Ten of Our Favorite Books for a Two Year Old

Joey Lulu LOVES books. She would probably be content to read all day with just a few breaks to run around before settling back in to read some more! My mother was a librarian so reading was (and still is) a huge part of my life, and it makes me infinitely happy to be able to nurture a lifelong love of books in Joey as well (she is named after my mother, after all!). Eventually of course I’d like to do the same with Olly, though at nine months old he’s more interested in chewing on books right now!

I wanted to share ten of our favorite books that Joey especially loves and that Andy and I don’t mind reading over and over (but honestly, do you really like ANY book when you’ve been asked to read it ten times in a row?!). Usually we read 2-3 stories to Joey before bed and then a few throughout the day and before her nap. She tends to go in phases, where she’ll want to read the same book every night for a few days or even weeks and then she’ll move on to something else. It was super hard to narrow down Joey’s favorites to just ten, but these are some that she keeps coming back to…. and ten is a nice even number that fit perfectly on the mantle, so there’s that!

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts: this is one of the first books we bought for Joey and is still one of our all-time favorites. The story is super cute, the illustrations have lots of details that keep Joey interested (she always has to point out every ball, every cat, every airplane — and don’t even get me started on the fashions and architecture!) and it’s inspiring for both kids and adults. There are two other books in this series that we like just as much: Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist. (These three together would make a great baby shower gift.)

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Janie Bynum: as a librarian, my mother frequently attended conferences where authors would sell and sign their books, so she’d always come home with random, autographed books for me. This happened to be one of them, which is kind of funny considering I was in my 20s when she gave it to me and I had NO plans of having children. I’m so glad I held on to it, because it’s a witty story full of puns about a porcupine who lives in a petting zoo — where no one will pet a porcupine — and he sets out on a hilarious quest to find a wife.

Footloose written by Kenny Loggins, illustrated by Tim Bowers: if Andy and I had a song, it would be Footloose!! We had it played during the processional at our wedding — on banjo! So when we saw this at the bookstore, we HAD to have it! This is a story about what happens at the zoo after everyone leaves, set to the tune of the classic Kenny Loggins song! Each page has bright illustrations of zoo animals dancing, and Joey LOVES to sing along! The only unfortunate side effect is that this song is very frequently stuck in my head!

Emma and the Whale written by Julie Case, illustrated by Lee White: this is one of our newer books and I’m so glad we bought it. It’s a very sweet story about a girl who helps a beached whale, with pretty watercolor illustrations and an underlying theme about protecting the ocean. Joey especially loves to request this book while wearing her new whale jammies… She takes after me and loves a theme!!

Be Our Guest: Not Your Ordinary Vacation written and photographed by Gray Malin: if you’re not familiar, Gray Malin is known for his fine-art photographs of beaches and Palm Springs, which of course is one of our favorite vacation destinations. So when I heard that he had written a kids’ book all about The Parker Palm Springs, one of our favorite hotels (remember when we went a couple years ago?), complete with his iconic photos of exotic animals at The Parker, well, I didn’t wait two seconds to order it! This book was only released last week, but Joey has been loving it.

They All Saw a Cat written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel: any book with cats is popular around here. The words of this story are very simple and repetitive, about all of the different animals who see a cat, but the beautiful illustrations show how each animal views the cat from a different perspective, from a mouse who sees a terrifying monster to a bird who looks down on the cat from up above.

Gaston written by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson: this is another book that Joey knows all of the words to and loves to read along. It’s the story of the dog Gaston who is a little different from his sisters Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo and Ooh-La-La (Joey Lulu calls her “Ooh-Lulu-Ah” which is totally adorable) but ends up finding exactly where he belongs. There’s a follow-up book about Gaston’s friend Antionette that we don’t like quite as much, but it’s still a cute story.

Poppy Pickle written and illustrated by Emma Yarlett: if I had to pick Joey’s absolute favorite-favorite book, this would probably be it. She is obsessed. She knows every word and loves to yell them out! It’s kind of a confusing one to read because it’s almost written in comic book form, but the illustrations are super colorful and fun, and the story is perfectly ridiculous… exactly like a toddler would love!

Swimmy written and illustrated by Leo Lionni: this is another book that I like because it’s just so pretty and Joey likes the story as well. This was a gift from our sister in law who said it was her favorite book as a child, and I can see why. It introduces a wonderful, weird, underwater world, and a smart little fish who overcomes some big obstacles.

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses written and illustrated by Paul Goble: this was one of my favorite books as a child. I grew up in Alaska, where Native American culture was a huge part of my life, and my parents exposed me to a lot of different native cultures from around the country (Native American Studies was also one of my focuses in college). This is the story of a Plains Indian girl who has a spiritual connection to horses. Joey loves looking at the pictures, and we’ve used them as a way to learn about animals that we don’t have here in Ohio. For example, when she asked me about the prairie dogs that she saw in the book, I pulled up videos of prairie dogs on YouTube for her to see what they look like in real life.

Collecting books for Joey and Olly has been one of my favorite parts of being a parent, and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow our collection. Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other favorites that we should look for? Let us know in the comments!!

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