November 7, 2014

Best Kids Books for a Two Year Old

Basket with children’s books.

My son is well into his second year of life. During his first year of life, I wrote about the best books for a one-year-old. He’s now moved on to an entirely new set of books. As he crossed the two-year mark, I saw how the standard elements that defined a good book for him began to change. While thick pages used to be essential, the dexterity of his hands has significantly improved making it easier for him to handle books with thinner pages. And while he previously preferred simple illustrations and short bits of text, he’s now graduated to books with more complex visuals and narratives.

It’s gratifying to see the love of books blossom in my son. My wife and I read a few books with him as part of his bedtime routine. Afterward, he insists on taking ‘em to bed, where he flips through the pages, recalling the stories he just heard. A few hours later I’ll return to his room to check on him and find he’s fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around one of his favorites.

Speaking of his favorites, here are the five books my two-year-old can’t get enough of:

The Gruffalo

Gruffalo (Julie Donaldson)

This story of a sly little mouse outwitting the creatures of the “deep dark wood”, has a rhythmic pace and wonderful illustrations. It instantly became my son’s favorite book, but I’ve also enjoyed it for its darker style of storytelling (but still appropriate for a two-year-old), reminiscent of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The Gruffalo’s Child

Gruffalo’s Child (Julie Donaldson)

The sequel—and a perfect companion to original—follows the daughter of the Gruffalo as she sets off to find the big bad mouse. During her adventure she meets the same creatures of the “deep dark wood”. Eventually, she comes face to face with the same sly mouse that outwitted her father. The story has had such an impact on my son, often his first words in the morning are, “read Gruffalo Child.”

Because I’m Your Dad (Ahmet Zappa)

Growing up, Ahmet Zappa received an endless amount of love from his father—rock legend Frank Zappa. This sentiment comes through in Ahmet’s first uniquely illustrated children’s book that centers on his father’s unorthodox parenting style. It is truly the perfect book for a father to read to his son.

Llama Llama Red Pajama (Anna Dewdney)

At the moment, this is my wife’s favorite book. She empathizes with Mama Llama whose needy baby Llama throws a fit when his mama doesn’t snap to his beckon call. With sing-song cadence and a lesson in patience, this is a great read for both you and your child.

Clifford The Big Red Dog

Clifford The Big Red Dog (Norman Bridwell)

While I’m skeptical of Clifford’s creation story – the love of Emily Elizabeth turns the runt of the litter into a 25 foot tall dog– kids seem to love the big red dog and his collection of friends. There are hundreds of Clifford stories and DVDs to choose from.

These are my son’s favorite books, but I’d love to hear any recommendations you and your kids have. Please leave them in the comments.


  1. Mel on

    Some similarities to our man T here! Another beauty is ‘Baa Baa Smart Sheep’ (a good Kiwi flavored read) and ‘Wheels on the Bus’ another sing-along favorite!!!