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Best toddler books to read with your little one

Looking for the perfect bedtime read with your toddler or preschooler? Here are some of Mumsnet's top picks to share with your baby bookworm.

By Laura Cooke | Last updated Jan 30, 2024

It’s never too early to try to instill a love of reading in your little one. 

Not only is reading with your toddler a great way of encouraging parent-child bonding, it also helps to improve language skills, social skills and empathy, boost cognitive development and help children to learn about their emotions and feelings.

There are so many amazing books by incredible children’s authors out there, it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin on your reading odyssey. We’ve consulted the Mumsnet forums for these tried and tested recommendations to help get you started.

From chunky lift-the-flap favourites to silly rhymes and even a bit of toilet humour (albeit with an important message attached), here is Mumsnet’s pick of the best toddler books to buy in 2024, as tried and tested by parents.

Read next: Best baby books for newborns and toddlers

Key specs

Age: 3-6 years | Price: £8

What Mumsnet users say
CorBlimeyGovnr · Tried & Tested
Fix it duck is a work of art.
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ASimpleLobsterHat · Recommended
Fix It Duck is brilliant - my two loved that book and I enjoyed reading it.
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Our verdict

Can he fix it? Erm…no, he can’t. But Fix It Duck is full of good intentions, even if his DIY skills are lacking.

Older toddlers will love listening to the hilarious adventures of the calamitous Duck, from the author of the equally-hilarious Duck in the Truck.

Read next: Best toys for 3-year-olds: gifts preschoolers will love

Key specs

Age: 1-3 years | Price: £4 (board book)

What Mumsnet users say
TiggeryBear · Tried & Tested
"Hungry Caterpillar is a firm favourite here with my 5yo."
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Our verdict

No list of the best toddler books would be complete without everyone’s favourite creepy crawly with an insatiable appetite.

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has been delighting children for generations with its beautiful and instantly recognisable illustrations, simple storyline and holes in the pages where the caterpillar has ‘eaten’.

Read next: 12 best bath toys for babies and toddlers


Letters from Maisy by Lucy Cousins

Key specs

Age: 2-5 | Price: £12

What Mumsnet users say
ayjay2018 · Tried & Tested
“One surprising success in my house is Letters from Maisy. Maisy goes on holiday and sends her friends postcards and gifts, which you take out of the envelope pages to read. She loves the last page where maisy has sent (insert name here) a letter and postcard.”
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Our verdict

In this delightful little book, the titular Maisy goes on holiday, visiting a mountain, market, funfair, river and beach (phew!), writing letters on her travels to all her friends. This story includes six real envelopes containing letters, souvenirs, games and a special postcard for your child to help them feel part of Maisy’s big adventure.

Read next: Discover the best Montessori toys for creative, educational play


Peep Inside the Garden by Anna Milbourne

Key specs

Age: 1-3 years | Price: £6 (board book)

What Mumsnet users say
AuntieJune · Recommended
The Usborne lift the flap books - my kids loved anything with flaps at about that age.
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Our verdict

From the forest to space, this lovely lift-the-flap series from Usborne takes your little one on a voyage of discovery. In Peep Inside the Garden, your toddler will find out all about the animals and minibeasts that can be found scurrying around the bottom of the garden.

Read next: Best toy storage solutions for a clutter-free home in 2024


Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

Key specs

Age: 2-5 years | Price: £6 

What Mumsnet users say
110APiccadilly · Tried & Tested
“DH and I have found Hairy Maclary books to hold up very well to repeated reading!”
See Post
Our verdict

With a procession of excellently-named and beautifully drawn dogs, including Muffin Mclay (like a bundle of hay) and Bottomley Potts (covered in spots), this classic book by Lynley Dodd is perfect for older toddlers, who’ll love to join in with the expertly crafted rhymes.

If your little one falls in love with the engaging characters, the good news is the gang can be found getting up to more mischief in several other titles, including Hat Tricks, Showbusiness and Rumpus at the Vets.


Fox's Socks: Tales From Acorn Wood by Julia Donaldson

Key specs

Age: 1-3 years | Price: £4 (board book)

What Mumsnet users say
ThatDreamSheep · Recommended
“The Acorn Woods ones with flaps.”
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Our verdict

Disaster! Poor old fox has lost his socks…and he needs some help finding them. 

The unstoppable duo of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are behind this bestselling lift-the-flap book from the delightful Tales From Acorn Wood series, which sees our hero search high and low in a bid to warm his cold toes.


I Need a Wee! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Key specs

Age: 3 years upwards | Price: £7

What Mumsnet users say
Burgerqueenbee · Tried & Tested
“I Need a Wee! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet is a firm favourite here.”
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Our verdict

Uh oh…poor Alan the bear needs a wee, but with so many distractions, will he make it to the loo in time? This laugh-out-loud yarn will help to teach potty training youngsters why leaving it until the last moment is never a good idea. And Alan’s tale will no doubt prompt a giggle from parents too.

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The best of the rest

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson | Buy now from Amazon

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen | Buy now from Amazon

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers | Buy now from Amazon

Spot Goes to the Farm by Eric Hill | Buy now from Amazon

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith | Buy now from Amazon

Oi Frog! By Kes Grey | Buy now from Amazon

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr | Buy now from Amazon

Ten Minutes to Bed Little Dinosaur by Rhiannon Fielding | Buy now from Amazon

About the author

Laura Cooke is a Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a special focus on toddler play, child play and outdoor play. She is a mum of two and lives in Sussex.

Laura is a freelance journalist and has written for a range of publications including The Daily Mirror, the i, Metro, Stylist and Happiful.

How we chose our recommendations

All of our recommendations for books came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which books Mumsnetters and their children really rated. We also researched various review sites to find out which books performed well across the board.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.