Dr. Seuss, who’s real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, is perhaps the most famous children’s author of all time and for good reason. He wrote so many wonderful books that build literacy skills using silly and rhyming words. He has become an icon in children’s literature, no wonder there’s a whole week dedicated to him and his work that has become a major event in daycares, preschools, and kindergartens.
From his first book And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) to his last Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990), Dr. Seuss has so many amazing books to choose from for all reading levels. These are perfect for any storytime, circle time, or bedtime story. However, not all of his books are loved by toddlers.
We know this may be an unpopular opinion, but even some of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved books of all time are not the best reads for toddlers. Most of his best-sellers are pretty long, wordy, and complicated for toddlers, and because of that won’t keep a toddlers attention while reading. Dr. Seuss has some lesser known books that are awesome for toddlers, good thing he has so many books!
Benefits of Dr. Seuss Books
The best Dr. Seuss books for toddlers focus on rhyming words – continuous rhyming. When children can rhyme, this can be a predictor of future success in reading. Rhyming breaks down words into smaller words or segments.
Practicing this will make it possible for your child to tackle new words. Children who aren’t doing well in reading are often unable to do this.
Children learn the rhythm of our written and spoken language through rhyming. Rhyming is fun for all children and allows them to develop inflection in their voices.
Children also learn word families such as ten, men, den, and pen. Word families are the basis of language, and it is fun for a child to realize they can create a new word based upon a word that sounds the same.
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The Best Dr. Seuss Books for Toddlers
While some of his most famous books are not the best for toddlers, there are some wonderful Dr. Seuss books perfect for this age. His signature, ridiculous rhymes really appeal to this age, and the repetitive text helps them focus. Here’s our list of Dr. Seuss books that toddlers will love (and sit through entirely!).
There’s a Wocket in my Pocket
If you’re looking for a classic Dr. Seuss with silly rhyming, imaginary creatures, and bright colors, check out this one. Because of the ridiculous rhyming, this book will have children dying with laughter as they follow a young boy through his house of made-up creatures. They may not understand what the words really mean (especially the made-up ones), but they do understand that the rhyming is funny.
One of the best parts about this book is that it leads the way into rhyming with your toddler. A great way to keep learning and cementing the idea of rhyming is to make up your own rhymes with your toddler after you read the book and encourage them to make some up, too!
The Foot Book
In this wacky book of opposites, Dr. Seuss introduces us to silly, funny, and different kinds of feet that can be found all over the place. In true Dr. Seuss fashion there’s still a lot of catchy rhymes and fun illustrations in this amusing book.
This wonderful book is sure to get your toddler laughing while also teaching them relational words. Like many Dr. Seuss books, it’s also a great way to learn opposite words. After reading this book together, you and your toddler can make a game out of where you can put your own feet.
Mr. Brown can Moo! Can You?
Here’s a super fun book that children will love to read with you and really get involved with. This cute children’s book is all about making popular animal noises and other sounds that are funny and amusing for young children. And with all the animal sounds and funny noises, there’s still rhyming text.
This book is a great way to get children trying and practicing new sounds with you. His signature rhymes make the sounds even more fun, too.
Dr. Seuss’s Book of Colors
This is the most colorful book you can find in the Seuss collection and a pretty simple one that does a good job keeping a toddler’s attention. The book of colors is fun to read and easy to follow with no in-depth plot line.
Dr. Seuss’s Book of Colors is great for reading with toddlers who are learning their colors or in addition to other color activities. Have them find even more colors in the world around them as they read the book. Encourage them to pick out new colors or play I spy with you based on colors in the book.
Dr. Seuss’s Book of Animals
What toddler doesn’t love animals and reading books about animals? This Dr. Seuss book may be lesser known, but it’s very simple and appealing to toddlers at the same time. There are still bright colors, funny illustrations, and silly rhyming to go along with learning the names of the animals in the book.
This book is a fun and amusing introduction into the world of Dr. Seuss because the book includes real animals and some famous imaginary creatures from other Dr. Seuss books. After seeing all the funny, wacky characters in this book, your toddler will be more interested in some of the longer books later on.
Tips on what to look for
Penguin Random House who publishes all of Dr. Seuss’s books now makes the distinction on some of their easiest books. The children’s books that are best suited for babies and toddlers have a label that says, “Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners”. If you see that on the cover of the book, you know it’s truly a beginner book and a great book for toddlers.
Another helpful hint is to look for shorter books. You may never have realized, but some of his most well known books are very long like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is 63 pages long!
Dr. Seuss books we don’t recommend for toddlers
While we love Dr. Seuss and his works, not all of his books are good for very early readers, especially babies and toddlers. While all of his books use simple words, many of the most famous stories are too long and do not keep a toddlers attention. Some of them don’t make sense to toddlers or have too deep of a message for toddlers.
Here’s a few best-selling Dr. Seuss books that we often see recommended for young children. Don’t get us wrong, we also love these books, and we may recommend them for older preschoolers, kindergartners, or beginning readers. But for even younger children, these books are ones we would skip for now.
Green Eggs and Ham
Arguably Dr. Seuss’s best known book, Green Eggs and Ham is truly iconic. It’s an excellent book in so many ways, and a great book for language skills in older children. However, we’ve found this book is too wordy for toddlers who will lose interest pretty quickly.
Cat in the Hat
Here’s a Dr. Seuss’s book that is extremely well known, and this one has so many great things about it. It’s a fantastic book for young readers. Because it’s still one of our favorites, I try to read it to my toddler by skipping a lot of the words to make it shorter.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
The first few pages of this book are iconic, but then it gets pretty difficult for toddlers. My son is almost two and a half, and, while he loves reading with me, we’ve never made it through the whole book. The large amount of made-up words can confuse him, and he gets lost in how the story jumps around.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC
I personally love reading this book and have tried and tried with my toddler, but we usually don’t even make it halfway through the alphabet. I know he’ll like it one day, but it’s currently too long with too many complicated words he doesn’t understand. Even though he does know all of his letters, he still doesn’t appreciate this book.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
While this is a favorite during the holiday season, it’s not an ideal book for toddlers. The important message of this book is lost on toddlers who do see Christmas mostly for the gifts. Young kids also have a tough time understanding that the main character of the book is supposed to be the bad guy.
Horton Hears a Who
A lot of Dr. Suess’s books have great life lessons, and the story of Horton is the perfect example of that. A person’s a person no matter how small. And while it’s great for children to hear those important messages, toddlers don’t understand deep lessons from books yet.
Get the Board Book
One piece of advice for anyone looking for Dr. Seuss books for babies, toddlers, or young preschoolers just starting to take interest in books is try the early board books. They now make most of his classic books in a shortened board book form that’s much easier for younger children to follow. The board books condense the story and have fewer words, but still keep the great story line, silly rhymes, and colorful pictures.
Check out these fun Dr. Seuss math activities
To go along with all your favorite Dr. Seuss books, try these awesome math activities with your child. These are a fun way to practice math in connection to reading and to stories that children enjoy. Find the whole article here.
Try some The Cat in the Hat activities
If you do choose to read The Cat in the Hat with any of your children, try these fun activities along with the book. The activities are great for any age and awesome for Dr. Seuss week! The whole list of activities can be found here.
Here’s another fun book for toddlers
Another great book for toddlers is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Here’s a whole list of activities you can do with that book.