Great Preschool and Toddler Gifts: Favorite New Books for 2-3 Year Olds

I write a lot of reviews of books for the four to eight year old crowd. Yet, there are so many new and worthy picture books for two and three year old toddlers and preschoolers that have been published in the last few years! It's an exciting time to share books with kids this age because of the quality of what's available. Consider these as you contemplate what might appear under your Christmas tree or during one of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

(Publisher blurbs are italicized.)

Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail

New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2014

Meet Fred—a mischievous, playful, loving dog. It's time for Fred to go to bed . . . but Fred really, reallydoesn’t want to! From hiding up in trees, to splashing in muddy puddles, to hiding behind bookshelves, Fred will do anything to avoid bedtime. He would even rather have a bath than go to bed . . . but all of this running couldn't possibly have possibly made Fred sleepy—could it? 

Little Owls Night and Little Owl's Day by Divya Srinivasan

It's evening in the forest and Little Owl wakes up from his day-long sleep to watch his friends enjoying the night. Hedgehog sniffs for mushrooms, Skunk nibbles at berries, Frog croaks, and Cricket sings. A full moon rises and Little Owl can't understand why anyone would want to miss it. Could the daytime be nearly as wonderful? Mama Owl begins to describe it to him, but as the sun comes up, Little Owl falls fast asleep.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Inside a tent it's cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. 

Baby Bear Sees Blue and Baby Bear Counts One by Ashley Wolff

Baby Bear Sees Blue was named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 2012.

Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it’s time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and—best of all—a patch of yummy red strawberries.

Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper

One day Little Green rolls into town and says his first word: "Go!" The town is building a bridge, and now everyone has a job to do, from dump truck to forklift. Little Green helps them do their jobs with gusto. Until . . . there is a little too much gusto. They can go, go, go . . . but how will they stop?

You Are Not My Friend, But I Miss You by Daniel Kirk

When two friends—a sock monkey and a plush toy dog—get into an argument during playtime, Monkey gets his feelings hurt and proclaims, “You are not my friend!” But when he takes his ball to find someone new to play with, he quickly learns that maybe he hasn’t been a very good friend, either.

Planes Go, Trucks Go, Diggers Go, and Trains Go by Steve Light

(Publisher blurb from Diggers Go): The excavator goes, "chumma chumma hufft hufft FALUMP." The steamroller goes, "CHUG chug CHUG chug moooooosh." The wrecking ball goes, "BOOOOOM!" Come on down to the construction site and make some noise with eight exciting construction vehicles as they rumble, crunch, chug, and boom their way through this lively book! The oversized format lends itself to the shape of the vehicles and the boisterous text begs to be read aloud.

Alphablock and Countablock by Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo

Alphablock was named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 2013.

With thick pages cut into the shape of each letter, children and parents will enjoy this peek-through guessing game around the letterform itself. Sprinkles, hot fudge, and cherries hint at I’s ice cream sundae, while aquarium accessories hint at F’s fish. As readers interact with the pages, they will familiarize themselves not only with the 26 letters and associated words, but also with each letter’s physicality—angles, holes, and curves, both front and back. With Peskimo’s animated, stylish visuals, this fresh ABC book encourages readers to manipulate the alphabet in a whole new way. 

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

Two fuzzy creatures can't agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all!

The simple text of Anna Kang and bold illustrations of New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant tell an original and very funny story about size—it all depends on who's standing next to you.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Every book needs you to turn the pages. But not every book needs you to tap it, shake it, jiggle it, or even blow it a kiss. Innovative and timeless, Tap the Magic Tree asks you to help one lonely tree change with the seasons.

No Two Alike by Keith Baker

Follow a pair of birds on a snowflake-filled journey though a gorgeous winter landscape to explore how everything everywhere is wonderfully unique—from branches and leaves to forests and trees to friends and loved ones.

Blackout and Blizzard by John Rocco

Blackout is a Caldecott Honor award-winning book.

Blizzard is based on John Rocco's childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the book opens with a boy's excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood's immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street.

Blue on Blue by Diane White and Beth Krommes

Read my review here.   

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel

Read my review here.  

Found by Salina Yoon

Read my review here.   

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Winner of the 2013 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Read my review here.

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka 

Winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal.

This New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Best Illustrated Book relates a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy's anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka's signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.

There are so many more amazing books for two and three year olds that I would love to share with you. Check out my entire list here:

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