Back in the day, I was an English literature major. After we got married, Nate and I got in the habit of reading out loud together. We read The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, Twilight, and nonfiction books with important-sounding names like Why You Do The Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships.
These days I’m neither scribbling notes in classic novels or cuddling with Nate on the couch reading the latest fiction series. However, there’s still a lot of time spent reading aloud. We want our girls to love reading, and we know this love starts at a young age. Which is why we’re (usually) happy to read and re-read children’s books—even the ones that drive us crazy. (I’m talking about you, Fox in Socks!)
Since so many of us will spend hours reading the same books over and over and over, I thought I’d save new parents or gift-giving friends the heartache of buying a children’s book that’s painful to read. So the next time you need something for a baby shower, birthday, or baby’s first Christmas, check this list.
As always, Amazon affiliate links included for your convenience.
Best Baby Books
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
If our babies had to choose one and only one book to read each day, this would be it. At our house, the “pop like a cork” motion from this book has become our personal sign for “Hey, Mom and Dad! I want to read!” This book encourages motion, engagement, and sound effects, which are fun for babies and parents.
Little Golden Book’s Baby Farm Animals
I credit this book for teaching our girls animal noises at a very early age. The pages are paper, so it’s not one we leave on the shelf at baby’s level. Additionally, we don’t actually read it right away. We simply flip through the pages, talk about the animals, and make the animal noises. Now, at thirteen months, our baby knows what sounds sheep, cows, dogs, and cats make thanks to this book.
Little Master Shakespeare by Jennifer Adams
There are classics for babies? Genius! (I did mention I was an English major nerd, right?) Do babies get the plots? Of course not! But I feel smart and sophisticated when I read a counting book that even loosely parallels Romeo and Juliet. More importantly, I think the classics are classic for a reason. I want to expose my children to them as early as possible.
Baby Touch and Feel Texture Books
Textured books are great for engaging babies in books. My girls love stroking furry sheep, patting bunnies, and rubbing their fingers over a snake’s scales or a fuzzy blanket. Perhaps the original texture book (and perpetual baby favorite) is Pat the Bunny. That book is older than I am. Way older, actually. It was first published in 1940. But it’s popular for a reason. For added texture fun, check out this post on how to make your own texture cards.
Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton
Eyes & Nose, Fingers & Toes–BARGAIN!
I’ve included a link to amazon, but you really should check your local dollar store first if you want to buy this book. Several of the different dollar chains in our area offer these “Sesame Beginnings” board books. This is our favorite. We go through the silly rhyme and do all of the motions that the book suggests. It’s a quick, fun, interactive read.
Experts say that singing to babies helps with language development. Through your singing, your baby hears different sounds, pitches, rhythm, rhyme, and the cadence of your language. Some studies even suggest that singing makes babies physically healthier. As they get older, songs help kids with transitions and remembering instructions. Other books to encourage singing include: Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and If You’re Happy and You Know It.
Baby Signs by Joy Allen
I will always remember the first time our baby signed “more,” and the memory makes me smile every time. Now that our baby is a little older, we use a few basic signs to help prevent frustration and clear up confusion. I have a real-life friend with triplets who is big into baby signs–understandable since, you know, SHE HAS TRIPLETS. She suggests you also check out BabySigns.com and the baby signing videos available on YouTube.
Like songs, the rhymes and repetition in nursery rhymes help with language development. They’re also an important way we pass on our oral traditions and heritage. These books are great for grandparents to read since they probably have them memorized and have fond memories of reading them to their own children. This particular one is good to incorporate into your bedtime routine.
Personalized Picture Books–BARGAIN!
We are obsessed with these homemade books. Babies love pictures of themselves, and these are so easy and cheap to make. We’ve made a few– parts of the body, family members. My sister-in-law made one filled with “actions” for our oldest daughter’s birthday one year. Tutorial in this post: Personalized Picture Books for Baby.
Is your favorite baby book included on this list? If not, leave me a message on our Nothing if Not Intentional facebook wall! I would love to make a second post with reader recommendations!