How Books Can Help Toddlers Build Their Self Esteem

When your toddler comes to you with book in hand and lisps, “Momma, read me,” his words melt your heart and make you smile because you know that snuggling up with a good book together is fun — plus a great way for you to teach him new things. Books can help him build healthy self-esteem, learn about his body and emotions, understand why he’s special and how he fits into the family — and a whole lot more.

I Am

During your toddler’s second year, she learns that she has her own identity. Books that help her learn about herself include Todd’s Snow’s “You Are Beautiful” and “You Are Important.” Snow encourages your toddler to know that she is beautiful from the inside out — and that she really matters.

Your toddler learns that she should like the way she looks and feels — and that it’s okay to make a mistake — in Nancy Carlson’s “I Like Me.” Allia Zobel Nolan’s “What I Like About Me” introduces her to lots of special kids who enjoy being different, so your toddler knows that she’s awesome just the way she is.

I Can

Your toddler is learning lots of new skills, from dressing himself to potty training. Sam Lloyd’s “What Color is Your Underwear” talks to your toddler about going potty and big boy underwear. Sandra Boynton’s “Hey, Wake Up!” and “Pajama Time” looks at all the things your toddler does to start his day and to get ready for bed.

Sesame Street characters model taking pride in skills, such as brushing teeth and taking a bath, in “I Can Do It.” These books can inspire your little one to tackle new skills and take pride in what he can already do.

I Belong

Your toddler needs to feel a sense of connection to her family and to her world. She wants to know that you love her. Barbara M. Joosse’s “Mama, Do You Love Me?” and “Papa, Do You Love Me?” are about the love of a parent for a child. Robert Munsch’s popular “Love You Forever” assures your tot that she will be loved from her earliest moments until she is grown. There are lots of different kinds of families and Todd Parr’s “The Mommy Book.”

“The Daddy Book” and “The Family Book” explore different ways families can look. He invites you and your toddler to celebrate them all.

I Feel

Sometimes your toddler’s emotions can overwhelm him. Leslie Patricelli’s “Baby Happy, Baby Sad” helps him decide why he feels the way he does. Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama book series explores being mad at Mama and missing her when preschool starts. Saxton Freymann’s “How Are You Peeling” uses funny vegetable and fruit shapes to get your toddler to explore feelings — and might even encourage him to eat his fruits and vegetables. He’ll love the unusual faces, which will likely have him making a few faces of his own!

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