Toddlers as a reading audience can be very particular. You have to find something that is short and simple. But once they latch on to a book that they like, be prepared to read it to them multiple, multiple times. Repetition is how they learn!
As the adult in a toddler’s life, you can increase your repetitive reading pleasure by choosing books that appeal to you as well. Here are a few that I have read over and over, and I’m not tired of them yet:
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard. Bird’s friends lighten his mood, despite his determination to stay grumpy.
I’m Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen. Baby Owl feels belittled by the other animals in the forest, but his wise mama knows what he wants to hear.
I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. The giant squid boasts about being the biggest thing in the ocean -- almost.
What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. In this supremely silly story, it looks like one of the animals is going to get squashed, until the desperate mouse suggests the use of a chair.
Jan Thomas has written several other books, but I didn’t think any of them matched up to Fat Cat until I read her newest title: Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy. (Look at the website listed on the first page if you want to hear the tune.) The not-so-brave cowboy keeps interrupting his bedtime song to the cows because he thinks he sees something scary (like a snake that is really a stick).
And for sheer brevity, you can’t beat Banana! by Ed Vere. This entire book about two monkeys learning to share contains only two words, “banana” and “please.” It will challenge you to read with many different inflections.
Have fun with these. And if your toddler won’t sit still for them, don’t worry. The important thing about reading to the littlest ones is to keep it light. Catch them when they’re in the mood and stop when they have lost interest. You can always try again later!