20 Best Baby Books For Their First Library

Next time you visit your baby’s doctor, you may get a somewhat surprising prescription: Reading.

Yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently recommended that doctors encourage parents to read aloud to children every day starting as early as birth(!) and continuing up until kindergarten and beyond.

How reading helps children

According to the AAP report, reading aloud to babies and young kids is one of the most effective ways to foster early literacy skills. And early, consistent parent-child reading is a key factor responsible for eventual reading success.

But not enough kids are reading

Also according to the report, more than one third of children in the USA start kindergarten unequipped with the literacy skills they need.

We’re big readers at our house, but still. This is a wakeup call.

We read several books aloud with Griffin every night before bedtime. But our squirrely seven-month old Paloma? Not so much. But that’s about to change – both because of this study, and because she’s just getting old enough to engage with a book.

So it’s time to dust off some of our best baby books, including the titles listed below.

20 best baby books for your little one’s first library

Who Said Moo
Who Said Moo?

It really doesn't get much better than this classic flap book that explores animal noises through repetitive text and colorful images.

— Check it Out —
Who Said Moo
Pete the Cat
Pete the Cat

Nobody's cooler than Pete the Cat in this first (and best) book of the series, and the lesson about rolling with life's curveballs is valuable for everyone, even parents 😉

— Check it Out —
Pete the Cat
I Love You Through And Through
I Love You Through And Through

I actually bought this book for Mike back when we were dating, so it holds a special place in my heart 🙂 It has cute illustrations and a simple story that every kid can love.

— Check it Out —
I Love You Through And Through
My Big Animal Book
My Big Animal Book

I read this book hundreds of times with baby Griffin. When kids are really young, picture books like this are usually more engaging than stories. As a bonus, it helps cultivate a love of animals.

— Check it Out —
My Big Animal Book
First 100 Animals
First 100 Animals

Another awesome, colorful book to teach kids about animals. Definitely a staple in the first couple years of my son's life. Bonus: it's available used on Amazon for $.01.

— Check it Out —
First 100 Animals
First 100 Words
First 100 Words

Similar to the 100 Animals book, this one's packed with colorful photos that will build your little one's vocabulary and teach them about their world.

— Check it Out —
First 100 Words
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

There's a reason why this book is on just about every kid's book shelf. A classic by the master of children's stories.

— Check it Out —
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Guess How Much I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You

When you're in that new baby bliss, it can be a struggle to express just how head-over-heels you are for your child. That's the dilemma these adorable rabbits hares face.

— Check it Out —
Guess How Much I Love You
Good Night, Gorilla
Good Night, Gorilla

A super cute story told almost entirely in pictures, this one's great for very little kids. Also perfect for kids who love animals.

— Check it Out —
Good Night, Gorilla
Are You My Mother.
Are You My Mother?

A classic tale of a baby bird looking for his mother. The book helps build babies' vocabularies and recall by building and repeating a series of phrases throughout the story.

— Check it Out —
Are You My Mother.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I dare you to get through parenting without knowing what that brown bear sees. This is a wonderful story for very young kids, told mainly through photos.

— Check it Out —
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See
The Frog and Toad Collection
The Frog and Toad Collection

Your babies will have to get a little bit older to enjoy this series, but once they do, your whole family will fall in love with these sweet and magical tales about friendship.

— Check it Out —
The Frog and Toad Collection
Fox in Socks
Fox in Socks

This Dr. Seuss classic jumped out as our son's first favorite book! Packed cover-to-cover with crazy tongue twisters, it's a fun read for the parent too. 🙂

— Check it Out —
Fox in Socks
First big book of Dinosaurs
First Big Book of Dinosaurs

There isn't a book on my son's shelf that is more tattered from repeated readings than this one. It's all about the big glorious dino pictures, with almost no violent or scary scenes.

— Check it Out —
First big book of Dinosaurs
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster

Our favorite Mo Willems book by far. Leonardo is a terrible monster because he can't scare anyone! There was a six-month period where my son had every word in this book memorized.

— Check it Out —
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster
The Berenstain Bears and the Baby Chipmunk
The Berenstain Bears and the Baby Chipmunk

The Berenstain Bears are another favorite in our house, although some titles are definitely better than others. My son still talks about Papa Bear getting bit on the leg in this one. "Yip-Yow!"

— Check it Out —
The Berenstain Bears and the Baby Chipmunk
Where's Spot (Little Spot Board Book)
Where’s Spot (Little Spot Board Book)

What childhood would be complete without Spot? These lift-the-flap books help get kids engaged with reading.

— Check it Out —
Where's Spot (Little Spot Board Book)
I Spy A Book of Picture Riddles
I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles

These visual puzzles encourage your child to concentrate, explore, and really engage with a book. The hidden object scenes are so dense that I still see new things, even years after first reading them.

— Check it Out —
I Spy A Book of Picture Riddles
It's Not Easy Being a Bunny
It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny

Another timeless tale about being yourself. The formula of short, repeating text helps kids stay with the story, and the moral is spot-on.

— Check it Out —
It's Not Easy Being a Bunny
Horton Hatches the Egg
Horton Hatches the Egg

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant is faithful, one hundred per cent!” Written in expert rhyming verse, this book is Dr. Seuss' crowning achievement, IMO. The part with the hunters is dated for sure, but it's a brief blip in an otherwise classic book.

— Check it Out —
Horton Hatches the Egg

How about you?

Are any of these titles among your favorites?

What best baby books would you recommend?

How often do you read to your children? And at what age did you start?

Share with us in the comments below!

Make your home safer and more natural

36 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. My 18 month old love All of Baby Nose to Toes and Dear Zoo. Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. My kids love the pre-K Bob books atm and we love the hot rod hamster books as well. We read about and watch dvds about a hamster called hamtaro too. The hamtaro books have many stories in each book. They are great for my 4 and 5 year olds. My 1 and 2 year olds can’t get into them yet though. To many words and not enough pictures for them yet lol

  3. My 3 year old has memorized the following books and “reads” them to me:
    One Drowsy Dragon, The Very Cranky Bear, The Gruffalo.
    He also loves: The day the crayons quit, Snuggle Puppy, The Gruffalo’s child, The Grannyman, Bony Legs (maybe scary for some kids), Bits and Pieces and How do Dinosaurs love their cats. It’s so cute to hear him say words to me like rambunctious and croquet from One Drowsy Dragon.

  4. Books that are a must read!

    Big Plans, Oh Daddy Bob Shea
    Pete the Cat Life Lessons and Wheels on the Bus
    Pigeon needs a bath
    Toots
    Underpants Thunderpants

  5. We love “Caps For Sale” and “Harold and the Purple Crayon” in addition to many of the suggestions previously mentioned.

    • Oh and “Ferdinand the Bull”

  6. The Frog and Toad stories were priceless for my brothers and I when growing up, and The Bernstein Bears were much loved as well. I just bought these two sets a few months ago in anticipation of my baby’s arrival, and I simply cannot wait to read them to him!

  7. My absolute favorite to read at Signing Story Time is “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle! AND I love The Napping House. Two simple books that do have a message for the littlest book lover.

  8. Goodnight moon!! And Danny and the dinosaur by sid hoff was a favorite when I was little.

    • Danny and the Dinasour!!! OMG, I forgot about that one. My brothers and I would read that one on a daily basis! And because we didn’t know the word “museum” at the time (we were little foreign kids) we used to read “Danny went to the mustard”… lol, I was always confused as to what that meant!

  9. I really wasn’t read to all that much when I was little, yet I could still read at a very early age. I went into pre-K with fluent reading skills, while classmates next year in Kindergarten couldn’t read at all. I did go to a very good pre-K/Kindergarten though, so I do attribute some of my success to that.

  10. We started reading to Sam at about 8 weeks old. He absolutely loves Dr. Seuss, here are his favorites.

    Hop On Pop
    The Foot Book
    Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You
    Dr. Seuss’s ABC
    Fox In Sox

  11. When I was little I LOVED Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! Someone got me a board book edition for my baby shower and I read it almost every night to my daughter, sometimes twice! Her first birthday is fast approaching (where did this year go) she will be getting some maracas to join in with the “Chicka Chicka” parts!!

  12. Definitely love the Nancy Tillman books! Started with ‘It’s Time To Sleep, My Love’ and grabbed all the other board books. They’re so beautiful written with such breathtaking illustrations.
    We’ve finally reached a point where I’m not just reading to myself! 😉

  13. I love On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. Her books are so beautiful, and help express the love you feel for your child.

  14. I would add The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. It is a great first bible. And little blue truck…my son and I love this sweet one about how we need one another….we were not designed to live life on our own! Thanks Gen for all you do!

    • We read the Jesus Storybook Bible daily with my 2 year old son! Love it! After dinner my son ask to read the God book.

      • We have the Rhyme Bible Storybook, and it is awesome! Old Testament and New Testament stories, great pictures, and as a pastor and daughter of a kindergarten teacher, I approve both the theology and the poetry. 🙂

  15. The snail and the whale 🙂 and grufflo by Julia Donaldson and anything by Linley Dodd ( the hairy maclary series )

  16. I am a first grade teacher, and a lot of these books are must haves in my classroom library! A few others I recommend:
    The Giving Tree
    Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
    Skippyjon Jones
    The Kissing Hand
    Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type
    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

    There are tons more, but these are the ones my students really love!

  17. My all-time favorite is “Where the Wild Things Are”. I had never read it as a child, but fell in love reading it to others as a nanny- the poetry of the words, the illustrations, the metaphor of the wolf suit and choosing to come back home- LOVE. So much so, I bought a copy and took it to the hospital with me when I gave birth to my daughter and had the nurse stamp her hand and footprints into the title page of it.

  18. We love “Go, Dog, Go”, “I love you stinky face”, “The Monster at the End of This Book”, “Ten little fingers, Ten little toes”, “Sir Kevin of Devon”.

    • My son LOVES I love you stinky face.

  19. Jamberry! So much fun, especially in the summer. And also Ten Little Fingers. So sweet.

  20. We’ve been given the book called “You are Special” written by Max Lucado. It has a great moral lesson about how we were all created unique and only our Creator can judge us. It also has great illustrations. I plan on reading it often to our son, especially when teasing time will come, to make sure he knows just how great he is and how much he is loved just the way he is.

  21. One of my favorites is a book called “Slinky Malinky” about a ridiculously michevious black cat. It can be quite the tongue-twister!

    And of course, Mo Willem’s Pigeon books. Can’t go wrong with those!!!

  22. I have read and heard from elementary school teachers that the best books for babies to learn literacy/speaking/sounds/words and so on are books written by Sandra Boynton. We have several of her books and our baby loves them! She has been writing books for 30 years so there are lots to pick from. Some of our favs. are…

    Moo, Baa, La, La, La
    The Going to Bed Book
    But Not the Hippopotamus
    Fifteen Animals

    There are so many good ones! Check them out..

    • LOVE Sandra Boynton! We read Moo Baa LaLaLa at least once a week, and Barnyard Dance almost as often.

  23. I’ve been expanding my daughters reading library since my son’s books all consisted of Thomas the Train stories. These are great options to add on! She loves Dr Suess books and Roll Over, Roll Over – A counting song book. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Giving Tree and The Velveteen Rabit should be on the list too!

  24. I love reading my kids The Crown on Your Head by Nancy Tillman. It’s beautiful. My 19 mo old loves anything Dr Seuss 🙂

  25. OK, let’s try again
    (I am going to think your website doesn’t like me ^^)
    I have in French “Guess how much I love you” in the pop up edition. It’s a absolutely precious!
    and “The very hungry caterpillar” is the first book I bought myself because I grew up with it!

    • Yeahhhhhh!!!!!! victory!!!!!!!! it’s working!!!!
      (i don’t know if you remember but I email you on facebook a couple months back because I couldn’t find the way to make my comment appear)

  26. Great suggestions! We have a few of these books already. In fact, I caught my 15m “reading” out loud to himself Where’s Spot. It was so dang cute!

    Reading is HUGE in our family. My husband and I are totally book worms and will often spend more time reading than watching TV. So it comes naturally to us to read to our little boy. I read a bit when I was pregnant and then I started bedtime reading to him about 3 months and have continued it every night since then. And on most days we read or look at some sort of book. I even keep a book in his crib.

    Some of our favorites are How Does a Dinosaur Say Goodnight (and any other in the series), Baby Loves to Rock (cute book with fun animal illustrations), and while I didn’t want to like it, my little guy LOVES the Llama Llama books.

    • My baby is 3 months old . which book can I make him see and read to him

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*