Toddlers can learn basic concepts about sound through books and reading. For example, toddlers can learn the difference between loud and quiet, how to listen or when to use an indoor voice versus outdoor voice. These books can be a great way to start talking about these topics.
Loud and Quiet
The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood
This book is about situations that call for a quiet voice such as “swimming underwater quiet” and sleeping sister quiet.” The graphics are cute, detailed, and not too bright. This would be a great book for settling down before bed or nap.
The Loud Book! by Deborah Underwood
The Loud Book is the same author as the Quiet Book except it’s all loud sounds (“Thunderstorm Loud” or “Candy Wrapper Loud!”). It’s a good way to describe how different situations and sounds can all be loud. It’s a quick read that would be good for story time – either with The Quiet Book or on its own.
Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
Each page has a quiet and loud example like “crayons are quiet” and “pots and pans are LOUD.” It’s playful, humorous, and colorful. This book has a Spanish edition, as well.
Voices Are Not for Yelling by Elizabeth Verdick
This is part of the awesome series by Elizabeth Verdick that includes “Teeth are Not for Biting” and “Hands Are Not for Hitting.” It’s basically the same idea except to address yelling. It teaches a difference between an indoor voice and outdoor voice and how yelling can hurt other’s ears. The other books in this category are more about the concept – this is more about psychology and changing behavior.
Hearing and Listening
The Ear Book by Al Perkins
This book is a classic and is part of the Bright & Early Board Books(TM) series. The look and feel is similar to Dr. Seuss and Perkins’ books are often apart of Dr. Seuss collections (including The Ear Book). It’s full of environmental sounds which are great for encouraging toddlers to talk.
The Listening Walk by Paul Showers
This is one of my favorites because it’s also an activity related to sound. A young girl goes on a walk with her dad and her dog, Major. She calls it a “Listening Walk” and talks about all the sounds she hears. It’s a perfect activity for little ones who can go on their own Listening Walk. For ages 3-7.
Listening Time by Elizabeth Verdick
This is another from the same series as above (“Voices Are Not for Yelling“). It’s another behavior-driven book so it’s more about how to be prepared to listen than what to listen to. But, for toddlers this is a good skill to teach. Great for a classroom.
(More on what environmental sounds are and why they’re great for getting toddlers to talk.)
The Noisy Garage by Dennis R. Shealy
This is a really cute Little Golden Book that’s all about the sounds a car make – like trucks “rat-tat-tattle!” For a child who’s more interested in cars than animals this would be a great book to get them making sounds.
Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
This is a short but fun book all about environmental sounds. Water drips and drops, clocks go tick tock and of course the cow says moo. The board book version is compact and is available in multiple languages.
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!: A Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis
This book covers all the sounds in a neighborhood from a squeaky door, a noisy mouse, and instruments like drums and a trumpet. Marsalis is a world-famous trumpet player and this book blends his upbringing in New Orleans with his life as a musician.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do you Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Books about animal sounds tend to cover farm animals and this one gets into more variety like hippos, peacocks, and zebras. You could easily turn this book into a game of “what do you hear?”
Bow Wow! Meow! A First Book of Sounds by Melanie Bellah
Bow Wow! Meow! is a classic Little Golden Book (1963) that goes through a list of animals and the sound each makes. It’s very simple and may be good for very young children or early readers.