The best books on toddler development and behavior

Who am I?

My passion has always been caring for and educating young children. I spent over 20 years in the classroom as a child care professional and much of that time was with toddlers. I discovered that the stereotype of the terrible twos was truly misguided. I chose books that will shed new light on why toddlers behave the way that they do. These books will show the reader what an important time this is in a child’s growth and learning. I believe that these books will help convince you that toddlers are not terrible; they are terrific!


I wrote...

365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity: Games, Projects, and Pastimes That Encourage a Child's Learning and Imagination

By Joni Levine,

Book cover of 365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity: Games, Projects, and Pastimes That Encourage a Child's Learning and Imagination

What is my book about?

With 365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity, you can spark your child's creativity and maximize his or her potential every day of the year. Written by an experienced child-care expert, you will find hundreds of entertaining toddler activities, songs, games, and art projects that stimulate cognitive development and encourage inventiveness. You and your toddler will enjoy playtime with age-appropriate activities like: magic sun prints, treasure chest, sprout in a bag rainbow toast, fishing in the tub, all-about-me book, and so many more!

Featuring everything from outdoor activities to rainy-day fun, 365 Toddler Activities That Inspire Creativity provides hours of creative toddler play!

The books I picked & why

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Touchpoints-Birth to Three

By T. Berry Brazelton, Joshua D. Sparrow,

Book cover of Touchpoints-Birth to Three

Why this book?

T. Berry Brazelton has been recognized as an expert on parenting and child development. I used to eagerly wait to read his newspaper column that offered concise advice on child care. In this book, Brazelton covers the milestones of typical development and he discusses common concerns of this age range. Although this book focuses on emotional and behavioral development, his background in pediatrics allows him to write about physical development as well. You will learn, in detail, what to expect of young children up to age three in this comprehensive book.

The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children

By David Elkind,

Book cover of The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children

Why this book?

I had a hard time choosing between this book and Elkind’s bestseller, The Hurried Child. David Elkind has a special gift for understanding both the importance and magic of early childhood. Current research reinforces the critical importance of play in young children’s growth and development. The author recognizes that young children are currently being raised in environments that are stressing academic achievement and technological advances. He makes a strong case that play is not a luxury but rather a necessity for the healthy development of toddlers and all young children.

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

By Ellen Galinsky,

Book cover of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

Why this book?

There are many opinions and schools of thought on how to best raise and care for young children. The author lays her discussion firmly on the solid foundation of research. Beyond academic skills or ability, Ms. Galinsky identifies seven skills that will lead to the child’s success in the future. Skills such as making connections or critical thinking need to be fostered for a child to do well in school as well as in interactions and endeavors later in life. This book is sometimes used as a text in college classes. And yet, parents will easily find this content accessible with concrete ideas to develop these essential life skills.

From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development

By Deborah A. Phillips (editor), Jack P. Shonkoff (editor),

Book cover of From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development

Why this book?

What are the biggest impacts on a child’s development? This book takes a close look at both nature (genetics) and nurture (the environment). I find that this book is an informative review of what we have learned about early brain development. The influence of experience and culture on the developing child is looked at through the development of the brain. After reading this book, you will have a renewed understanding of just how critical the early years of child development are. It is easy to see that this is a time of extraordinary growth and change and your role as a parent or educator takes significant meaning and implications.

Understanding Toddlers & Twos: Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals

By Gigi Schweikert,

Book cover of Understanding Toddlers & Twos: Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals

Why this book?

This book is part of a trilogy that offers valuable insights and strategies for caring for young children. Readers will gain an understanding of toddler development and behavior. The author also covers techniques for promoting positive connections with adults and responding to the child’s individual needs.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in toddlers, child development, and nature versus nurture?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about toddlers, child development, and nature versus nurture.

Toddlers Explore 27 books about toddlers
Child Development Explore 22 books about child development
Nature Versus Nurture Explore 13 books about nature versus nurture

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like First Feelings: Milestones in the Emotional Development of Your Baby and Child, NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children, and Potty Patrol (Paw Patrol) if you like this list.