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Best Baby Books for Newborns and Beyond – 28 Fantastic Books to Buy for Your Baby’s First Library


We’ve all heard the adage that it’s never too early to start reading to our babies. Indeed, early literacy researchers have found a correlation between the age parents start reading to infants and young children, and stronger literacy later on. Specifically, “the younger the children were read to, the better were their literacy and language skills.”

If you’re anything like me, that will get you excited to start building baby’s first library. When I was pregnant I was so excited to get a collection of beautiful books for your baby! When I started looking online, however, I found I had no idea where to start. There are so many choices out there, it’s hard to choose the best books for baby without getting overwhelmed.

Below, we’ve chosen some of the best books for newborns and beyond, based on our own experience as well as our research into developmental milestones and capabilities that impact your baby’s ability to enjoy a book (such as eyesight). And we’ve tried to select the books for a baby that will last them through their first year, and beyond.

Whether you start shopping for your baby on your own or add these to your baby shower list, we hope you find some future favorites on here. Books and reading can be the foundation of cherished family memories that last for decades – we hope this list plays a part in getting those memories started for your family!

Best Books for Infants: High Contrast Board Books

First books for babies tend to be bold, high contrast board books to suit their natural love of high contrast, clearly defined shapes. They are often brightly colored, reflecting the fact that babies don’t develop the full ability to see color until around five months. That’s not to say babies are color blind – it’s just easier for them to see the high contrast of black vs. white, as well as clearly defined shapes. That’s why the best baby books for very young babies typically feature black and white shapes with just a few bold colors.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

“Babies also like objects with high contrast, such as black-and-white bull’s-eye patterns, checkerboards, and concentric circles of contrasting colors. It is good for your baby to have different things to look at….”

American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org

So if you’re looking for babies first book or two, what are some great options? We’ve gathered some favorites below.

Look Look! by Peter Linenthal

This stimulating book is the perfect example of the black and white contrast art that captures newborns’ attention. The simple words are written in red for an intriguing pop of color that will hold the interest of older babies as well, especially when they start to distinguish red and green around 4 to 5 months old.

Black & White by Tana Hoban

This fun accordion-style book consists of 14 large and simple white shapes displayed on a black background. It will keep your baby engaged and is sturdy enough to stand on its own, making it easy to incorporate into tummy time.

Hello, Baby Animals by duopress & Julissa Mora

Your baby’s quickly developing eyes and brain will adore the cute black and white animals in this 10-page board book. Its simple text will stimulate your baby to make connections with the pictures and promote learning. Making the animal noises for your baby as you read is a surefire hit!

Spots and Dots by Chez Picthall

Designed for the very youngest babies, this book contains no words. It is full of striking black and white shapes with pops of bright and cheerful color and differing levels of complexity. Perfect for your little one’s developing eyesight.

Manhattan Toy See and Say

Packed with adorable and simplistic graphics with fun colors and basic shapes, this board book is the perfect learning tool for your developing baby. It also includes a baby safe mirror, so your baby can enjoy gazing at their own face (a guaranteed hit!).

Best Books for 6 Month Old: Touch and Feel Books for Babies Under 6 Months & Beyond

Around 4 to 6 months, your baby is likely to get interested in touch and feel books. These include soft books for babies, books with crinkle paper, or those with finger puppets, for example.

Look for books that engage multiple senses – touch and feel textures, sound (squeaks, crinkles), and sight. Don’t worry about taste – your baby will take care of that for herself once she’s ready for the “put everything in his mouth” stage.

Old MacDonald Hand Puppet Book

This cheerful and exciting book brings the old classic to life by incorporating five loveable finger puppets. It promotes interactive learning and play.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Your baby will love to touch the various textures in this classic Golden Book. It will allow you to stimulate all of their senses with every joyful and interactive reading session. We started reading Pat the Bunny to our daughter when she was 5 months or so, and at 18 months she still likes it!

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Cottage Door Press

Have fun singing the classic rhyme while your little one plays with the friendly purple spider. It’s the perfect book for hand-eye coordination, interactive play, and enjoying texture.

This Little Piggy Hand Puppet Board Book

Bringing a classic one step further, your baby will love touching and engaging with the five little piggy finger puppets as they go through the rhyme. This version includes a twist on the classic nursery rhyme, which some parents find jarring. However, your little on is unlikely to know the difference, and is sure to love the piggy puppets!

Llama Themed Soft Baby Activity Book by Manhattan Toy

Stimulate your baby’s sense of touch, sight, and sound with this sweet and colorful llama book. It’s full of fun pockets, flaps and even a mirror to keep your little one hooked.

Sunny Day Come and Play by Manhattan Toy

This soft and cuddly book is made out of various fabrics and packed with fun and stimulating pages. The scenes are colorful and interactive, with flaps and folds to help with coordination.

Where’s Spot by Eric Hill

Your baby will love lifting the fun flaps and looking for Spot in this exciting and classic board book. The bright colors will keep them engaged and they will be able to practice hand-eye coordination.

Rhyming Books for Babies 6 to 12 Months: Story Books for Babies Under 1

Babies love rhyme and rhythm – the rhymes, repetition and rhythm are important helpers in your little one’s language development.

Once your kiddo is ready for story books, you’ll also be introducing your baby to “tier 2” words – words that we don’t tend to use in our everyday speech, but are found in high-quality literature and are important to know in developing robust literacy skills. As you build up a library for your little one as they grow, you’ll be helping their language development and range of vocabulary, too.

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry

This sweet story features a cheerful and helpful truck who gets into some trouble but gathers some fun animal friends along the way. Little Blue Truck and its sister book, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, are on our “read every day” list, that’s how much our daughter loves them. There are actually 6 books in the series in case you want to go all out, and the underlying message is related to helping others and being kind.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault & Lois Ehlert

This fun and colorful book uses repetition to promote familiarity and memorization. Your little one will love the catchy rhyme and will start learning to recognize alphabet shapes right away.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw & Margot Apple

This silly story about a friendly but silly group of sheep who (spoiler) crash a jeep and have to overcome some obstacles. The book is full of alliterations and rhymes, making it great for language development. It’s very silly, and is brought to life with cute and bright illustrations.

Peek A Who? by Nina Laden

Lift the flap books are always a hit in our house, and Peek a Who uses simple rhymes promote a better understanding of language and word groups. The lift the flap is great for promoting your baby’s dexterity.

The Best Baby Books for Bedtime

Every experienced parent knows how important a regular bedtime routine is to getting their little one to sleep each night. And the popular “bottle, bath, book, bed” sequence has served our family well. We have a range of bedtime books in our house, and cycle through them, letting our daughter choose which books she wants to read.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd

This Margaret Wise Brown classic uses gentle rhymes to say goodnight to all of the familiar things in your child’s surroundings. The cozy pictures are a quiet and comforting accompaniment to the sweet words. We’ve been reading this one to our 18-month-old nightly for at least a year now, and she still loves it. She knows all the words, and now loves looking for the little mouse in the room (when moves around to different spots on each page).

Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

This is the perfect book to reiterate a bedtime routine, as the silly group of animals takes a bath, brushes their teeth and rocks to sleep. I’m not going to lie – the fact that they decide to exercise after putting on their pyjamas and brushing their teeth is a bit jarring to me and my husband, but our daughter doesn’t seem to mind. She loves the rhymes and rhythm of this one, plus all the animals.

If Animals Kissed Goodnight by Ann Whitford Paul & David Walker

This sweet book takes a walk through the animal kingdom, wondering how each animal family would kiss each other goodnight. A nice way to spark your little one’s imagination and encourage curiosity about the natural world.

I Love You to the Moon and Back by Amelia Hepworth & Tim Warnes

A sweet bear and cub are the stars of this story, as they go through their day showing love for each other by playing and cuddling. The cute illustrations and gentle rhymes will entrance your little one, and hopefully help and lull them to sleep.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

This adorable board book features a mischievous gorilla who isn’t quite ready to go to bed at bedtime. Your baby will love saying good night to all of the animals in the zoo until the very end.

Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton

Another Sandra Boynton classic, this amusing and engaging book features a silly song and dance that takes you through a bedtime routine and will give your little one a chance to get all their sillies out before sleep.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram

This classic bedtime book features a little hare, his daddy, and their boundless love. It is a beautiful interpretation of a father’s love and full of vivid and classic illustrations.

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

The perfect book for celebrating your love for your little one, it highlights the magic that comes into your life when you first meet your child, and will remind your baby just how special they are to you.

The Classics: The Best Books for Babies 6 to 12 Months (& Beyond)

Every library needs some of the all-time classics – books that you might even remember and cherish from your own childhood! These are some of our favorites.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This classic will engage your little one with bright and quirky illustrations while helping them become familiar with the days of the week and different foods as the caterpillar munches and munches, gets a tummy ache, finally makes a healthy choice, and then turns into a beautiful butterfly.

Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle

The timeless illustrations by Eric Carle will stimulate your little one to connect the pictures to the catchy words and teach animal names and colors. The rhythm and chanting of the book is easy to love.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Take your little one on a quest to find the perfect pet in this amusing and interactive book. They’ll lift the flaps to reveal the colorful animals while improving dexterity. We have read this hundreds of times, and our daughter never seems to tire of it.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This all-time-favorite will take your child on the most imaginative journey of their life, coaxing them into a dream world with the bright and vivid illustrations.


Final Thoughts

We’ve included some of our favorites in this list of baby’s first books, but we’d also love to hear from you. What books do you love for a new baby? What are your childhood favorites? We’d love to know if we’ve left any off this list – shoot us an email if you think we’ve forgotten any!

And of course, if you’ve know a new parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, we hope you’ll share this list with them!

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