Parents | Raising readers & learners.

Home of Parent & Child Magazine

Choosing Books for Your Prereader

Learn how to pick titles for babies and toddlers.

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Cognitive Skills
Alphabet Recognition
Reading Comprehension

A whole world of children's literature awaits your always-curious little one. But how do you find the books that will inspire your child? Below, you'll find age-appropriate tips from librarians, teachers, parents, and reading specialists for building your child’s library and creating great memories in the process.


Choosing Books for Infants
Buying Basics
If you are just starting your baby’s bookshelf, remember that the time spent reading together is just as important as the kinds of books you choose. Look for:

  • Sturdy board books with rounded edges
  • Wipe-able plastic (ideal for bath time)
  • Bold, high-contrast illustrations or photos with simple or no text

Favorite Subjects: Baby Bests, Animals, Pat, Pull, and Play Books
Favorite Characters: Barney, Clifford


Choosing Books for Toddlers
Buying Basics
Busy hands, busy minds. Keep toddlers occupied with activity or simple picture books that introduce common themes and invite conversation. Look for:

  • Large, colorful pictures and simple storylines or rhymes
  • Activity books, lift-the-flap, touch-and-feel
  • Book-and-toy sets

Favorite Subjects: ABCs & 123s, Animals, Bedtime, Pat, Pull, and Play Books
Favorite Characters: Bob the Builder, Clifford, Dora the Explorer


Choosing Books for Preschoolers
Buying Basics
In order to capture a preschooler’s attention, it’s important to select books that have engaging illustrations and enjoyable, read-aloud text. Look for:

Favorite Subjects: Exploration & Nature, Friendship, Animals, Pretend Play
Favorite Characters: Dora the Explorer, Franklin, I SPY, Madeline


For more books and series your child is sure to love, check out our recommended reading lists or take the Home Library Builder Quiz.

Find Just-Right Books

The Reading Toolkit