Reading to your baby from birth is one of the most important things you can do to help your child develop language and grow their literacy skills from a young age. Children who are read to daily from infancy experience stronger parent-child relationships and learn valuable language and literacy skills that better prepare them for kindergarten, research shows.
But let’s face it: a lot of books geared towards young kids are, well, less than interesting for parents, particularly if your child begins asking for a favorite again and again. Don’t worry! There are plenty of books out there that delight parents and kids alike. Here are our top 10 picks for books you’ll actually want to read to your baby. Some of them are geared towards babies, others are books that will grow with your child through toddlerhood — perfect for families with older siblings who want to get in on story time.
I mean, need we say more? This classic has stood the test of time, even if upon reading it as an adult you realize just how weird the story is — who puts their kid to bed with a bowl of mush on the nightstand? The pictures have tons of details to engage older children (ie. can you find the mouse?) and the text focuses on key words for babies and toddlers alike.
Guess How Much I Love You
The gist of this story — a baby bunny, Little Nutbrown Hare, exploring the bounds of love — is captivating for babies and toddlers alike. It’s filled with warmth and tenderness and makes a perfect last book before bed, as it ends with Little Nutbrown Hare realizing his parent’s love for him is endless.
This book is really fun to read, with delightful rhymes and immersive pictures. It’s loosely about a boy who goes berry picking with a bear, but it’s mostly a romp through an imaginary world filled with animals and berries. The rhymes roll off the tongue in an enjoyable way: “raspberry, jazzberry, razamatazzberry…” and the pictures have lots of little details for toddlers to pick out.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Another book full of great rhymes to hold baby’s attention. For toddlers, there’s a great lesson to be had in this story of a giraffe who wants so badly to fit in and be like the other animals, but ultimately learns joy and confidence come when he starts being himself.
I Wish You More
A sweet story for any age about all the things a parent wishes for their child: “I wish you more hugs than ughs”. The text is very simple, allowing the pictures to tell the story with plenty of details for curious toddlers to point out and discuss.
This story was very loosely adapted into several animated movies, but the tongue-in-cheek book is a must-have for new parents. It’s a pretty hilarious (though spot on) portrayal of what happens when you have a baby: “From the moment the baby arrives, it was obvious that he was the boss.” The book goes on to detail all the things the “boss” demands, including drinks made to order 24/7 and minions (aka parents) who answer his every beck and call.
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
Another classic, this story tells a (cautionary) tale about what happens when you give a mouse a cookie. Spoiler alert: he’ll ask for another cookie. And some milk. It’s a bit advanced for a baby, but the story is fairly short and the pictures have great details; it’s sure to become a storytime favorite.
Little ones love books about animals, so throw in different textures to touch, pull-tabs and great rhymes and you’ve got a surefire hit. If your child likes this book, the author Matthew Van Fleet, has a host of others along these lines, including Chomp Goes the Alligator and Lick.
Author Sandra Boynton has written more than X children’s books. We love this one for the fun, sing-songy rhymes and the way the story, about farm animals coming together for a rollicking party in the barnyard, can get tots up and moving. Another good Boynton book to check out: Hippos Go Beserk, about hippos who throw a party gets just a bit out of hand.
Babies love books with flaps and this simple rhyming book asking them to guess different animals is a crowd-pleaser. The end of the book is usually a highlight as it ends asking baby: “Peek A Who?” and then shows baby a mirror where they can see themselves.
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