Toddler Tested, Mother Approved Picture Books


I have always had a strong affinity for a great picture book. When I became a mom, I had such visions of grandeur about settling into my son’s bed after a long day, curling up with a few great picture books and giggling our way through the stories. We’d go to the library week after week to check out the newest children’s fiction and our own home library would grow exponentially with each passing holiday. But as a parent, here’s what I’ve learned: if your toddler isn’t into it, it’s not getting read. Toddlers love books, but they tend to obsess over a few. So our home library grows, but his list of preferred books stays the same. Introducing a new book into the line up takes a lot of negotiating and possibly begging. So I’ve compiled a list of toddler tested, mother approved picture books guaranteed to weave their way into your child’s stack of favorites.

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

dragonslovetacos copyWe received this book as a gift and I am so thankful! Did you know dragons love tacos? Did you know dragons love parties? Did you know there is nothing dragons love more than taco parties? There’s only one problem; dragons hate spicy salsa. If even one drop of spice ends up in the mouth of a dragon you’ve got a real mess on your hands. My son’s favorite part is when the fire-breathing dragons destroy everything in sight after eating a spicy taco. I have given this book as a gift at least three times (to both boys and girls I might add) and I’ve always gotten rave reviews.


The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

This story is a compilation of letters that a box of crayons have written to a boy citing all of their grievances regarding how he does or does not use them. Pink crayon is particularly upset about her lack of use, while blue crayon has been worked to the bone and is looking for vacation time. My son’s favorite is the peach crayon because well, the boy peeled of his wrapping and now peach Thedaythecrayonsquit copycrayon is NAKED. There is nothing funnier to a toddler than naked. All of the crayons in our house are now naked. All of them. The book ends with the boy reading all the letters and creating a masterpiece using each crayon in the way it asked to be used. My son sits for long lengths of time studying that beautiful picture.


How to Babysit a Grandpa/How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan

The twist in this book is exceptionally smart. Grandpa comes over to watch his grandson while his parents go out, but that’s not how the young boy sees it. He teaches you step-by-step how to babysit a grandpa.howtobabysitagrandpa copy You learn everything from what sort of snacks grandpas like to how to play with a grandpa, and ultimately how to say goodbye to a grandpa. My son’s favorite part is when the boy teaches you to take a grandpa for a walk, but don’t forget to apply sunscreen all over the top of a grandpa’s bald head. Cue the giggles. Once we heard there was a grandma version we just had to get it! It is equally adorable with a little girl visiting her grandma for a sleepover. Such a sweet take on grandparent relationships.


Let’s Go for a Drive (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

I could have picked any of Mo Willems books from the Elephant and Piggie series. We nearly have them all. My son loves every single one. Each book is pure dialogue between two characters (an Elephant named Gerald and a pig named Piggie). The books are a breeze to get through when you’re exhausted and looking to shorten the bedtime routine. Did I say that? letsgoforadrive copyPiggie is a vibrant outgoing character who loves her best friend Gerald to death. She’s always up for any adventure. Gerald is an idea guy who also worries quite a bit about everything. He is always looking out for Piggie. I find myself trying to perfect my Piggie and Gerald voices when I read these stories to my son. You can’t help but get into character because you are only reading dialogue. My son has every word of every book memorized. I often overhear him reading them to himself at naptime and he always reads along with me. Last night we even read in tandem. I played the voice of Piggie and he played the voice of Gerald. How could I ever get tired of that?


So there you have it. Toddler tested, mother approved picture books. I hope you and your children love and adore them as much as we do!


What are your favorite pictures books? We’d love to hear from you!







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Mom to a 3 ½ year old boy and 16 month old girl/boy twins, Liz Fendell is a recovering perfectionist hailing from St. Louis. Her current aspirations are showering three times a week and keeping all three of her precious munchkins alive. She survives on her ability to laugh at herself and with her nearest and dearest. Her new mantra is, “I am enough” and believes a healthy dose of humility and grace can get her through anything. And if that doesn’t work there’s always Plan B: witness protection. She exercises when she can and has recently pondered strapping her Fitbit to her 3 ½ year old son. Surely that kid is reaching 10,000 steps per day! A full time stay-at-home mom and talented lifestyle photographer {at Liz Fendell Photography}; she is passionate about capturing both the ordinary and the extraordinary moments in her clients’ lives.


  1. The first book on this list, Dragons Love Tacos, is my two year old son’s FAVORITE book. It will stop a melt down about leaving somewhere (i.e. The fishes at the pet store, Nana and Pawpaw’s house, the park, etc) ASAP to tell him we’re going to go read “Dragons”. Ask him what dragons love and he’ll tell you “Tacos!” And what they hate- “Hot. Peppers!!” I have had to prop this thing up on the page you have showing- “hot fires!!” In order for him to go to sleep a couple of times. My first tattoo reads “A room without books is like a body without a soul” and my child may look like a carbon copy of my husband, but the kid’s got his Mama’s heart, lol.

  2. We love Mo Willems at our house too – As E is learning to read she thinks they are pretty hilarious to read to us!

  3. My parents recently bought the “How to Babysit…” books for my daughter and she is obsessed! And the best part is every time we read them she talks about my parents. So so sweet! xo

  4. Those How To Babysit A Grandma/Grandpa books are getting purchased today before my mom and dad’s next visit. Thanks for sharing!


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