My parents read to us – A LOT. And I always envisioned myself reading to my kids, I figured all kids love books and stories.


But, my son is a little too busy for sitting quietly and listening. I could never get him to sit with me and look at a book for more than 10 seconds until my sister in law sent him a couple of books for Christmas – Dear Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar – and my kiddo fell in love with those books. These are a couple of the best books for 18 – 24 months!

I went on a hunt for a few more lift the flap books like Dear Zoo, and interactive books for toddlers in general… ‘cus if that’s what it takes to get my son interested in books (I want to encourage reading at a young age), then that’s what I want!

If you are also wondering how to make storytime interactive for your busy kiddos, you will love this list!

Best Lift the Flap Books for Preschoolers (books like dear zoo!)

Who: Peek-a-Flap Board Book

Great for kids who love their books a little more… vigorously. This one has thick chunky flaps that won’t rip right off or bend too fast. (12 flaps.)

Open the Barn Door

Similar to above, a good solid board book. Have fun finding all the animals in the bard! (10 flaps).

First 100 Animals

I love learning books in general, and animal books are always fun because you can teach animal sounds while you teach animal names. With 50 flaps (!!!)  to lift, this one keeps little people occupied for more than a minute.

First 100 Words

Another great learning book that is heavy on flaps – 35 this time, which is still quite a few! REALLY great for that 18-24 month range when they are still learning basic words.

Sesame Street: Elmo’s ABC Lift-the-Flap

55 flaps teach kids their ABCs, AND keep them entertained, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here.

It’s stuffed with surprising alphabetic words, rhymes, and riddles to discover! (Like how many things can you find that start with the letter P? What objects are hiding behind the letter H?)

More interactive books for toddlers (other than flaps!) 

It’s not JUST flaps that make for fun books to read to toddlers.

Think pop-ups, buttons, sensory touch anythings! Toddlers love to be INVOLVED in their storytime, and interactive books like dear zoo make that possible.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I mentioned this one earlier, and it was also an instant hit with our son. It has tiny finger-sized holes where the caterpillar has “eaten” his way through the book – and it is SO MUCH FUN to test each hole.

We read this together often.

The Noisy Train Book

This one is BOUND to be a hit, with a built-in sound button and pop-ups. It’s still board book style, so it’s pretty heavy-duty – which is great for tiny people who don’t understand things like “tearing” and “bending”.

How many Bugs in a box?

This one is a fun pop-up book that promotes learning (this time numbers!!)

Kids can count the bugs in the box over and over again. (It’s funny how they don’t get tired of doing the same thing, huh?)

Hoppity Frog

This one has sliders – you “slide” the little animals out of the page. It’s so fun! It’s also quite sturdy, but note that it’s a short book.

Usborne Touchy-Feely Books

I thought it was interesting that my son, at 27 months, is still enjoying touchy-feely sensory type books that I would have normally assumed were for younger babies. The stories are basic (he can practically quote them) but he still LOVES to “pet” and rub all the pages. We have some from this serious and “That’s Not My Lamb” is among his favorite books.

Before we had any interactive books for toddlers, I would pick up a book, pick up my kid and 30 seconds later, storytime was over, and he was off to something more entertaining.

On the rare occasion he DID sit with me and the book for a few minutes, it was mostly a battle to keep him from tearing or bending the pages. That makes him sound like a little destroyer, but I swear he isn’t! We don’t even really struggle with the “terrible twos” (well, we did, but we cured that!).

He is just the sweetest kid and he was just so excited to turn the pages like I was doing. It was just that listening to books without being involved somehow just IS NOT for him at this age. And it’s not for many kids! (I suppose that’s how lift the flap books for preschoolers came into existence!)

Kids this young are just not MEANT to sit still and keep their hands to themselves. They need to be constantly learning and doing. (If you need ideas to keep your busy toddler occupied, here’s a list of great toddler activities you can try! If it’s hot and you need to get outside, check out these summer activities for toddlers!)

Reading to your kids is great bonding time, but also great for their learning – they learn language by listening and they develop a love for reading from a young age. (A love of reading will ONLY help them as they grow.)

I personally believe reading counteracts some of the detrimental effects of screen-time for toddlers, too.

Having books that kids can interact with keeps them excited about story time, and they are totally worth the investment!

If you have a toddler, You might also like to read:

How to get your toddler to eat veggies 
How to feed your toddler without a fight
Why our toddler goes to bed at 10 pm

What would you add to this list of best books for 18 – 24 months? If your child has a favorite interactive storybook, I’d love to hear about it and add it to our list.

fun books to read with little kids

fun books to read to toddlers