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10 MUST have books for under two’s, with hands-on activities to support

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

This list took me a lot longer to make than my 10 MUST have picture books in a story basket. You may notice there are some on both lists! For this list I had to think about the 5 senses and durability. The other factor I considered was repetition, mine ( can I read it 50 times and not want to ‘loose’ the book) and the children’s (they ask for it many time if not 50 times a day).

1. That’s not my… series

2. Where’s spot?

3. Dear Zoo

4. The very hungry caterpillar

5. Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?

6. Goodnight moon

7. There were 10 in the bed

8. Old MacDonald had a farm

9. Nursery rhyme books twinkle twinkle twinkle little star, 5 little ducks etc.

10. There was an old woman who swallowed a fly

There are no soft or cloth books as I decided these would probably be better in the 10 MUST have books for babies.

Let’s get started on my list and why I selected them.

First up the That’s not me series, it is great for little hands to touch, prod and play with. They are perfect in a story basket, just think senses and texture. I have made sensory sticks, spoons and shapes to support and extend on books in this series. After making story baskets for a while I realised I hadn't added the white mouse that is in the book and created a felt one. The children adored it and added a 'hide and seek' game with it.

I also love the use of a cardboard cut out to look through.

Where’s spot? Children adore the flaps and seeing where the characters are hiding. This has a peek-a-a-book feeling that keeps children coming back for more. It is easy to get you hands on a Spot soft toy, in fact when I asked, I got 4! I also think part of the charm of this book for under two’s is that ‘No’ is said often and can be said with gusto. The e-pattern with story stones is very versatile too.

There are so many other great titles you can also use in a story basket. I extended on the Spot bakes a cake with baking equipment for the children to play with and ‘make a cake’ and Spot visits his grandparents with a basket of felt veges.

Dear Zoo is another flap book with animals but the children LOVE to add the animal sounds (more on why they love animal sounds in Old MacDonald had a farm below) , especially the ROAR of the lion. I created a hands-on experience with felt pockets to put the animals in and out of. This is one of my most popular e-patterns due to the hands on and schema (enveloping and enclosing) support.

You can’t go past the very hungry caterpillar as the eaten holes are perfect for little fingers to put in! I have extended on this with a FREE very hungry caterpillar posting tin pattern. Here is a closer to two year old edition but you could create a bigger very hungry caterpillar to feed toy food. This has been my most popular story basket, with felt food, crotchet food and of course a very hungry caterpillar soft toy!

The repetition in Brown bear, brown bear what do see? Has great appeal for the children and to be honest I do not mind reading it over and over (which is a BONUS).

I have created story stones for this book and disks for Panda bear, panda bear what do you see? it would be a quick story basket to put together with the animals put in a basket with the book. You can also use soft or plastic toys to bring this book to life. I love added photos of the children for them to look at as they love to see themselves and others.

Goodnight moon is perfect before sleep or rest times. There is something soothing with saying goodnight to things around you, a little like counting sheep. I have created a basket full of items (with bunny and the book) to sooth and settle a child and this is also goods to older children who may not sleep but can rest whilst holding onto items. What to put in the basket is all about knowing the child and their routines. Again, the senses come into play and you may add something soft or furry for comfort or something that can be spun like wheels for fidgeting with.

I have made story stones for this story with small stones (Tuscan stones from Bunnings) but you could make them on bigger ones for children who still put items in their mouth.

There were 10 in the bed is a wonderful counting book that can be read or sung. There are many books available but my favourite is the one with all the bears and photograghed. There is also a farm and animals collection version. A story basket or ‘bed’ is easy to make and you can add soft toys that are the same as the book or not. I also bought some bear chip clips and used these for children to strengthen their fine motor skills. I have also added craft counting sticks (easy and inexpensive to make, you just need number stamps, ink and mod podge to seal them) when children show an interest in numbers. Children also love to pretend to be in bed and roll over at group times. I often only have 5 in the bed with this age group.

The classic Old MacDonald had a farm is a MUST. Making animals sounds is a natural progression for young children and are easy to do. They are also the building blocks for creating other words. Animals sound also pave the way for sentences “dog woof” becomes other combinations. And of course, children LOVE animals so imitating them makes complete sense. Soft toys are great as an extension but I like to use puppets as children can then imagine they are the animals and ‘talk’ to the other children or animals.

A great extension for the story is an‘I spy’ bottle with the animals in coloured salt and small worlds with all the animals and a barn.

Every child hears nursery rhymes and so it seems obvious to include them. There are so many Nursery rhyme books to choose from like twinkle twinkle little star, 5 little ducks, the wheels on the bus etc. I am not sure if Old Mac Donald fits in this category too but thought it warranted its own place.

Last but not least the nonsensical and many variations of There was an old woman who swallowed a fly. The ending has since been changed from when I first started teaching and the ‘perhaps she’ll die removed’. I still use it. There is an opportunity to talk about it or not, it depends on where you put your focus and why. The best part of the book is the ‘wriggled and jiggled’ that I increase in volume and facial expression as the story becomes absurd.

I created a posting tin for this book and have many variations for different seasons and even healthy eating!

How'd I do? What are you top 10 books for under two’s?

Until next time.


P.S. there are affliate links 9if you use them i may get some moolah), links to e-patterns and blogs.

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