Best books for toddlers

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  • Reading to toddlers while they're young and encouraging them to enjoy books puts them in good stead to become a bookworm and broaden their vocabulary. Here's a list of some of the top children's books for new readers.

    There’s nothing more satisfying than those early years when your child is learning to read and their improvements come on quick and fast.

    The best way to make sure you’re keeping up to speed with your little one, and to keep their progress fast and fun, is to supply them with plenty of great books. This collection ranges from classics you might remember yourself from when you were little, to some of the newer offerings on the shelves.

    We’ve included good old fashioned favourites like Winnie The Pooh and Peter Rabbit and some shiny new ones, too. Think Aliens Love Underpants (yes, that really is its title) and the Charlie And Lola stories, which somehow have an inexplicable grip over all small children it seems.

    There are options suitable for tiny tots with plenty of pictures to keep them entertained, to stories that will be best for between 3-5 year olds with trickier words and longer sentences to stretch their vocabulary and reading skills. Plus, you’ll be pleased to know, there’s not a Biff and Chip book in sight!

    Cuddle up at bedtime and enjoy listening to some of these tales with your little one, although be warned – once they find one they love you might have to listen to the same story every night for the next six weeks solid. Or is that just our lot?

    Scroll through using the arrows to discover what it is we love about each of the books and why we think your kids will love them too. Once you’ve found a few favourites you can search for them in your local library, look out for them in expensive charity shops or buy them online. Whatever way you come by them, we’re sure they’ll be firm family favourites for years to come.

    The Tiger Who Came to Tea

    The Tiger Who Came To Tea, £15.08

    A sweet story about a tiger who interrupts little Sophie’s afternoon tea with her mum. He’s a very polite tiger, although he just happens to eat and drink everything in the house. It’s just very, very funny and 40 years after it was first published, The Tiger Who Came To Tea is still a favourite with children today.

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    Where the Wild Things Are

    Where the Wild Things Are, £5.03

    A little boy Max puts on a wolf-suit and goes looking for mischief, resulting in him getting sent to bed without any supper. In his room he imagines a magical forest filled with monsters big and small. This book is over 30 years old and is still enjoyed by children everywhere. Magic, mischief and mayhem are rife – which, if yours are anything like ours, will be right up their street!

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    Mixed Up Fairy Tales

    Mixed Up Fairy Tales, £6.99

    Nike and Hilary take traditional fairy tales, and scramble them all up together with funny results. They’ll recognise the stories initially and will love the twists and turns they take when they merge into other tales.

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    Girrafes Can't Dance

    Giraffes Can’t Dance, £4

    A beautiful book about a giraffe who can’t join in the jungle dance because he doesn’t know how to Tango, but learns that it’s OK to be different and he can dance to other songs instead. The brightly coloured illustrations and rhyming language keep them enthralled along with the funny story.

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    The Gruffalo

    The Gruffalo, £5.89

    The Gruffalo is a beast with ‘terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws’ invented by a little mouse to scare away his enemies – but perhaps he’s not so pretend after all. This book is perfect for reading aloud and you can even buy a book and tape set of it. Great rhymes, funny illustrations and kids will love learning the words.

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    The Elephant and the Bad Baby

    The Elephant and the Bad Baby, £6.39

    An Elephant takes a Bad Baby for a ride and they go ‘rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta down the road.’ They help themselves to ice creams, pies, buns, crisps, biscuits, lollipops and apples, and the shopkeepers follow them down the road shouting and waving. It’s a clever way of teaching children the importance of saying please.

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    I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato

    I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, £5.77

    Charlie tells a reluctant Lola that peas are green drops from Greenland and carrots are orange twiglets from Jupiter, she’s soon eating her greens. They’ll sympathise with Lola for not fancying her veg – great for fussy eaters!

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    Banana

    Banana, £5.94

    A well illustrated book about a monkey who tries all sorts of tricks to get hold of a tasty banana, but learns that surprisingly saying please goes a long way. Another great one to teach manners in a fun and engaging way. They won’t even suspect a thing!

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    The Giant Jam Sandwich Paperback

    The Giant Jam Sandwich, £7.99

    A group of villagers hatch a plan to make a giant jam sandwich to get rid of a swarm of bees in their town. A really underrated classic in our opinion. What’s not to love? There’s comradery, a giant jam sandwich and plenty of pictures. Tick, tick, tick!

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    Fungus the Bogeyman

    Fungus the Bogeyman, £5.37

    Fungus is a bogeyman that lives in the dark and disgusting Bogeydom. Follow a day in his life while he goes about his business of scaring humans. Children will love the repulsive detail given to describe Fungus and everything he does.

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    Dear Zoo

    Dear Zoo, £4

    The zoo keep sending pets, but none of them are quite right… What will happen? There are all sorts of different cardboard flaps to lift up for them to peep under and they’ll be discovering all sorts of animals.

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    Peter Rabbit

    Peter Rabbit, £5.35

    Peter Rabbit is a naughty rabbit who’s always getting into trouble in Mr McGregor’s garden, where he lives with his mother and siblings. It’s simple and has lovely drawings, a real classic.

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    The Very Hungry Caterpillar

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar, £5

    A caterpillar is very hungry and starts to eat and eat and eat. The holes in the food, learning to count and the last page are sure to delight toddlers!

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    Spot the Dog

    Where’s Spot?, £4

    Spot the dog is missing. Can you help find him? Toddlers will love lifting the flaps of paper to see where Spot is hiding in this interactive book.

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    Paddington Bear

    Paddington Bear, £3.49

    A teddybear who loves marmalade sandwiches from darkest Peru but finds himself in London somehow! Paddington is such a lovable, fun character and his silly adventures and bumbling ways will have little ones excited to read it time after time. An all-time classic.

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    Harry Dinosaurs

    Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs, £5.85

    Harry finds some toy dinosaurs in his Nan’s loft. All’s well until one day they get lost. You’ll have to read the story to find out how Harry gets them back! Kids will love learning the names of dinosaurs. And the idea of toys coming to life appeals to all kids.

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    Kipper the Dog

    Kipper Story Collection, £7.51

    The funny adventures of Kipper the dog. These are fun, with bold drawings and easy-to-read stories – perfect for an early years reader to get them excited about books.

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    The Cat in the Hat

    The Cat in the Hat, £4

    A madcap cat in a stripey hat who goes around causing havoc. It’s silly but has brilliantly easy to remember rhymes and funny illustrations. One that they’ll always remember.

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    Thomas the Tank Engine

    Thomas the Tank Engine Complete Collection, £29

    The adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine and his other friends on the branch line. There’s great rhymes, funny illustrations and kids will love learning the words.

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