Stock your new baby library with these top selections for reading and story time! This list of over 50 best baby books for babies and toddlers includes ideas for baby shower gifts, interactive books, picture books, bedtime stories, and more.
Choosing the Best Baby Books
We have a LOT of books at home! And as my children have grown, I’ve hung on to our favorites. My kids are older now, but surprisingly they still enjoy listening to and reading these top baby books. There’s sentiment for them, I suppose. And they’re just such GREAT books, reading the stories again and again is a joy.
Each of the books suggested in this article are my family favorites. They have been read and owned by my own children, stand the test of time and are age-appropriate.
Whether you’re purchasing books to gift at a baby shower or simply stocking your own book shelves, these top titles are proven winners. Most of the books shared in this article are clickable with a link that will direct you to Amazon for easy shopping. Keep reading for the list of the best books to buy for babies.
Which Baby Books Are Really the BEST?
Books are subjective material. It’s hard to determine the perfect book, or what’s “best” because opinions vary! Naturally, what one person finds fascinating, is uninteresting to another.
Choosing Books for Babies
When it comes to choosing the best baby books, it’s all dependent upon two people: the baby and the person reading to the baby! Babies can’t choose their own books. So the book must appeal to the person that’s going to pick up the book and read it.
Picking Out Books for Toddlers
Once your baby becomes a toddler, you can be sure the child will have strong opinions on which books they want to read! Toddlers are known to want to have certain books read and reread over and over again.
How to Choose the Best Baby Books
When choosing the best baby books for babies or toddlers, look for stories that are appealing to both children and adults.
In general, the text should be a jumping off point for the reader. Illustrations should offer lots to discuss in addition to the storyline, so that the child can get more involved.
Choose Durable Versions
Children’s books are sold in a variety of styles, including hardcover, paperback, board books, and spiral bound.
Hardcover books are nice to give as a special baby shower gift. Paperback books are best for preschoolers that can handle the softer pages.
Best Board Books
I almost always choose sturdy board books for babies and toddlers. These books are usually smaller in size so they’re great for little hands. The pages are made out of stiff board instead of paper. Board books tend to stand up better with daily use.
Of course, you’ll still want to watch your baby carefully when they are handling books. Babies are always going to put the book in their mouth to gnaw, which can quickly destroy even board books (ask me how I know!)
Beloved Classics Make the Best Baby Books
Any of these all-time favorites are sure to be a hit, especially for new parents that are just building a library. These are the classic baby books that all children should own and read.
Goodnight Moon – The perfect bedtime book with soothing text and sweet illustrations, you’re sure to read this night after night. Keep reading this article for additional bedtime book suggestions.
Jamberry – A whimsical story about a boy and a bear as they explore berry country. One of my very favorites, with tons of detail and wonderful read-aloud rhyme.
Corduroy – Sweet story about friendship between a department store bear and the little girl who wants to take him home.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Lyrical text and stand-out illustrations make this one a gem. In subsequent readings, your baby will be able to predict which different animals will appear on the next page.
Guess How Much I Love You – Little and Big Nutbrown Hare discuss their immeasurable love for each other in this timeless story.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – Rollicking adventure about the alphabet with bold illustrations and a quirky storyline that babies love.
Best Baby Books for Baby Shower Gifts
While many would argue that books aren’t essential for babies, I think that reading to children when they are young is extremely important.
True, you can’t dispute that a car seat, crib, or stroller isn’t a great baby shower gift. And all of those adorable baby clothes and diapers are necessary. But there’s something special about gifting books for baby’s first year.
Make These Books a Memento
A hardcover copy of any of these titles make an ideal shower gift. The pages can be inscribed as a memento. Request that others write inside, including baby shower guests, parents on each year of the child’s birthday, or annually from classroom teachers.
Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go! – Written in the style of Dr. Seuss, this lyrically rhyming text is ideal for a baby shower gift.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be – Sweet illustrations showcase children of different cultures, with a hopeful rhyme accompaniment.
Love You Forever – This classic baby book describes the never-ending love that parents have for their children (and vice versa). Consider buying a hardbound version for inscription, as well as a board book for reading.
Best Baby Books for Newborns
I’ve been reading to my kids since they were newborns. From a very young age, babies love to hear the cadence of your voice, responding to vocal inflection and tone.
Look for images that offer a high contrast. Text can be minimal to allow you to riff off the pictures. Or simply talk to your little one about the image and make up your own story.
I Kissed the Baby! – The enthusiasm is infectious in this vibrant book about animals meeting a baby chick for the first time.
Look, Look! – The black and white contrasts with minimal text, making this perfect for newborns. This is a great book to use for tummy time, as it encourages your baby to lift their head to see the images.
Indestructibles – These clever books are chew proof, rip proof, nontoxic, and 100% washable. Choose from a wide variety of titles, perfect for teething babies.
Black and White – Striking silhouettes of household objects are bold images that are great for stimulating newborn babies.
Learning Books for Babies
First 100 Board Book Box Set – Chunky board books are ideal for little ones to “read” on their own. This collection of books includes topics like animals, shapes, numbers, colors, and words.
Disney Baby – Baby Animals – The sweetly illustrated books feature familiar Disney characters with minimal text and lots to talk about with babies. Check out all the Disney Baby series books, including colors, shapes, and baby signs.
Baby Faces – A diverse group of babies are featured in the photos of this learning book. Encourages babies to recognize facial emotions and imitation.
My First 1000 Words – My kids had a “baby dictionary” like this for many years. By the time I had my fourth child, the book was clinging together by threads, it had been so well-loved! Choose a book with bright photographs and a wide variety of subjects to discuss while you read together.
Beginner Story Books for Babies
When your baby is ready to sit for a story, try one of these engaging picture books.
Big Red Barn – Follow farm animals from day to night in this engaging Margaret Wise Brown classic.
No Matter What – A baby fox and its parent showcase the emotion of unconditional love in this affirming, sweet title.
Little Blue Truck – With repetition, your baby will soon enough be able to chime in with the animal sounds in this sweet story about a truck driving through the farm.
If I Could Keep You Little – Gentle rhyming story about babies growing up. Simple sketch illustrations are appealing to babies and feature a diverse range of children.
“More More More”, Said the Baby – The colorful adventures of three little ones, as their parents love on them with hugs and kisses.
Curious George – The inquisitive baby monkey gets into mischief, to the delight of little kids everywhere!
Tips for Introducing Books to a Baby
What to Expect from Story Time with a Baby
Set aside a few books to read together. Some babies will be able to sit through several books, while others will want to stop after a few pages. Engage your baby by pointing at images, changing the sound of your voice, or switching to a new book.
Reading to baby should be one of your daily activities. Aim to create specified story times throughout the day, ideally during a period of rest. Lap reading and cuddling with a book is a great segue towards nap or for use in the bedtime routine.
Letting Young Children “Read” on Their Own
Encourage babies to read during tummy time by propping a book with bright illustrations in front of them.
At first, toddlers may just dump out the books or chew on the edges. In time, you’ll notice them opening the books, turning the pages, and pointing to the images. Babies will bring books to you for reading, as well.
Rotate Your Baby’s Library of Books
To eliminate story time boredom (for both adults and children), rotate books in and out. Place books out of rotation on a high shelf and refresh the bookshelf with newer reads.
Have Books within Easy Reach for Reading
Putting baby books neatly on a shelf is often a lost cause, as young kids generally just push them onto the floor.
Keep durable baby books in an easy to access location. A low basket or a bookshelf fabric sling organizer is an easy way to keep books accessible for babies.
Older Babies and Toddlers – Storytime Tips
Introduce Longer Stories
As kids get older, their attention span can stretch to include a longer story time or a more complex book. Introduce longer books with more text as you see fit. Show young readers the words and have them repeat after you.
Have a Conversation About the Book
Feel free to riff off the illustrations and have your own conversation with little ones about each page. Ask questions about different aspects they see and what they think is going to happen next.
Change Your Tone
Choose a book with a fun rhyme that will help your toddler pick up words and rhythm. As you read, change the tone of your voice, adding sing-song, funny voices, and get soft or loud when the text demands it.
Teach Gentle Handling
Set aside hardbacked books, paperback books, and lift-the-flap books until toddlers are ready for gentle handling. Choose to pull these special books down from the bookshelf when reading together. Encourage toddlers to carefully turn the pages.
Best Books for Toddlers
Is Your Mama a LLama? – A baby looks for his mama, while meeting lots of other baby animals in his area. Offers fun rhymes that lead the child to guess which animal baby llama has found.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – The ping-pong nature of toddlers is present in this charming story about a very distracted mouse. With frequent reading, kids will be able to predict what the little mouse will want next!
Good Night, Gorilla – A sneaky baby gorilla takes all the zoo animals out of their cages, without the zookeeper’s knowledge. This mostly wordless book is all about the humorous illustrations, which will pique your toddlers interest.
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear – One of my personal favorites, this story features a little mouse trying to figure out how to hide his precious strawberry (with a surprise ending!). The colorful illustrations highlight the quirky mouse and his beautiful berry.
Sheep in a Jeep – So much fun to read aloud, kids will lament these distracted sheep that just can’t seem to stay out of trouble during their joyride.
Fun Baby Books to Read Aloud
These raucous titles encourage kids to join in as you read. The more you read these books, the more familiar they’ll be come with the storyline and be able to predict what happens next! Encourage children to play along, including jumping, clapping, or shouting the words.
The Monster at the End of This Book – Sesame Street’s furry little friend Grover tells this hilarious story in a page-turner that delights kids.
Dinosaurumpus! – Rollicking story about dinosaurs having a midnight dance party. Lots of opportunity for toddlers to stamp and clamp with the rhyme.
Mother, Mother, I Want Another – All the neighboring animals come to visit Baby Mouse for the evening in this sweetly illustrated picture book that’s a family favorite. My daughter insists I sing each of the animal voices differently, making this a fun read aloud.
Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business – Clever book about a man selling hats and the silly monkeys that he outsmarts. Kids will love to stomp and shake their fists along with the storyline.
Quick As a Cricket – Vibrant, larger than life images that compare a child’s emotions and energy to wild animals.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? – There’s a reason Dr. Seuss books are so appealing to children and adults alike! The books are lively and fun to read aloud, which teaching kids cadence and rhythm through this “book of wonderful noises”.
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed – Uh, oh…these little monkeys aren’t settling down for bed! See what happens in this silly story of misbehaving monkeys.
The Napping House – A perineal favorite book in our house! This adorable story tells what happens in the wee hours when a restless flea interrupts a sleeping family and their pets.
Educational Books for Toddlers
“The Way I Feel” Library – Toddler essentials for teaching about feelings and emotions in a gentle way. The illustrations are sweet, with bright colors. Each book handles a kid-friendly topic, including fear, anger, separation anxiety, worry, and friendship with simple text. Consider purchasing the entire series.
Dr. Seuss’s ABC – A best first alphabet book, with bold letters, engaging images, and catchy verse by Dr. Seuss.
Potty – A great first potty training book to open the discussion with babies and toddlers. Super simple words and illustrations stick to the basics of using the potty.
Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever – The charming oversized book series by Richard Scarry are absolute gems. Appealing to children that love detail and learning about the world around them. The fun illustrations are enjoyable for the whole family.
Top Interactive Books for Toddlers
An interactive book is a fun way to get older babies involved in story time or to encourage reading alone. Little ones love flaps, different textures, and peek-a-boo features on books, but they can be easily damaged.
Store interactive books in a place where they can be mishandled by rough hands. Once toddlers can handle books gently, these copies can be placed within reach.
Where’s Spot? – This simple classic combines lift-the-flag pages and basic text to encourage kids to find the hiding puppy.
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book – Which animal makes the best pet? Your child will delight in lifting the flaps to find out which animal the zoo has sent next.
Pat the Bunny – This classic has minimal words accompanied by touch and feel pages that cover all the senses.
Ten Little Ladybugs – Excellent book for teaching how to count to ten, with tiny ladybugs embedded in the pages.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – An Eric Carle classic, little kids will enjoy poking their fingers into the die-cut holes that the caterpillar creates as he munches across the pages!
Longer Picture Books for Toddlers
When your toddler is able to sit for a longer period or enjoys more of an in-depth storyline, try one of these picture books.
Where the Wild Things Are – One of the most beloved children’s stories, this tale of imagination by Maurice Sendak is a classic that every child should own.
Little Bear – Sweet short stories about an imaginative bear and his patient mother.
Harry the Dirty Dog – This is one of the first picture books I remember from my childhood! Amusing story about a little dog that doesn’t want to take a bath.
The Cat in the Hat – A must have for every child’s library, the mischievous cat (along with Thing 1 and Thing 2), make rhyming fun in this classic book.
The Poky Little Puppy – This Little Golden Book about curious puppies is a classic for children that can sit for a longer story.
The Rainbow Fish – Gentle story about friendship and generosity speaks about sharing, a major subject for toddlers. The shimmering, iridescent pages are a highlight for little kids.
Strega Nona – Find out what happens when Strega Nona’s magic pasta pot won’t stop making pasta, nearly covering the town. My older kids all come to listen when I read this story aloud!
Best Bedtime Books for Babies and Toddlers
A bedtime book (or two, or three!) is a baby and toddler must. Whether it’s naptime or night time, these sleepy time books are ideal reading to wind down. Choose a restful bedtime story that makes it easier to transition to sleep.
Time for Bed -This one is gentle and sweet, with animal parents putting their littles one down to bed for the night. Beautiful illustrations make this one of our favorite books for bedtime.
Say Goodnight – Sleepy babies get ready for bed in this sweet book that eases little ones to rest.
Ten Out of Bed – A boy and his stuffed animals frolic in bed, until it’s time to fall asleep in this twist of the time-tested rhyme.
On the Night You Were Born – Vibrant story about how all the animals in the world celebrate when a child is born.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – Ideal for vehicle lovers, all the trucks rest at the end of the day so they’re ready for work in the morning.
Llama Llama Red Pajama – Little Llama doesn’t want to be left alone without his mama. This precious story speaks to the heart of children who want extra evening comforts.
Looking for Additional Book Suggestions?
For more book ideas, check out this round up of the top 100 best books for kids of all ages, from baby to teen.