Short stories for toddlers are one of our favourite bedtime rituals.  Which is why we love this article from MoM Contributor ‘Story Mama’ …

So as a bookseller I am completely biased, but I just don’t think there is a better gift than short stories for toddlers. A well loved story becomes loved like a dear friend or teddy bear and a great quality picture book can be enjoyed aloud for years.

Lots of research suggests you should be reading aloud to your child from birth, preferably every day to give them a head start on literacy, vocabulary and even success at school. Short stories for toddlers are perfect too as you don’t need them to sit still for too long!

The question is though, just what books should you be reading them?

By  one year old, your child will generally be starting to engage with books, by reaching out, by wanting to turn the page, or lift a flap. You may even find that they want to put the book in their mouth for a chew. This is the reason publishers invented the durable board book – made from heavy (almost) indestructible cardboard, board books are a fantastic format for this age group.

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Simple and short stories for toddlers are best, as little attention spans are not very long. Infants also like seeing things they recognise and are familiar with like other babies, or household objects. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing books for your child that you like and enjoy reading aloud, enthusiasm is completely infectious.

Here are my picks for the Top 10 short stories for toddlers:

1. Baby Wombat’s Week, by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

In this award winning sequel to diary of a wombat, the baby wombat sleeps, eats, gets bored and creates havoc wherever he goes. This is a very cute and naughty baby Wombat. We love the antics of this wombat who has some very human like characteristics. Especially cute is the wombat using his mother as a climbing frame which will be very familiar to most families.

Watch and listen to Baby Wombat’s Week right here …

2. Are You a Cow? By Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton books are a great choice for very young children as they are very simple, colourful and cartoon like. In this one a bossy chicken demands to know what type of animal the reader is. Little children starting to learn the word “No” will enjoy giving it a workout. There is a sweet lesson in this book about being your own special self.

3. Who Sank the Boat? By Pamela Allen

In this Pamela Allen classic a Cow, Pig, Donkey, Sheep and Mouse all leap one at a time into a boat until it sinks. Little kids will love guessing which animal sinks the boat…. Even when they have heard it a hundred times, it never gets old and will continue to surprise and delight. This is a fun picture book for little kids.

4. Goodnight Moon, By Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd

“Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Air, Goodnight Noises everywhere”…. In this story baby bunnies say goodnight to everything in the room. It may be that they are stalling bedtime, which may be familiar to parents. This book has been in print for more than 60 years and is a classic. We love that it has been read aloud to generations. It is a soothing, rhyming bedtime story, great to read aloud at the end of the day.

5. Time for Bed, By Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer

In this bestselling story by Mem Fox it is getting dark outside and all of the baby animals are being put to bed. This book actually seems to have magical powers to calm an energetic child with its gentle and rhyming text. This is an absolute favourite at our place, it was received as a gift on a 1st birthday and still gets read often now our little boy is four.

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle

We suspect you know this one and remember it from your own childhood. In this multi-international award winner baby Caterpillar eats his way through all sorts of fruit and unsuitable food until it is time to go into its cocoon. It was first published in 1969 and has been translated into 25 languages and has sold more than 12 million copies. Can you believe that the concept of the holes in the pages came to author Eric Carle when he was fooling around with a hole punch. We think this belongs on the “every kids should own” list, with bright and colourful illustrations of the iconic caterpillar and fabulous finger sized holes to interact with.

Watch Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, read this story right here …

7. Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Multi-coloured Sheep are up to all sorts of antics in this one, juggling, diving, surfing, playing in the park. Can you find the Green Sheep? This award winning picture book has captured the imagination of children and parents alike. We know way too many parents who can recite this book by heart! It is a little bit silly and full of sheep having random adventures. This is bound to become a family favourite in any household.

8. Where’s Spot? By Eric Hill

In this original Spot book a child is encouraged to lift the paper flaps to find Spot.
Spot was very much the first picture book character my child fell in love with and this is a book that was requested again and again. Spot has been in print for more than 30 years and toddlers just love finding the familiar puppy under the paper flaps. As a warning to parents, lift-the-flap books should be read under supervision or with the sticky tape handy. Little kids can be rough with their affection.

9. Peepo, By Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Set in the 1940’s, this book follows the busy day of a baby. A series of holes in the pages lets your little one peek into the next page at the goings on of his family.
We love the nostalgia in this one, with buckets of coal and hairnets giving the reader a little glimpse into the olden days. It is an excellent reminder of life before TV and the iPhone. Little kids will enjoy saying “Peepo!” along with the baby in the story.

10. Apple Pear Orange Bear by Emily Gravett

In this very simple award winning picture book there is An orange, a pear, an apple – and a bear.
This book is perfect to read aloud to babies and toddlers. It is beautifully illustrated by Emily Gravett in pencil and water colour. We have ulterior motives with this one, start your child recognizing fruit early!

So these are our Top 10 Short Stories for Toddlers. We would love to know the books your toddlers enjoy. Share your favourites in the comments below.

  • Great selection of books. Especially love who sank the boat!


  • Some great classic books listed which I’m glad to see are still relevant


  • Oh we had some of these books. Love books.


  • I have many of those for my boys. Not sure I have ever understood Peepo though


  • We have a number of theses books for Mr 18 months but he will only sit still long enough for ‘spot’.
    His sister At the same age on the other hand would sit through ‘where is the green sheep, who sank the boat and 5 Peppa pig books and would still ask for more. You just have to find one they like and sometimes kids take longer to enjoy story time more than others


  • Bring a primary school teacher I had read a lot of books before my children came along and more i love reading with my children.


  • Where’s Spot and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are classics.


  • We just love books!


  • We just loved bedtime reading. It was something my hubby (who normally hates reading) was happy to pick up with our son. It was such a special time for them both.


  • Where is the green sheep is my girls favourite.


  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a favourite of both of mine
    Its a great list thanks for assembling


  • Great list – now I know what to get my neighbours toddler for his Christmas stocking. Thanks for sharing.


  • All the spot books are wonderful, as is a y of the books by Men Fox.


  • Shall have to check these out, my little girl loves books.


  • Oh gorgeous books… These and more. My son loves the Peppa pig books these days and the shoemaker and the elves.


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