Indulge me if you will. Imagine for a moment your child sixteen years from now.
She is an intelligent girl and diligent when it comes to her homework. Over the last few months, she has been working flat out on her latest STEM assignment and built a small robot from scratch. She has finally completed this onerous task and is pretty exhausted. All she wants to do is flop on the sofa while eating junk.
Can you picture her in your mind?
Good, I have a question to ask you
So your daughter, let’s call her Freya.
Since Freya has been putting her all into her assignment, you’re happy for her to relax a little. But when it comes down to her relaxing & doing something that takes her mind of school work in general and that pesky robot in particular, would you prefer her to:
1. Eat pizza while spending hours gaming with other gamers ( i.e. strangers) online.
2. Put on lots of makeup while creating contouring tutorials for her followers on youtube?
3. Stay on that sofa and pick out a book from your well-stocked bookshelf and immerse herself in a great story.
If you picked the third option, then please keep reading.
Because the passage to lifelong reading starts when your child is still a baby, and baby books are at the center of this journey (for want of a better word).
The three benefits of reading baby books with your baby
But before we dive into our round-up of baby books, here’s why you should take up a daily habit of reading with your baby. According to researchers, such as The American Academy of Pediatrics and many educators, the great benefits of reading with babies include:
- stronger reading habits
- early exposure to spoken words and sounds-which will form the basis of her language and literacy development
- gaining a feel for reading by pointing, touching and looking-these skills will help her develop social development and thinking skills
Also, the late and great Dorothy Butler of Why babies need books goes so far in to say,
In my family we have a habit of sending a book for the ‘displaced’ baby. Mr Gumpy’s Outing for Jane and Timothy when he is old enough, is of much more use in a delicate family situation than a pair of bootees!”
In fact, by saying this, she is prioritizing baby books over something that would keep baby’s feet warm-in certain situations.
How do you foster a life long reader?
So when we prefer our 16-year-old Freya choosing a book over other ways to relax it’s easy to realize why we need to start her interest in the act of reading way before she can even spell out her first word.
But how do we do this? Well, we have put together a guide for you. Have a look at 8 easy ways to foster reading habits in your baby, and find out how to easily incorporate great reading habits in your daily life for you and baby.
Great, now we have established why you should be reading with your baby, let’s go to the what. Which kind of baby books should you take on your baby’s reading adventure?
My advice for now? Go for format.
How to pick the best baby books
When your baby is still young, she wants to feel stuff, so books with texture are ideal to start you off. There are lots of baby books out there who meet this requirement. I have made a list of books that our children (literally) devoured, and for good reasons. Some of those I only used for the first few months, but they were great baby books to get our babies started. Others were a pleasure to read, (and this is a litmus test) even after picking it up every day for months at a time.
A great first book for baby, with bold drawings in black and white-providing plenty of contrast for a new baby to develop her eyesight.
Age range: 0-1, but great for very young babies
The overall message of the book: this book is all about creating a good bedtime ritual for your baby, with its central storyline of little bunny getting ready for bed after a very busy day.
Why your baby will love this baby book: baby books for younger babies are often illustrated in black and white. This is no coincidence, as in the first year of your baby’s life she will still have limitations in her vision, and images with high contrast will draw her in and stimulate her. Also, the shiny foil will attract her attention while you’re reading this to her.
If you’re looking for a book to follow on from the book above, this one is it. Illustrated in high contrast colors and black and white, this book features faces for baby to focus on. If you’re looking to stimulate baby for tummy time, you can even open up the gatefold ending and stand it up around your baby, while she’s on her tummy.
Age range: for the first few months.
The overall message of the book: as this is created for very small babies, it doesn’t have much of a storyline, however, it does feature familiar faces of mum, dad, and grandparents; creating a sense of the world around her.
Why your baby will love this baby book: great for baby’s brain development due to the high contrast pictures, the peepholes, and the flaps. The mirror at the end of the book will captivate your baby no end. It’s also a great book, to stand up upright in her cot to entertain her for a few minutes.
This classic book belongs on every child’s bookshelf. Though published more than fifty years ago in 1969, it has a very modern and timeless look about it, thanks to its vivid and colorful illustrations. Translated in more than 60 languages, it has sold nearly 50 million copies worldwide.
Age range: this book is aimed at the age range 2-7, but you can certainly read this with your baby.
The overall message of the book: while the overall narrative of the book is about transformation, this can be used as a story about starting out young and hungry and growing up to be a beautiful adult. Along the way, readers will learn: how to count, colors, the days of the week, names of fruit and vegetables and even foods that aren’t so good for you.
Why your baby will love this baby book: drawn in by its striking illustrations, she will adore this story. Also, she will be captivated by poking her finger through the page and feel the actual caterpillar.
ps: both the 50th anniversary Golden Edition or the Very Hungry Caterpillar 50th Birthday Plush and Print Set would make a great gift for a baby shower.
Another classic book, from a very well regarded writer and illustrator-Dick Bruna. In his native country-The Netherlands Dick Bruna is revered for his wide range of Miffy (Nijntje) books. Most Dutch parents have grown up with this omnipresent white rabbit, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Dutch nursery without a miffy character or book gracing it. There is even a Nijntje Museum in Dick Bruna’s birthplace of Utrecht.
Like the timeless caterpillar, it’s hard to believe Miffy came to life in the 1950s/60s. Simply drawn in primary colors, Miffy’s creator set out to write books for babies and children, not for their parents.
Age range: this book is aimed at the age range 0-1 and 1-2
The overall message of the book: along with you, your baby will explore a sunny day at the farm with Miffy in 18 pages. She will get a feel for the various farm animals, and the sounds they make.
Why your baby will love this baby book: your baby will love this sturdy touch and feel flap book. She can literally get a feel for all the animals by feeling the texture of their fur, from the wooly sheep to the fluffy duckling; she will learn lots about farm animals.
ps if you’re looking for a stylish gift for a new baby or a 1st birthday gift, look no further than Miffy. A great present would be this plush Miffy doll embracing her teddybear.
Our third must-have baby book. This is a beautifully written book about the joy new babies bring to the world by acclaimed author Mem Fox. In addition Helen Oxenbury, of ‘We’re going on a bear hunt‘ has illustrated lots of different babies from all parts of the world, celebrating inclusivity throughout the book.
Age range: this book is written for age 2, but babies love this book.
The overall message of the book: this book celebrates diversity and different ethnicities, by focusing on babies from a wide array of different backgrounds.
Why your baby will love this baby book: the text is set up in easy to follow and easy to repeat rhymes. They only change at the end when a new baby gets introduced to the world), and ends up talking about kisses on the nose-which you can follow up with by kissing your baby on the nose. So after a couple of readings, your baby will know what to expect and look forward to the kisses; he’ll have great fun every time you pick up the book. Our babies loved this book for a long time, counting the fingers and toes was great fun for them as they got a bit older.
A multi-generational classic, this is a wonderful bedtime book by Margaret Wise Brown. Featuring lovely calming and cute illustrations by Clement Hurd. Published in 1947; so a childhood staple for many generations.
Age range: 0-3
The overall message of this baby book: this book features a small bunny rabbit who appears to say goodnight to all the objects and pets in his room. It shows your baby the importance of rituals; as the rabbit can only go to sleep once he has said goodbye to everyone and everything, like children so often do. It also touches on innocence, as the only world that counts is the rabbit’s home, and the outside world doesn’t get a look in.
Why your baby will love this baby book: with its simple rhyming text and the colorful, but realistic illustrations, your baby will be intrigued by this simple, yet classic bedtime story. The rhyming text is a great way of preparing babies for reading themselves.
Also, it provided babies and young children with a sooting text before bedtime, whereby they are introduced to a bedtime ritual. This could help children who find going off to sleep by themselves scary to relax into going to bed.
ps, want to add to your baby’s bedtime? Try this book and bunny edition instead, and your baby will always have a nighttime friend to help her go to sleep soundly.
A nursery classic, beautifully illustrated (using his famous collages) by Eric Carle from The very hungry caterpillar and written in a lovely rhythmic pattern by the renowned poet and writer Bill Martin Jr.
Age range: 2-5, but thanks to the colorful illustrations and rhythm it deserves this rightful place in our line up of best baby books
The overall message of the book: this book’s repetitive structure brings helps teach infants all the colors and meanings to different objects by introducing the young reader to lots of different animals: Brown Bear, followed by Red Bird, Yellow Duck, Blue Horse, Green Frog, Purple Cat, White Dog, Black Sheep, Goldfish, Teacher, and Children.
Why your baby will love this baby book: The repetitiveness and the rhyming structure of the book will make it comfortably predictable for your baby, and above all, she will love Eric Carle’s stunning illustrations. It has been said that he has made them so deceptively simple so that children can imagine making them themselves.
Who doesn’t love Peter Rabbit? This great texture book aimed at babies is based on some of Beatrix Potter’s most loved characters.
The English natural scientist, illustrator & writer grew up in the countryside being homeschooled by governesses away from other children but surrounded by lots of animals. She spent her childhood observing animals and obsessively drawing them which resulted in some of the nations’ best-loved animal characters.
Age range: 0-3 years old
The overall message of the book: this baby book doesn’t contain many words, and is more of a format book. It is, however, based on the original Peter Rabbit story, which follows a children’s story template of adventure and danger. Also, there are five lessons to be learned from this heady tale of adventure: dream big, eat vegetables, don’t ever give up, chamomile tea will cure most ails and always listen to your mother. Life can’t really go wrong when you follow those wise words.
Why your baby will love this baby book: This soft cloth book with its floppy ears will be a joy for your baby to hold on to herself. There is plenty of texture in the book which your baby will love.
‘I love you to the moon and back‘ – this iconic phrase has become part of popular culture since this book was first published in 1994. Written by Sam McBratney and beautifully illustrated by Anita Jeram, this enchanted book tells the story of Little Nutbrown Hare and his father Big Nutbrown Hare trying to express how much they love each other.
Age range: 2, but can be read to older babies before bedtime
The overall message of the book: this book is all about the unconditional love parents have for their children; this tender tale will instill feelings of love and security in your child every time you read it to them.
Why your baby will love this baby book: your baby will feel cherished every time he is read to-for years to come. This sweet and simple story, combined with the gorgeous watercolor illustration will have your baby captivated. The story between father and son makes it a great book for baby and daddy bedtime too.
ps, are you buying this baby book as a gift for a new born? Add this bunny to make your gift extra thoughtful.
This well-loved book by babies and preschoolers is written by Rod Campbell and has sold over two million copies worldwide. It features different animals, covered by flaps for babies and toddlers to open.
Age range: 1-3, though it can be read to babies, who will love open the flaps once they get a bit older
The overall message of the book: this is simply written with a great sense of humor. The book aims to teach children about different animals, how they have different characteristics and how they need to be looked after.
Why your baby will love this book: he will love this book for years to come. They will love seeing the different animals behind the flaps and they will appreciate the sense of humor weaved into the text. The illustrations are bright, simple, and quirky and very appealing for its young audience. You’ll find your baby giggling to this in no time.
Questions other parents asked about reading with baby
I hope you found this line up of baby books useful. If you are wondering how to best read with your baby, or have any lingering questions about your baby’s reading journey check out our FAQ below.
Why should I start reading early with my baby?
If you are wondering why you should start baby on these baby books at an age where she can’t even read yet, have a look at our post on how to foster a life long reader.
How should I read to my baby?
Make sure you find a quiet place to sit with your baby. Don’t forget to turn off the radio, tv and put your phone away so you won’t be distracted by any incoming messages. Your baby needs to hear your voice loud and clear. Cuddle your baby while you read to him, and he will always associate reading with safe and cozy times. Use funny voices to keep your baby captivated and don’t be afraid to inject some play into your reading time.
Will books make my baby smarter?
According to research done by Kimberly Giuliano, MD, of Cleveland Clinic Children, engaging your baby in early reading now will play dividents when they grow up. She argues that the more we engage our brains actively in reading, the better children do academically, the longer their attention spans are, and the more success they’re likely to have in school, said Dr. Giuliano.
Can I not just let her watch a screen instead?
In this world where some children as young as 4 months have been introduced to a mobile device, this isn’t such an unusual question. But while baby may seem to like it, letting baby watch a screen is like giving him junk food for his brain, according to David L. Hill, MD, FAAP, Vice President of Cape Fear Pediatrics in Wilmington, NC. At such a young age, baby can’t make sense of what he sees on a screen, as he only learns from people in the world around him. Reading with him, while letting him touch the book provides him with a great means of interacting with you rather than passively watching a screen.
When should I start reading with my baby
Ideally from the first months, when she starts opening her eyes a bit more. In those first months, she will start focusing on images, so start her off with our first two baby books and you’re good to go.