children. The repetition and prediction in this book is fabulous! The art is darling and children fall in love with the animals.

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4. Who Will Tuck Me in Tonight – Ages 2 and up. This book has been a bedtime favorite at our house for years. Poor little lamb cannot find his mom to tuck him in and all the farm animals try to help but no one can do it like mom. This book is a great book to do different voices! #bedtimefavorite

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5. The Gruffalo – Ages 2 and up. Another home favorite that has quickly become the clinic favorite. This clever little mouse finds ways to outsmart all of the forest animals including THE GRUFFALO… does he exist? You can follow-up with the 30 minute retell of the book on Netflix!

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6. Dragons Love Tacos– Ages 2-3 and up. These dragons are CRAZY for tacos. This silly book that takes you back in time to save tacos is silly and fun. This book would be a full follow-up to a family taco night! It will give you a lot to taco ’bout! #speechhumor

7. My Truck is Stuck– Ages 2 and up…a must have for the truck, car, bus lover.  This book has great rhyming and repetition and wonderful SOUNDS. Get your vocal cords ready for BEEPS, HONKS, and HEEEELPS! We love acting this book out with small vehicles during therapy. #truckcarbuslovers

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8. There’s a Monster in Your Book– I use this book in speech therapy, stole it from my daughter’s bookshelf at home. KIDS LOVE MONSTERS… Ages 2-6 will flip for this monster book especially if you are a little crazy like me. Check out how I used this book with the Bjorem Speech Sound Cues to target sounds and sound combinations in this video!

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9. Bear and the Piano– Ages 3 and up…from the forest to the city, the bear goes on a musical journey. For the music lover this children’s book is beautifully illustrated and has a few lessons as well. This book is a good re-tell and prediction.

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10. Shine-A-Light Books– (link below photos) What child does not love a flashlight! Grab a flashlight, make a tent in the living room or turn down the lights for these shadow reading books. These are wonderful interactive light books where creatures appear only with the light. Your kids will love them. #bedtimebook #takeitcamping

Secrets of the Seashore.     Secrets of Winter.

11. Poke-A-Dot Books- POP POP POP you just cannot stop! These pop books keep kids engaged and interested! We use these books at Children’s Therapy Services to work on attention to task, counting, receptive identification of animals and objects, animal sounds, we incorporate the speech sound cues when working on sound development and motor planning. The poking is great to work on index finger isolation too!

Old McDonald.   Goodnight Animals.   

12. Bad Kitty: A Bad Kitty Christmas (BAD KITTY SERIES) – My first grader recently brought this Bad Kitty book home from school. We had so much fun reading it together. This Kitty is BAD but so much fun and he will keep you and your child laughing. This is a great holiday season read.

13. Touchy Feely BooksAges 1-4 years (links below photos) Usborne has a ton of these fun That’s not my….. books. The are is simple and cute and the sensory components help keep young children engaged. #toddlerlibrary

That’s not my tractor.      That’s not my goat.      That’s not my unicorn. 

14. Mama Do You Love Me – Toddlers and up. This book is about a little Inuit girl who thinks of imaginative scenarios to test the strength of her mother’s love. Her mother reassures her there are no limits to a mother’s love for her child.

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15. Lately Lily – Curious Lily travels everywhere and brings adventures right into your home. What method of transportation will she use and what will Lily discover next. This book would be a great one to add to your travel bag for your next family trip! #travelbook

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16. Dream Animals – A beautifully illustrated bedtime journey is full of magical moments that young children will adore. The animals are sweet and it will take you and your child into a world of whimsical imagination! Beautiful first book for toddlers. #bedtimefavorite

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17. Time for Bed- Toddlers and up. This sweet nighttime read was always a staple in our house. Rhyming, rhythmic, repetitive and predictable. You will love this sweet book and beautiful illustrations. Here is a video link on Youtube to the book! #toddlerlibrary

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18. Time for Bed – Pull Tab Book – toddlers and up – another interactive book to keep little ones engaged. We all have experienced the stalling technique at bedtime. In this pull-tab book, little animals find ways to put off bedtime. This cute relatable bedtime book is another one to have in your toddler library! #bedtimefavorite

19. Itsy Bitsy Spider – Toddler and up- The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the kitchen wall, swoosh went the fan and made the spider fall….. this cute rendition of itsy bitsy spider will expand your thinking from the traditional song. Spider meets a fan, a cat, a mouse a rocking chair and a maple tree. Great for working on singing along, labeling and vocabulary. With rhyming and the ability to sing and do motions, this is another book to keep your little ones engaged! #singalong

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20. Dream Snow Toddler and up – The old farmer slumbers in his chair and when he wakes-up his animals on the farm are covered in white blankets of snow! Children will love guessing who is hiding under the snow blankets and will stay engaged peeking under each flap. They will stick with the book to the end where a button will sing a magical tune. This cute holiday book  is a fun winter addition to your library.

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21. Creepy Carrots – Ages 2 and up… Is this rabbit losing his mind or are creepy carrots really following him…find out in this darling imaginative book. Typical objects take on the look of carrots to this rabbit. Excellent for retell and recall, answering questions, prediction…. so may ideas!

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22. All Better – What preschooler doesn’t love band-aids??  In this darling interactive boo-boo book, kids get to help animals and make them feel “all better” by putting bandaids on their owies! The band-aids have corresponding animal pictures and kids love to choose the wrong ban-aid for the animals, we make a silly game of it.

 Happy Book Shopping! Please share in the comments your favorite books, I am always looking to grow my library with AMAZING books! 

Jen Bjorem M.A., CCC-SLP




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