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Baby & Toddler

The Best Informational Books for Toddlers

by Lindsay Barrett

informational-books-for-toddlers
Photo credit: kate_sept2004, E+ Collection/Getty Images

When you hear “informational books for toddlers,” do you picture a tiny human with a disproportionately giant encyclopedia perched on his or her lap? Don’t! Informational books for the very young are actually a thing, and the children’s publishing world is bursting with more enticing options each year. Including informational books in a toddler’s reading diet builds vocabulary and world knowledge. For some children, informational books are the ones that spark their love of reading.

Toddlers’ worlds tend to be pretty small, so informational books that connect to their real-life experiences are reliably appealing. Of course, books also serve to expand children’s worlds, so books that introduce unfamiliar ideas in age-appropriate and engaging ways are shelf-worthy, too. Here are some toddler-approved go-to options.

  • Hello, World! Series

    by Jill McDonald

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    Like all parents know, as toddlers grow better at communicating, they start asking questions. A lot of questions. With a range of captivating topics, these titles include many of the standard features of informational writing for older readers — labeled diagrams, captions, and charts, but with adorable, little-kid-level flair. How Do Apples Grow? was immensely helpful in explaining to my frustrated toddler why our backyard apple tree didn’t offer fruit for picking in the middle of January. Able to grow with a child, Hello, World! titles can be enjoyed just by browsing the pictures, and later by sharing every fact and label. (Chances are, adult readers will learn a thing or two also.)

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  • Hey, Water!

    by Antoinette Portis

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    Curious young children will appreciate this informative picture book about water. From rivers to snowmen, water comes in various shapes, temperatures, and states. It even makes interesting sounds. With spare text and colorful illustrations, this book is an excellent way to introduce your toddler to the essential substance.

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  • How It Works: Tractor

    by Amelia Hepworth, illustrated by David Semple

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    Inquisitive children will love this delightful interactive board book. With adorable illustrations, flaps to lift, facts to learn, and a farm to explore, this book will become a storytime favorite for you and your child.

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  • Good Night Our World Series

    by Adam Gamble

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    This series wins for breadth of topics — its titles can help your toddler say goodnight to just about any location or thing you could imagine. In my family, we’re partial to Good Night Beach and Good Night Lake. Our family enjoys both landscapes in the summers, and reading these books year-round keeps the conversations about fishing and sandcastles flowing. All the titles in the series are excellent for breaking down big topics into toddler-sized ideas.

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  • Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Series

    by Mrs. Peanuckle, illustrated by Jessie Ford

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    Get ready to discover some remarkable animals, insects, plants, and foods in this unique series of alphabet board books. With vibrant artwork and interesting facts on every page, these books are fun and educational to read with your toddler.

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  • Tool Book

    by Gail Gibbons

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    Gail Gibbons is an institution in the field of children’s informational books. Her board book options for toddlers are to-the-point but still offer plenty of specificity for little ones who appreciate a higher level of detail. My little construction-worker wannabe loves the labeled pictures of different hand tools in Tool Book. (Now, where do I find a plastic chisel for their toddler tool belt?)

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  • Hello, World Series

    by Ashley Evanson

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    Traveling with a toddler can be a nightmare — unless you do it from your couch. With the help of this brightly illustrated board book series, you can show your child the sights in Germany, New York City, Tokyo, Paris, and many other exciting places. They’ll also learn concepts like opposites, shapes, time, and colors as you read.

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  • Wheelie Books Series

    by DK

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    If you have a toddler vehicle-enthusiast, you’ll make his or her book dreams come true with Fire Truck, Digger, and Tractor. The chunky, shaped pages layer to create an actual head-on vehicle shape. Inside, the labeled photos of related vocabulary encourage lots of studying and pointing. For adults who are more comfortable delivering dramatic renditions of story books, the language gives a little help toward expressive reading of the informational genre. Fire Truck asks, “Can you flex your arm like my boom?” and ends with, “Siren on, lights flashing, we are off to the rescue!”

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  • First Emotions? Series

    by DK

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    Help your little one explore their emotions with this adorable board book series. From happy to angry and everything in between, these books will help your child identify their feelings and learn how to handle them. It’s the perfect primer for toddlers as they venture into the world of playdates and preschool.

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  • Global Fund for Children Series

    by The Global Fund for Children

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    Toddlers love to look at pictures of babies and children. These titles are akin to coffee table books for the under-three set. The image-focused books share photographs of youngsters from around the world and have so many details for toddlers to marvel at. It’s hard to pick a favorite photo, but my son is partial to the Peruvian baby in the brightly colored woven hat and the Spanish infant supporting his local soccer team in Global Babies.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021.