Want to raise a child who loves to read? Start as early as day one! These board books for babies are a fantastic way to introduce little ones to reading, since they're sturdy enough to withstand little fingers and drooling mouths.
Here are parents' favorite books to read to babies: touch and feel books, sturdy versions of favorite picture books, and even new takes on classic literature! Sharing them with your little one will promote bonding, language development and sensory processing. What's not to love?
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Little Fish: Finger Puppet Book (Little Finger Puppet Book Series)
Hannah Scott: "Little Fish" from the Little Finger Puppet book series by Chronicle Books is a great combination of story and toy. The attached finger puppet pokes through a hole on each page as you read. I particularly like the story -- not because it's a fine piece of literature, but because the text rhymes well and includes lots of different consonant sounds and alliteration. It just feels good to read! (Is that nerdy to say about a board book? Probably. But it's true!).
That's Not My Puppy (Usborne "That's Not My..." Series)
Hannah Scott: One of my biggest issues with textured board books is the lack of variety from page to page. The Touchy-Feely books by Usborne do not have that problem! In this story, each puppy is "not mine" because the texture is off -- "too hairy," "too fluffy," "too shaggy," etc. This board book is also exceptionally high-quality with super thick pages that are resistant to any bending. Win!
Dawn Denning: Where's Spot by Eric Hill is a classic! Read the book and help your little person find Spot all over the place! Flaps are so much fun to open up and see if Spot is behind all the best hiding places around his house. My kids loved to open the flaps and see what's behind each one! Enjoy hours of fun with your sweet baby while they try and find their favorite puppy!
Where Is Baby's Belly Button?
Hannah Scott: The signature brightly colored illustrations of Karen Katz stories are back in this lift-the-flap book about identifying body parts. Once your baby starts reaching out to turn pages, they'll also enjoy lifting flaps to see what's underneath. It's like literary peek-a-boo! We enjoy pointing to the illustrations and then pointing to our own body parts (eyes, nose, etc.) when reading this one together.
Katie G.: One of the best bedtime stories for babies! All three of my kids loved this book from Margaret Wise Brown when they were babies and toddlers. I used to read it to them every single night. Fast forward several years later and I can still recite the book from memory. Babies will love the repetitive poetic words and following the cute, little bunny as he/she says "good night" to all the things in the room. The board book size is perfect for little hands to hold and help turn the pages. Pick this one up and add it to your bedtime routine to help you little one fall fast asleep.
First 100 Words
Hannah Scott: We received this book by Roger Priddy as part of a box of new parent freebies, but I'm so glad it was included! Each two-page spread features a different theme (playing outside, eating, getting dressed, etc.) with photos and vocabulary words that every baby needs to learn. My son was a very late talker, but I really feel like this book helped him make some verbal connections to the everyday items in his life.
Dawn Denning: The Mitten by Jan Brett is about a lost mitten on a cold winter day that provides a home for all the woodland creatures! One by one starting with a mole they crawl into the warm safety of the mitten. The mitten stretches as each new animal crawls in with their friends until a brown bear takes his turn! The illustrations are so beautiful and kept my kids attention with every read.
Lisa R: If you're not familiar with this classic song by Raffi, go listen to it now! Then pick up this adorable book illustrated by Ashley Wolff and you'll find that you can't help but sing the lyrics as you read it. Young children love the adorable pictures of baby sea creatures alongside their parents and will soon know the words on every page. This book is sure to make everyone smile.
Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice
Hannah Scott: If you love classic literature, you MUST check out the Cozy Classics series by Jack and Holman Wang! Each board book features one simple word on each page to tell the story, accompanied by exquisite illustrations done entirely in felt. They're truly works of art that you'll enjoy as much as your child!
Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions
Hannah Scott: Making Faces by Abrams Appleseed is the perfect introduction to emotions and their connected facial expressions. Each page features a different emotion and a photo of a baby making the associated facial expression. The last page has a mirror so your little one can see their own face! I love this book because it's appropriate for very young babies, but it can become more meaningful as they get older and start to be able to mimic those facial expressions when asked. I LOVE seeing my son's surprised face!
Pat the Bunny
Katie G.: Babies will love touching, lifting and scratching the pages in this touch and feel book. This classic book by Dorothy Kunhardt has been around since 1940 and loved by many generations of families. The book takes babies through a series of things to do - pat the bunny, scratch daddy's beard, look in the mirror and more. Babies will love interacting with this fun board book.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Hannah Scott: This story by Bill Martin Jr., accompanied by the incomparable collage artwork of Eric Carle, is a real classic (and also the very first story I ever read to my first baby -- insert tears here). I love this board book edition for babies because it has simple, high-contrast illustrations with an emphasis on color identification, animals, repetition, and alliteration. And I've known of so many other families whose kids couldn't get enough of this one!
In My Nest
Hannah Scott: I confess: I actually like this book by Sara Gillingham more than my baby does. Something about the collage illustrations, the patterns, and the color scheme really does it for me -- not to mention the cute little attached finger puppet who enjoys getting cozy with his family at the end. Melt my heart! When I found out there is actually a whole series of stories featuring different animals in their habitats, I was completely hooked.
Baby Touch and Feel Series
Hannah Scott: The Baby Touch and Feel series features simple photographs with textured patches for baby to feel. I always take my baby's hand in mine and guide his fingers over the textured areas! These books are quite small, so they're perfect to toss in the diaper bag and pull out when you need some quick entertainment while you're out and about.
Emma: A BabyLit Emotions Primer
Hannah Scott: I will never get tired of classics adapted for babies, and the BabyLit primers by Jennifer Adams do not disappoint! This rendition of Jane Austen's classic "Emma" focuses on the emotions that other characters feel after Emma meddles in their lives -- angry, happy, tired, etc. Simple illustrations make this a truly charming book (and an awesome baby shower gift for a literature-loving friend).
Jennie Utsinger: Carry Me by Rena Grossman has been a favorite for all three of my children. Babies love looking at photographs of other babies, and each page includes a picture of a loved one carrying a baby, on fronts, backs, and sides, using arms, a sling, a basket, or a structured carrier. The book highlights a wonderful range of countries and cultures throughout the world, so is a great way to add diversity to your library.
Are You There Little Fox?
Hannah Scott: When I first read the description of this Usborne book for babies, it didn't sound all that exciting. When I actually opened it to read with my kids for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by how charming it is! Throughout the story, the reader is looking for little fox through the cutouts on each page. Each page has indented areas (some with texture, some without) for babies to touch, and the illustrations are bright and full of little animals in nature scenes. Such a cute find!
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: My kids loved this book when they were little! Written by Don and Audrey Wood, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is cute and funny for young children as a little mouse wants a big, ripe strawberry all to himself. As the narrator convinces him, a hungry bear will get it, the mouse tries to hide and disguise the strawberry until a much better solution is created that demonstrates the theme of sharing. My kids would ask to read it over and over and I'm sure other kids will enjoy it just as much!
I Love You As Much...
Hannah Scott: This book by Laura Krauss Melmed is everything you could ever want in a children's story: gorgeous painted illustrations (by Henri Sorensen), beautifully crafted poetry, and an overarching theme of unconditional love from mother to baby. I've read this one over and over, and I never get tired of it!
Good Night, Gorilla
Hannah Scott: This wordless story by Peggy Rathmann tells the tale through delightful illustrations of a gorilla who follows the zookeeper home -- and takes the whole zoo with him! You can "read" this with your babies for the pictures at first, but it turns into a great chance for an older child to explain what's going on without the use of text.
Big Red Barn
Hannah Scott: This classic by Margaret Wise Brown is the perfect bedtime story as all of the farm animals wind down at the end of the day. I love watching the color of the illustrations darken as the day goes on! This story is responsible for my child's love of all things farm, and helped him with his speech delay as he began to point to the animals and make the sounds!
Guess How Much I Love You
Michael Farina: This is a selfish pick -- reading this book with a child on my lap always fills me with the best emotions. I'd read it even if my kids didn't enjoy this book (thankfully they do). This is my go-to gift for expecting parents.
Moo Baa La La La
Kelly R.: Sandra Boynton has a bunch of wonderful board books for babies and toddlers written in her signature silly and sweet style. Moo, Baa, La La La is a great early read aloud book, exploring the different sounds animals make. Kids have fun filling in the animal noises themselves as they get older.
Kelly R.: This striking book by Peter Linenthal features high-contrast black and white artwork, making it a perfect first book for infants as they develop their eyesight. Faces, flowers and other bold images are mesmerizing and calming for the youngest babies, and still plenty of fun for older ones as they grow.
Please, Baby, Please
Kelly R.: This adorable book from Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee is a favorite among babies and toddlers! The snappy and repetitive text is fun to read aloud, with a parent pleading with a little one to correct a variety of typical (and sometimes naughty) toddler behavior that kids get a kick out of.
Amy S.: Littles will love this counting book featuring primate portraits. The animals are rendered with dignity, exquisite detail, and quirky facial expressions. (We always have fun selecting our “favorite face” on each page.) But perhaps the most beautiful feature is the way the author introduces humans in the last pages and situates them among primates as part of “one big family.”
Mommy Loves Baby
Lisa R: Each page of this book is one line of a simple song accompanied by a pictures of baby animals cuddling with their parents or mommy and daddy animals together. The song in the book consists of only a few words: "mommy", "daddy", "and", "baby'", "love". It makes for a comforting bedtime book and was the first book my daughter could read on her own.
Where's The Tiger?
Lisa R: This long-lasting lift-a-flap book uses felt instead of paper for the flaps, so my baby can safely flip through it by himself without tearing it to pieces. The first four pages have brightly colored animals behind the flaps. The last page has a mirror. Surprise! It's you! I like it for car rides and carrying around in my bag for fussy moments.
Primary photo: nappy from Pexels
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