Where the Wild Things Are
Dr. Seuss - Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, One Fish Two Fish, etc.
Frog and Toad series (Arnold Lobel)
The Giant Jam Sandwich
Curious George series
The Icky Sticky Frog
We've been reading these to him for over a year.
I think it's important to remember that it's okay to read books that are "over their heads" a bit. That's how they develop language skills and grow their vocabulary. Let your child pick the story and read it night after night if that's what they want. It can be maddening to read the same book for two weeks, but they are engaged in reading and literacy is such a gift! Eventually their language skills develop to where you can have an actual conversation about what you're reading which develops their analytical skills. It's great to see kids soak up knowledge!
Is Goodnight Nola by the people who do a series of "Good Night ______"? We have "Good Night North Carolina" and "Good Night Ocean" that just have to be looked at every night before bed. I won't say that we read them because I refuse to say "Good morning, sea lions and sea otters! So nice to see you!" but I ad lib commentary. My DS adores them.
My almost-2 loves this "100 Animals" book with, you guessed it, 100 different kinds of animals in it, and all sorts of books with pictures to identify. He likes the slide and find type too. I refuse to buy "character" books like Dora, etc. so I don't know if he would like those or not.
I just love Caroline Kenedy's compilation: A Family of Poems. Lovely poetry and amazing illustrations. Not a cutesy-kiddy-teehee book, but one that will be enjoyable for parents to read to their children and for children to listen to and read themselves for many years to come.
I LOVED Richard Scary and Bill Peet when I was a kid.
We used Bill Peet books to teach my little brother to read, and he's buying everything the man wrote so he'll have a set for his own kids. If you haven't read any of them, start with "Cowardly Clyde"--he's a horse.
For that two year old age, I really like the Doctor Seuss' Go Dog Go and Green Eggs and Ham. You can read them in a very interactive way with one kid or a small group - and it's really a lot of fun. These are such great books to draw the kid into them and have them participate.
A little later: I see that Shel Silverstein isn't mentioned yet. His books of short poems are great, especially Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses is my all time favorite kids book. It's such a wonderful story, and there are great illustrations. Jan Brett is a great author and illustrator, her other books are all good too.
Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever
Ditto the fun Boynton board books, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scary.
Our kiddos all loved a book of classic nursery rhymes, which are fun and rhythmic and easy to memorize. And a little less classic, but Clifford (the Big Red Dog) books! Lots of stories, with really lovely, kind themes.
Also, the Narnia books by CS Lewis. We read them aloud to 3 and 4 year olds, and our kids enjoyed reading them alone later as their reading skills developed.
"And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!"