I don’t know about you, but some of my fondest childhood memories are being tucked up warm in bed, listening to my Mom read me a good story.
Those early shared reading experiences are so precious for both parent and child.
As a kid, you can’t beat the magic of storytime. What’s not to love about being transported to distant worlds, following interesting characters on wild and exciting adventures, all while safe and warm in the company of those you love? (Take me back!)
For a parent, the experience is just as magical. It’s an opportunity to go back and revisit beloved stories from your own childhood. It’s one of those sacred parent-child rituals that you only get to experience briefly before they inevitably grow up.
Everyone has their personal favorites, but we’ve done our best to compile as many of the most popular baby books as possible.
We’ve split our recommendations into the following sections to make it a bit easier to find what you’re looking for:
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO READ TO BABIES
Besides it being a wonderful time to bond with your child and help them to appreciate the wonder of books, there are many science-backed reasons to start reading to your baby right from day one:
1. LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Although your little one can’t read yet, or even understand what you are saying most of the time, they are able to pick up on tone, inflections and even rhythm in your voice when you read to them. This is a great help to prepare them for later on in life when they begin to read.
In fact, one very recent study involving adopted children showed that babies build knowledge about the language they hear even in the first few months of life. ‘This finding indicates that useful language knowledge is laid down in [the] very early months of life” – Dr. Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University in Seoul.
2. SHAPE & PATTERN RECOGNITION
Most baby books have very big, bright, bold images in them, providing valuable visual stimulation in the critical first few months. The simple imagery will help your child start to recognize basic objects, shapes, and patterns.
3. MATH SKILLS
Study after study has shown that babies whose parents have read to them on a regular basis not only have better language development but also have more advanced mathematical skills, helping them to cope better at school later on in life.
4. FOCUS & PATIENCE
Many children struggle with very short attention spans. By reading to them regularly from a very young age, you teach your child how to concentrate on one thing for a substantial period of time. When you begin they will most likely become very restless within the first few minutes, but as you persevere, your baby will learn to sit still and enjoy the time spent with you.
5. NURTURING IMAGINATION
One of the most wonderful things that books do is help to develop a child’s imagination. This will prove extremely beneficial later on in life when they need to start with creative writing and problem-solving.
Although you may think it’s a bit useless at this stage, and you might feel a bit silly doing it; many professionals recommend that you start reading to your baby as soon as possible.
WHAT MAKES THE IDEAL BABY BOOK?
Safe & Durable
Babies can be destructive little things and so when you are looking for a book to buy your little one, make sure to get a board book or a soft fabric book as these can withstand being chewed and sucked on.
Simple, bold imagery
Images that are big and bright are ideal as they will hold your baby’s attention for longer.
Make sure that the plot is simple and not too long winded; children are notorious for their short attention spans.
Something else to look out for is tactile elements. There are some really lovely books out these days that incorporate different textures on the pages for your baby to touch and feel, helping to make reading an even more sensory experience for them.
OUR OVERALL TOP 10 BOOKS TO READ TO BABIES
With millions of devoted fans all over the world, here are our absolute must-have baby books:
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes – Mem Fox
- More, More, More Said the Baby: Three Love Stories – Vera Williams
- Corduroy – Don Freeman
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
- Close Your Eyes – Kate Banks
- Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
- Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney
- Goodnight Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann
- Love You Forever – Robert Munsch
- Time To Get Dressed! – Elivia Savadier
If you have other favorites please share in the comments!
BOOKS FOR NEWBORNS – UNDER 6 MONTHS
At this age, what you read to your baby isn’t as important as the fact that you’re reading to them at all. Your newborn baby won’t understand the words, but they will understand who they’re coming from.
Any of the recommendations on this page would make a great starting point for a newborn baby. Even though they won’t comprehend the meaning at this stage, they will benefit from the familiarity as they slowly begin to make more sense of the world.
Having said that, there are some books that lend themselves to this very early stage especially well.
Here are the best books for newborn babies:
An absolute classic originally published in 1962 (so possibly older than many of the new parents reading this!) but fondly remembered by many. This book focusses on the biggest concern of new parents: sleep! Full of rhyme and singsong verse – it’s the perfect soundtrack for getting your little one off to the land of nod.
Why we love it: It’s deliberately silly and nonsensical fun even for grown-ups, so it’s ideal for newborns who can’t make much sense of anything at this stage anyway!
Other noteworthy suggestions:How a Baby Grows – Nola Buck Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – Bill Martin Jr.
BEST BOOKS FOR 1-YEAR-OLDS
When you first introduce books to your child, it’s important that it isn’t overwhelming for them. Aim to make reading as enticing for them as you can. Go for big books with bold, colorful pictures. Text that rhymes or has a “singing” tone to it is also a great idea.
- That’s Not My… – Fiona Watt
A wonderful texture book about a little white mouse searching for her dragon, frog, dog and even robot. There are 33 titles in the “That’s Not My…” series and so you can build your child’s collection as they grow.
Why we love it: The texture element is absolutely wonderful and really help with sensory development.
- I Kissed the Baby – Mary Murphy
If you are preparing your little one for the arrival of a sibling, this is a great book to invest in. It tells the tale of all of the farm animals in the barn sharing their excitement over the new arrival.
Why we love it: The rhyming and repetition in this book make it a sure-fire win with tiny tots. There is also the opportunity to interact when the book speaks about tickling and kissing.
- Peepo – Janet and Allan Ahlberg
An oldie but a goodie! This interactive book lets baby see things from their point of view and then allows them to see the full picture by turning the page. It incorporates everyday scenes such as the park or kitchen, that you and your child will recognize.
Why we love it: If your little one has only just started reading with you and is still a bit restless, this interactive book will keep them entertained.
- Oscar’s Half Birthday – Bob Graham
When Oscar turns six months old, his whole family decided to celebrate. As the reader, you get to follow along on their day and see what they get up to.
Why we love it: The fact that Oscar and his family do not live in the stereotypical home with a manicured garden and dog helps to show diversity to your child. Graham is also able to write with humor that will not only make your child laugh, but you might have a giggle yourself.
- In the Bath – Leslie Patricelli
Follow this super cute little baby from being dirty to hopping into the bath and having fun.
Why we love it: Simple text and bright colors make this a wonderful book to read. And if your little one is hesitant about the bath, this will show them how wonderful it can be.
BEST BOOKS FOR TODDLERS – 1-3 YEARS
Now that your child is used to reading time, you can start to introduce books with a more interesting story line. Nothing too overly complicated, you want your tot to be able to follow along! It’s still a good idea to select books that have colorful pictures as this is often what keeps your child’s attention.
- We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
Follow a father and his four children on their day out full of fun.
Why we love it: This is a wonderful book to encourage participation from your child when they sing their songs. They are catchy and soon your little one will be singing it from the tops of their lungs.
- Yummy Yucky – Leslie Patricelli
What a fun book all about opposites. The little boy in the book tried everything from spaghetti to sand!
Why we love it: Now that your child is starting to feed themselves properly, this is a great tool to educate them on what is food and what isn’t.
- Counting Kisses – Karen Katz
You’re bound to get lots of cuddles when reading this book to your tot! The whole family joins in on putting a fussy baby to sleep with lots of kisses.
Why we love it: The book incorporates counting in the most delightful way, encouraging numeracy skills in your child.
- Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
What a classic! I’m sure most of us can remember our parents reading this to us when we were little.
Why we love it: With its sing-song rhythm and catchy lines, your child will absolutely love this book.
- How I Became a Pirate – Melinda Long
Every kid’s dream and especially because pirates don’t eat vegetables. But Jeremy soon discovers that they also don’t get tucked in at night or any bedtime stories.
Why we love it: This is a heartwarming story and your child can really use their imagination thinking up all of the adventures they would get up to as a pirate.
SOFT / CLOTH BABY BOOKS
Although most baby books are board books, the most ideal are soft, or cloth books. Not only is there very little chance of your little one tearing out the pages, or getting nasty papercuts, but they offer a very tactile experience which is great for curious developing minds. These kinds of books are more than capable of withstanding your little one’s destructive tendencies.
- Baby’s First Book – Fiona Watt
Ten pages of flaps, colors and fun discoveries for baby. There is one for little boys full of sail boats and tractors, while the girl’s version has bunnies and butterflies.
Why we love it: Bright colors and fun pictures make this book a must-have.
- Jungly Tails – Jellycat
This soft book has a twist – a literal tail! It is wonderfully interactive and full of sensory fun.
Why we love it: More bright colours and the “taglet” design makes this a whole new book experience for your child
- Good Night, Teddy – Fancesca Ferri
This bedtime cloth book comes with a miniature teddy bear dressed in pajamas. Each page has a different scene from the day, such as a mealtime and teddy can be inserted into each scenario.
Why we love it: This is such a lovely interactive book than encourages your tot to talk about their day while reading about the teddy’s day.
- The Very Hungry Catepillar Rag Book – Eric Carle
Follow a very hungry caterpillar eat his way through an apple and subsequently become a butterfly.
Why we love it: This rag book has crinkle sections as well as a plastic spine to encourage tactile development.
- Baby Soft Activity Book, My First Word Book – TotMart
This 22 page book will keep your tot entertained for absolute ages with all of it’s bright colours and pictures.
Why we love it: This soft book was made specifically for the age group 1-3 years and has tons of fun features to encourage learning.
SOUND & MUSICAL BABY BOOKS
This 22 page book
BABY BOOK SETS
Perhaps you’re looking to buy a set of baby books to kick-start your little one’s new library. Don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
PERSONALIZED BABY BOOKS
This is the ultimate book to give your child, one that they will treasure for years to come. By adding their name and often photograph to a well-loved childrens book, you make your child the star of the show! Here are some websites where you can purchase a personalized baby book:
If you have other must-read favorites we’ve missed please share in the comments below!