Take a moment to imagine yourself sitting on a rocking chair in your baby’s nursery, holding your tiny sweetheart on one arm and a baby book in your other hand. You sway back and forth, singing the rhythmic words of Dr. Seuss to soothe him or her to sleep. Reading to your newborn is one of the most exciting experiences to look forward to as a parent. Reading creates a special bonding moment. It also helps stimulate your infant’s cognitive and language development by introducing sounds, words, and tones.
With 80% of a baby’s brain developing in the first three years of their life, storytime can have a huge impact. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Developmental Practices & Behavioral Pediatrics found that parents who read at least one picture book to their youngsters each day expose them to about 78,000 words a year. Multiply that by five years, and they know close to 1.4 million words by the time they enter kindergarten.
To help you along this reading rainbow with your little one, we’ve compiled the top 20 books to get their library started, from classics to newer titles.
20 Books to Start Your Baby’s Library
A bestselling children’s favorite for three decades! This classic book, written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, brings together all 26 letters for a rhythmic journey of climbing a coconut tree. The pages come to life with bold, exuberant illustrations to keep your baby’s attention alongside its upbeat flow.
This sing-songy book will help your tot practice counting from one to ten in typical Karen Katz fashion. Each page features a baby parading through playtime, bathtime, mealtime, and bedtime. All babies have tired themselves out by the final page and are ready for a full night’s sleep. The bouncy language, adorable graphics, and representation of various ethnicities make this an enjoyable read for all.
Vibrant colors meet paper-collage animals in this iconic Eric Carle children’s book. Like a blue horse to a purple cat and rhyming words, the iconic and unconventional illustrations create an unforgettable experience with each storytime.
Calling all daddies around the world, this one’s for you. Written by Jimmy Fallon, the charming and lovable story takes you through a series of scenarios where animal dads desperately try to get their babies to say “dada” as their first word. Of course, they fail miserably. With each character responding with an animal sound instead, parents can act out the noises as they go along.
Who says little ones can’t appreciate the wonderful world of Pantone? This pack of six chunky board books highlights every color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Each volume features light and dark shades within a color family, providing a stimulating introduction to the shades of the world.
The primary colors merge into a geometric, architectural masterpiece—Frank Lloyd Wright approved—to help babies discover basic shapes. The vivid colors and unique figures will hold your child’s attention and teach them the difference between circles, squares, triangles.
A soft, padded board book filled with hours’ worth of learning for tiny readers. The First 100 Words will help them absorb simple words with corresponding photos. They’ll absorb words within various categories, like food, pets, trucks, clothes, and more.
From happy and sad to angry, surprised, and silly, this expressive board book will help your babe recognize essential facial expressions. With all five nonverbal looks introduced alongside an image of a baby’s face, readers can mimic the same reaction for an engaging experience.
Parent and baby can interact with this playful lift-the-flap book that identifies parts of the body, from head to toe. The peekaboo format will have infants cooing over the joy it brings.
Dr. Seuss’s revered collection deserves a categorization of its own. Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a wise and timeless narrative that can resonate with children no matter how big or small. Parents will appreciate the underlying message of perseverance despite the unpredictability and uncertainty of life. This is a must for any baby’s library.
Expecting mothers, we advise you to wait until your little one is in your arms to read this potential tear-jerker. Author Emily Winfield Martin perfectly expresses the dreams parents have for their children while also celebrating the beauty in a child becoming their own person as they age.
Dive into a sensory realm with Pat the Bunny’s textured materials. Tiny hands can touch the rabbit’s fur and feel a piece of fabric, and put their noses to the book to smell flowers. The popular touch and feel book helps engage your darling’s senses.
This heartwarming book hits all the feels. It will give you the warm fuzzies as a little hare named Little Nutbrown Hare and his big hare dad tries to one-up the other in a sweet competition of how much they love each other.
Your baby’s library won’t be complete without this classic. Known as a circular tale (beginning and ending in the same place), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie follows a series of events when a boy gives a mouse a cookie. The mouse then proceeds to ask for a glass of milk in addition to a laundry list of requests. Kids will love the storyline that unfolds with every page.
No beddy-bye is complete without a reading from my mom or dad of this lasting tale. It creates a lulling tone that prepares your bundle of joy for sleep, with readers saying goodnight to everything in sight in the book, such as the room, moon, stars, lights, and even socks.
A baby library that doesn’t leave space for this generational classic is missing a core component. The acclaimed, stimulating picture book has sold more than 50 million copies globally since it was published in 1969, and rightfully so, as it follows the journey of a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly.
The colorful board book, from California-based bilingual children’s book publisher Lil’ Libros, introduces niños to their first English and Spanish words. Based on Loteria, a game similar to bingo, the picture book highlights the traditional game cards, such as el gallo (the rooster), la luna (the moon), la rosa (the rose), and more.
Teach your kiddo the meanings behind certain crystals, such as amethyst, quartz, and fluorite, to name a few. The new-age board book is great for parents who want their children to learn of positive energies and the mind-body connection from these gems. The Mind-Body Baby collection, published by Imprint, offers additional titles on chakras, zodiac, and meditation.
Get ready for your babies’ and toddlers’ attention to be held. This adventurous lift-the-flap board book makes readers go on a hide-and-seek quest to find young mouse Masie. The interactive flaps provide a peekaboo-like feeling that keeps little ones on their toes.
Boogie down with Gerald the Giraffe, who learns to groove to the beat of his own drum. The encouraging and uplifting tale emphasizes the message that it’s okay to be different, and if people try to discourage you from something, recognize that you can do anything no matter what you’re told.
There are several wonderful books to add to your baby’s library. No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong. The precious moments spent reading together are what you and your baby will always cherish.
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