Reading books to babies and toddlers don't just support literacy, they set the stage for learning math concepts.
Books for this age focus on simple math concepts like counting and patterns. They include bold illustrations that encourage lap sitters to find and recognize shapes and relative sizes.
Counting Books for Babies and Toddlers
Demonstrating that counting can be fun is great well to help kids develop a positive relationship to math! Don't worry about making sure your little one can repeat the numbers in order, though! Rest assured, you little one is learning through observation.
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang. This is one of my absolute favorite board books. I loved reading it to both my boys at night time and I can still recite it from memory. I even included it in my list of toddler books I'll miss reading. A young girl counts items in her room as she gets ready for bed. "10 small toes all soft and warm. 9 soft friends in a quiet room," all the way down to "1 big girl all ready for bed."
Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book by Karen Katz. What better way to encourage a love to counting than with love and kisses? Karen Katz has a number of counting books toddlers and babies will love. As you turn the pages with your little one, you will (of course!) want to give your child lots all the kisses (and more!) that the mom shares with our own baby in the book. Be sure to read the companion book, Daddy Hugs.
Toddler Two by Anastasia Suen is a sweet board book in which a pair of twins count all the pairs they see. The simple repetitive pattern in the text "Two legs, one, two. Two arms, one, two" is perfect for little ones and reinforces the simple pattern learning they are already doing in life.
Doggies by Sandra Boynton. Everyone loves a Boynton book! This silly book will get your toddlers barking, counting and giggling at the same time.
Shapes and Patterns
Babies and toddlers begin to recognize patterns long before they recognize counting and numbers. Stimulate their brains with bold and bright books. Our list of the best black and white board books includes more titles to share with your little one during lap time.
Black & White by Tana Hoban. These classic books are essential "reads". Babies love looking at contrasts. Parents can name shapes and objects, encourage participation by asking little ones to point to the objects, or simply turn the pages and gaze while cuddling.
Spots and Dots by Chez Picthall continues along the same line as Hoban's Black and White books but adds in color and repetitive patterns.
Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli encourages toddlers to consider relative height in this exuberant book about a child who shouts to be pushed "Higher! Higher!" until she is so high that a wave to the local alien population is warranted. Parents might recognize the familiar feeling of their own exhaustion as the return to earth prompts, "Again!" Although you may not immediately think of this as a math book, recognizing relative size and distance is an important early math skill.
Bright Baby Touch and Feel board book series. Parents know that kids want to touch everything! They learn through touch so why not make reading a multi-sensory experience with books that include textures as well as pictures and words.
My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle is a great choice for 2 year olds. Each illustrated page is spilt. The top half shows a bold, black shape with it's name. The bottom half displays a familiar object like a kite, a watermelon or lady bug. Kids can turn the top half separately to match it with the object on the bottom half of the page.
See more of our best books for 2 year olds.
Big Little by Leslie Patricelli , as the title suggests, compares the size of different objects. Patricelli's colorful illustrations are always crowd pleasing.
After you finish reading, fit these 10 ways to make math fun for babies and toddlers into your days with little ones.