25 Must-have Children’s Books for Ages 2-5

Picture books promote a love for learning. You can start reading aloud to your child before they’re two. It will stimulate their development and ignite their imagination. Much of the enjoyment of a children’s book comes from reading it aloud.

Children’s picture books combine images and symbols with words, pop-ups, sounds and textures to create a narrative. They develop your child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension skills, such as how to look at the pictures for story clues.

Young fingers have much more fun turning board books made with heavy cardboard. These children’s books are durable. They tell a story with pictures, but not always words, by exploring the different senses.

As children grow, picture books stimulate their visual literacy, language and creative thinking. They also help children and adults discuss difficult topics like diversity and processing feelings.

Below we’ve listed 25 picture books for children ages 2-5. Our book list includes books read at Petit Early Learning Journey centres, as well as:

  • Children’s bestsellers
  • Australian authors
  • Classic children’s books
  • Award-winning books
  • Interactive children’s books.

Children’s books ready for reading at a Petit Early Learning Journey centre

25 Children’s picture books for ages 2-5

1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1969)

Mum sends Max, a “wild thing” to bed without any supper after causing mischief and threatening to eat her. Max decides to journey off in his imagination to where the wild things live, tames them and becomes their king.

This children’s book is filled with social-emotional messages about learning to control emotions and unconditional love. A children’s classic and bestseller, Where The Wild Things Are is a favourite with toddlers and preschoolers.

2. Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Larry Lipton & Paintings Eric Puybaret (2012)

This children’s bestselling book is an adaption of Peter, Paul and Mary’s favoured 1960s song. It spins the story into a beautiful visual tale about imagination and friendships.

3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1998)

Packed with educational value, this popular children’s book engages inquisitive minds in counting and the curiosity of metamorphosis. Children love to engage interactively with the book and its story.

4. We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (1989)

Celebrating 30 years, a family with their dog strike out on a quest to hunt for bears. Filled with fun sounds meant to be read aloud, you can share in their adventures with a reading by the author:

5. Mr Brown Can Moo Can You by Dr. Seuss (1970)

Representing one of over 60 children’s books published under the pen name, Dr. Seuss, Mr Brown Can Moo Can You continues to delight children. This kids’ picture book contains silliness, wonderful noises, energetic rhythms and colourful cartoons that culminate in a fun-filled crescendo.

6. I Love You To The Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth and illustrated by Tim Warnes (2015)

A perfect bedtime story, I Love You To The Moon and Back takes parents and children on a sentimental journey of a bear and cub spending their whole day together.

Young girl in yellow shirt reads an Australian picture books at a Petit ELJ centre

7. First Steps Touch And Feel: Baah Baah!, illustrated by Ana Fonseca (2016)

Baah Baah! is an interactive book for young learners who enjoy the sensory storytelling of board books. This Australian book sparks the development of early motor skills and engages inquisitive minds in picture word recognition.

8. Five Little Ducks, Song by Raffi, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey (1992)

If you’re seeking a hands-on song toddler book with a catchy nursery rhyme with counting and colourful illustrations, then this board book is perfect for 2 and up.

9. The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland (2008)

This children’s picture book will make you laugh. It has captivating animal characters that must discover how to cheer up a very cranky bear.

10. Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (2014)

Australian author Aaron Blabey’s illustrated children’s book is part of a popular series. There are over 4 million printed Pig books around the world. Pig is a greedy, rude Pug who doesn’t like to share his toys.

11. Possum Magic by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas (1983)

Possum Magic is a classic Australian children’s picture book that merges text with illustration. Grandma Poss uses her bush magic to make Hush invisible. Loved for its use of language as much as its introduction to Australian animals.

Children’s picture book, I’ll Always Love You by Peony Lewis and Penny Ives awaits inquisitive hands at Petit ELJ

12. I’ll Always Love You by Peony Lewis, illustrated by Penny Ives (2001)

A gentle story about unconditional love that’s a favourite at Petit ELJ’s centres. It explores the consequences of actions while easing anxieties.

13. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri (2012)

When it’s listed on New York Times Best Sellers Children’s Picture Books for 268 weeks, it has to be a good book! Full of silliness, taco party and a dire warning about what not to feed dragons.

14. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (2013)

The last thing you expect when you open your box of crayons are letters saying they’ve quit. A humorous story book about crayons, colours and colouring. The comic storyline and amazing illustrations will ignite your child’s creativity.

15. The Good Egg by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald (2019)

A follow up to The Bad Seed, The Good Egg immediately became a New York Times Best Seller. This is a children’s picture book series worth reading for its fun repartee, thoughtful messaging about self-care and self-acceptance and delightful illustrations.

Kids books like Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek have thoughtful themes

16. Blue Penguin by Petr Horacek (2015)

In this endearing and beautifully illustrated tale, a blue penguin doesn’t fit in because he looks a little different to other penguins. A story about friendship overcoming loneliness.

17. The Earth Book by Todd Parr (2010)

A timely children’s board book with themes of conservation and environmental protection. It uses simple language and engaging illustrations to inspire preschoolers to look after the Earth.

18. Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes by Eva Chen, illustrated by Derek Desierto (2018)

A young girl embarks on an adventure through space and time in the shoes of female icons. With colourful and vibrant illustrations the book aims to empower girls with messaging about self-realisation. Perfect for preschoolers and up.

19. Mixed: A Colourful Story by Arree Chung (2018)

This children’s book is not just a lesson in colours but in community, diversity, friendship and inclusion. It’s wonderfully illustrated with vivid colours and big words suited for preschoolers and up.

20. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd (1983)

While this picture book suits early readers 6 and up, children as young as 3 may be interested in hearing this rhyming tale told by parents. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy is a dog that sets off on a crazy adventure followed by a group of doggy friends.

Two children enjoy the reading of a toddler book by an Educator at a Petit ELJ centre

21. Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Jonathan Tweet, illustrated by Karen Lewis (2015)

This nonfiction children’s book suits children, 4 years and up. It contains sound science with simple, clear language. It also invites reader participation asking children to search the illustrations for specific animals.

22. Press Here by Hervé Tullet (2010)

An interactive book for children 2 and up. Children embark on a playful journey following instructions that mimic actions resembling an app, while teaching basic ideas in math and art.

23. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (1999)

A clever mouse goes for a walk in a forest followed by three animals keen on eating him. This repetitive rhythm and rhyming story is a fun kids book to read aloud.

24. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (2004)

Another superb children’s book by Australian Author Mem Fox. The book, littered with sheep rhymes and repetition,  reveals the search for the green sheep. It also explores basic concepts like up and down and is an ideal picture book for toddlers.

25. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941)

A story about family. This delightful tale has stood the test of time with its charming story set in Boston about Mrs Mallard, who must convey her children across busy streets to Boston Public Garden where their father waits.

A Petit Early Learning Journey Educator reads stories to kids in an outdoor setting displaying illustrations

Give Your Child the Love for Learning At Petit Early Learning Journey

Did you know that at Petit ELJ, we love to have parents come and read to our children? It’s just one of the activities you can join in. Others activities include cooking, sharing an interest, and donating time. Parent participation helps to enlighten children.

We also encourage children who do not sleep during rest time to participate in quiet time activities such as reading. Our cosy centres contain a variety of children’s books suitable for all ages and interests.

Our Educators read daily to children in all our studios. Our centres’ design provides cosy nooks and spaces both inside and outdoor to engage children in reading picture books. Come have a tour through your nearest centre and discover a love for learning at Petit ELJ.

Book a tour now.

2019-06-22T00:57:29+00:00June 25th, 2019|Articles|

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