The best picture books to share with your 2.5 year old

Who am I?

With our 2.5-year-old we read all the time. She is a great critic, letting us know if the book is to be read ‘again’ or to be put ‘away!’ As well as a PhD in Education, I am also a trained teacher, having worked with preschoolers running Steiner Waldorf inspired parent and child groups and playgroups, so I am fascinated by the power of story. I try and choose books that are inclusive and age-appropriate, keeping the child in a magical space, as well as allowing for lots of laughs! I also love to share books that I am happy to read three times in a row!


I wrote...

Searching for the Ideal School Around the World: School Tourism and Performative Autoethnographic-We

By Alys Mendus,

Book cover of Searching for the Ideal School Around the World: School Tourism and Performative Autoethnographic-We

What is my book about?

This book shares the nomadology of Alys-we searching for the Ideal School. Fed up with the System, traditional mainstream education directed by neoliberalism, and high-stakes testing, I travelled to over 180 places of learning/schools in 23 countries that were educating differently. Through performative autoethnographic-we, I share these embodied experiences in poems, vignettes, journaling, and ethnodrama. I realised that the Ideal School is an oxymoron and that schools and schooling, even within innovative education, are not the future for learning.

By sharing stories from the ‘gems’ that currently exist in places of learning/schools, there is the potential and hope for a paradigm shift. Read this book to follow my journey as I share stories and trouble different innovative pedagogies (including Steiner Waldorf, Progressive, Democratic, and Montessori).

The books I picked & why

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Baby Business

By Jasmine Seymour,

Book cover of Baby Business

Why this book?

Our whole family loves this book about an Indigenous child’s smoking ceremony. As a white settler-colonial family in Australia we are keen to read and learn from Indigenous authors and the publisher, Magabala press, are outstanding in the quality of the books they publish. The simple yet effective computer-created artwork gives an intimate insight into the importance of the first lesson of law, connecting to Country, which leads to great conversations and reflection. The inclusion of Indigenous words within the story adds to the depth of sharing with the audience and allows the voices of the women to be heard beyond those who usually attend such an important rite of passage. A real treasure. I wish it came as a board book as our copy has had to be taped together many times!


Good Night, Sleep Tight

By Mem Fox, Judy Horacek (illustrator),

Book cover of Good Night, Sleep Tight

Why this book?

We adore this book and know it all off by heart! Our 2.5 year old can often be spotted sitting ‘reading’ this book to herself, reciting the poems! The simple repetitive story tells the tale of a babysitter (Skinny Doug – although for some reason he has always been known as Lanky Dave in our house!) singing nursery rhymes to Bonnie and Ben, the children he is looking after. Such a lovely book to share and we have even added in our own extra nursery rhymes for the picture of the moon at the end. Judy Horacek’s bright and cheerful and inclusive artwork makes this a family classic.


Scarface Claw, Hold Tight

By Lynley Dodd,

Book cover of Scarface Claw, Hold Tight

Why this book?

We first found this book in our local library, and we loved it so much we had to buy a copy ourselves. Our toddler loves ‘purr purrs’ and in this book, Scarface Claw, a ferocious tomcat, is asleep on the roof of the car when its owner sets off for a drive. Such adventures ensue, delighting us all. The illustrations and witty rhymes are fun to read and recite (yes, it is another that you end up knowing off by heart!).


Little Bird's Day

By Sally Morgan, Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr (illustrator),

Book cover of Little Bird's Day

Why this book?

This is another delight that we found in our local library. The illustrations and design of Little Bird’s Day are exquisite – the background colours of the page change as the story moves through the day and at night the page is covered in stars except for the outline of a bird as it dreams about flying across the sky. The story is beautiful and the artwork by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr is outstanding. It is no surprise that this book was nominated for several book awards in 2020. It should have won all the prizes. Another excellent Indigenous author and illustrator that I hope more people will read and share with their families.


Rudie Nudie

By Emma Quay,

Book cover of Rudie Nudie

Why this book?

Two young children jump out of the bath and run around their home naked until they get dried and dressed in their pyjamas and go off to sleep. We love being ‘nudie nudie’ in our house and the fun rhyming words in this book are regularly recited as we play! We also love the Rudie Nudie Christmas edition that came out in 2020. As someone from the UK living in Australia I love the details in this book that let me know it is set in Australia such as the house having a screen door to keep all those pesky mosquitoes out!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in bedtime, nursery rhyme, and birds?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about bedtime, nursery rhyme, and birds.

Bedtime Explore 27 books about bedtime
Nursery Rhyme Explore 13 books about nursery rhyme
Birds Explore 121 books about birds

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Moo, Baa, La La La!, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? if you like this list.