My Favorite Books to Encourage Language Development

These are some of my favorite books to read with toddlers to encourage speech and language development. I share some specifics for why I like each book, but a commonality for all is that every book is cute, repetitive, lyrical, and relatively short, making them perfect for toddlers.


Baby Beluga

You and your toddler will definitely want to sing Baby Beluga! For specific recommendations on how to use this book (and song), please read my blog post, Baby Beluga: A Book and Song To Improve Your Toddler's Language.


Goodnight Moon

This classic bedtime book will entice your little one to get ready to sleep by saying, "Goodnight" to the various objects in the room.


Blue Hat, Green Hat

Boynton has a playful and entertaining way to tell simple and delightful stories. I particularly like this book to get your toddler to say, "Oops!" It's so adorable when a little one says "Oops!"


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

There's something so fun about saying, "Chicka chicka boom boom!" Toddlers particularly love shouting "Boom boom" when the letters fall off the coconut tree.  A super-engaging book to target the common first word "up". You do not need to buy the complete edition of this book; I feel that 36 pages is too long for most toddlers. This link is to the shortened version, which is age-appropriate for toddlers.


Do You Wear Diapers?

This book playfully and repeatedly asks the reader, "Do you wear diapers?" Nice way to encourage a toddler to think, respond, and either nod or shake his or her head OR respond with a verbal "Yes!" or "No!" Read my guest blog post on Professors Carole Zangari and Robin Parker's site, PrAACtical AAC, Building Language and Emergent Literacy Skills With Do You Wear Diapers.


Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Read my blog post How to Read Brown, Brown Bear, What do You See? to Get Your Toddler Talking for tips. I have a particular fondness for this Brown Bear book, but honestly, I haven't read a book by Eric Carle that isn't great for toddlers who are learning to speak!


Good Night, Gorilla

Another sweet bedtime book filled with delightful surprises. I'll try not to ruin them but keep your eye (and your toddler's) on the balloon and the person (people) in the window :) Believe me, your toddler will LOVE this book. Great book for encouraging a toddler to point and express joint attention.


First 100 Words

Research supports that something called “iconicity” - the similarity between the real object and the one portrayed in a book - can positively influence a child's ability to learn complex actions. The key to reading a book like Priddy's is NOT to turn it into a stack of flashcards. Rather, touch the pictures, make the sounds, perform hand gestures, and form facial expressions associated with the objects and animals.

Don’t Push the Button!

Of course, what happens when you tell your toddler, "No" or say "Don't"? Maybe it's just my children, but if I say these words, especially in a joking manner, like in this book, they'll want to do just the opposite! Nice way to target following directions.

The Very Busy SPider

My little guy LOVES this book. We have been reading it every night. He giggles when I make the animal sounds and even tries to neigh like a horse, meow like a cat, and woof like a dog. This folks is the magic of reading books together; the comfort and safety created during such intimate, no stress moments intrinsically motivates your toddler to express him or herself.

If You See a Kitten

"If you see a cuddly kitten...say, "Ahhh!" If you see a pudgy pig...say, "Peee-ew!"" Soft and gentle illustrations entice your child to say a variety of fun sounds like "Ouch!", "Oooh!", and "Wow!".


Five Little Monkeys

When reading this book, perform the gestures that correspond to the actions occurring in the book.  Turn your fingers into a phone when reading, "Mama called the doctor..."Wag your finger, when you read "No, more monkeys jumping on the bed." Gestures help facilitate toddler's understanding and often emerge before the onset of the spoken words so it's advantageous to act it while reading it.

Mr. Brown Can Moo

I still can't believe Dr. Seuss didn't like children. Regardless, this is one of my favorites because it's a hoot to read! Similar to If You See a Kitten and The Very Busy Spider, this book will motivate your toddler to shout out "Moo", "Cock A Doodle Doo", "Tick Tock", "Knock, Knock" and so many more sounds while you read and re-read this book.

The Going To Bed Book

When reading this book you'll wonder why they exercise after changing into their pajamas but I'm not too sure Boynton even knows why. This is a playful book to read to children, especially those who may not like to brush their teeth. Elicit words like brush and teeth - "...we brush and brush and brush our teeth."


Max’s First Word

Big sister, Ruby is once again directing Max to do something. This time, she is trying to get Max to say some appropriate first words like cup, egg, and apple. She does not succeed. Max blurts out a first word that is not quite expected. This irony and humor is why I love this book and many others by Rosemary Wells. Toddlers are unpredictable!