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20 Best First Books for Babies: Board Books, Storybooks

Best First Books for Babies

Children’s books are one of the most important things all families should have in their home.

Not only are books great for spending quality time with your child, but they’re also great tools that will help them develop their reading, speech, and literacy skills!

On top of that, some books also provide wonderful stories that give other benefits too. Some can help your child fall asleep easier, learn how to dance, process emotions, and even sing!

From hundreds of books out there, we picked 20 books that are perfect for newborns, infants, and toddlers.

For Newborns

Our Pick
For ABCs
Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
Our Pick
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
For Newborns
Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal
For ABCs
Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Our Picks for the Best Baby Books

1. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

OUR PICK

Our Pick - Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon is a classic and is one of the most popular books that have touched the lives of millions of children worldwide. This is perfect for reading to your child at the end of the day!

For the content, the bunny says goodnight to everything around him. There’s something about this storybook that makes it feel soothing, special, and enjoyable for nighttime reading.

This is a must-have for your baby’s first library!

2. Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal

TOP PICK FOR NEWBORN DEVELOPMENT

Look, Look!

This storybook is one of the best baby books for your child’s eyesight stimulation and development.

Look, Look! is filled with pages that have high contrast, black and white illustrations. These types of images are perfect for newborns who haven’t fully developed their visual senses yet. 

This is a very quick read, so it’s perfect for newborns aged 0-3 months.

3. Dr. Seuss’s ABC by Dr. Seuss

TOP PICK FOR ABCs

Dr. Seuss

Who doesn’t know who Doctor Seuss is? He wrote a lot of the best baby books you can find out there to this day.

This is a classic baby book that teaches your child the alphabet in a unique and silly way!

This is arguably one of the most entertaining alphabet baby books you can find.

4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.

Brown Bear

This is another classic and popular storybook all parents should consider reading to their child.

On each page, you’ll have a different animal saying how they see another animal, which you’ll actually see on the next page.

The sentences here use the same pattern, giving a great pace and rhythm for a fun reading session for parents and babies.

This storybook is meant for babies who are 2-5 years old, but reading this to younger babies won’t be a bad idea.

5. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes

This storybook isn’t really meant for babies younger than 12 months, but as they’re approaching their first year, it’s a great option you should consider reading to your child.

Gerald the Giraffe has a passion for dancing, but he’s not so great at the start, and other animals were mocking him for it. In the end, he ends up learning how to dance beautifully and fulfill his passion for dancing!

It’s a well-written storybook that has wonderful illustrations. This is a great pickup to add to your baby’s first library.

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This baby book by Eric Carle is also one of the most popular ones on this list, and millions of other families probably have this storybook sitting on their bookshelves!

For the story, there’s a caterpillar that eats throughout each day of the week until he changes into a beautiful butterfly. The illustrations are simple, and reading this storybook is fairly easy for older babies to follow.

This storybook by Eric Carle is meant for a baby’s first year and well past it, as it involves many paragraphs that younger babies wouldn’t be able to understand yet.

7. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy

First 100 Words

This book is a great introductory book once you reach the baby’s first year mark.

Each page contains different kinds of words paired with an illustration. Reading through this book with your little one is a great practice for their literacy and speaking skills!

8. First 100 Animals by Roger Priddy

First 100 Animals

Coming from the same author, this book is formatted the same way, but instead of 100 words, it’s 100 animals.

This is another great book to start training your baby’s speech, recognition, and language skills!

These kinds of books are more “picture books” than reading books, so they are more suitable for young infants.

9. Numbers, Colours, Shapes by Roger Priddy

Numbers, Colours, Shapes

This is the third book in the First 100 Board Book Box Set by Roger Priddy, and this is a good mix of a bunch of other things you can read for your baby’s first year.

It has multiple pages filled with different numbers, colors, and shapes. These kinds of baby books are perfect for the speech development of your baby! 

10. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Guess How Much I Love You

This is a wonderful storybook that focuses on parental love!

The story is of a little hare trying to express how much he loves the bigger hare, his daddy. Throughout the story, the little hare puts as much effort as he can to express his love.

It’s a well-written story that’s very sweet, and we’re sure that a mother will appreciate it while reading it!

11. Baby Touch and Feel: Animals by DK

Touch and Feel

This unique baby book is one of the best baby books for sensory learning and motor development.

What makes it special is that each page offers different animal textures that your little one will surely be interested in!

Each page can be a whole new experience for your baby. It can easily be one of the standouts and best baby books in your child’s library.

12. God Bless You and Good Night by Hannah Hall

God Bless You and Good Night

This is a heartwarming storybook that some parents will appreciate very much.

Each page shows beautiful illustrations of a baby animal getting ready to sleep alongside their families.

This book will take your baby through a bedtime routine that ends with a “God bless you, and good night.”

It’s a useful way to help them fall asleep easier, and some parents will find how sweet it is to include a prayer at the end of it.

13. Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

Belly Button

This lift the flap book gives a unique experience to your baby.

It’s highly interactive, and it’s a great place to start for your baby to learn about different body parts!

It’s a very straightforward book that’s easy to read too. For each body part, there’s a simple one-line sentence that asks where a specific body part is, then moving the flap will reveal it.

This is suitable for infants, and it can be a fun read for one-year-olds (and even parents) too!

14. Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee

Please

Written and produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, this baby book takes you through the everyday journey of what it’s like to have a baby in the house.

It’s an interesting book that parents will probably love reading more than their baby!

This book is more suitable for preschool children who can already read, but it’s a great book you can introduce once your baby can pay attention during longer reading sessions.

15. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora

Peekaboo Morning

For those looking for more African-American representation, Peekaboo Morning is a great pickup for your baby’s first library.

This has a fun and interactive story that will bring in some laughs and giggles during your baby’s first year!

We also love the joyful-looking pastel illustrations that make it unique and more eye-catching.

Any mother will enjoy reading this book while making their baby laugh with peekaboos!

16. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

Where_s Spot

This classic illustration brings you the tale of Sally the dog, trying to find her puppy, Spot.

Throughout the story, Sally looks all over the house and encounters different kinds of animals inside the most unusual objects.

Reading through it is a breeze, making it a fun and engaging book that infants will love!

17. I Love You Through And Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak

I Love You

This lovely story centers around a boy’s unconditional love for his teddy bear.

What we love about it is that it’s a rhyming book too!

Reading this to your baby will be fun and engaging, and the sentences are simple enough to still work well for newborns!

The cute illustrations are easy to appreciate too, making it a lovely book for any baby’s first library.

18. The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton

The Going to Bed

A great bedtime reading option, this story by Sandra Boynton is all about how silly little ones can be by trying to delay their sleeping time.

What’s even cuter is how they used different kinds of animals to represent these silly children!

This is perfect for bedtime reading, and it’s an entertaining book that any mother and father will enjoy reading to their baby and children.

19. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

Moo Baa La La La

Another entry by Sandra Boynton, Moo Baa La La is all about animals and their different animal noises!

This is perfect for newborns and infants. The simple illustrations and short phrases are great for little ones to start training their speech and literacy skills since they can copy the animal sounds.

20. Baby Happy Baby Sad by Leslie Patricelli

Happy Sad

This is one of the most wonderful yet simple books on this list!

It’s all about a baby boy showing emotions of happiness and sadness during particular events.

Holding an ice cream cone = Happy. Dropping the ice cream = Sad.

It’s a great way for your baby and children to learn about empathy and how to process emotions when something good or bad happens.

When Should You Start Reading Books to Babies?

When Should You Start

Books are wonderful objects that bring new knowledge and skill development for all ages.

For infants who can’t read and speak yet, you might think that books won’t bring any benefits.

On the contrary, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends reading to newborns as early as birth!

In their report, the American Academy of Pediatrics mentioned how regularly reading to young children will stimulate brain development and can also strengthen parent-child relationships.

In turn, your baby and children will also build their speech, literacy, socio-emotional, and motor skills!

Some books can even stimulate and improve a newborn’s visual senses using highly contrasting colors and interesting looking illustrations!

Using books is also a great tool to spend time with your little one. You can make it a bedtime routine, a bonding time experience, and a way for your baby to learn new skills besides using toys and gadgets!

What Are the Best Books to Read to Infants?

What Are

The best baby books for infants younger than 12 months are quick and easy to read.

Books with a lot of pages won’t suit well for infants because they can’t understand stories yet. They probably won’t last long too, until making a fuss.

Infants are more responsive and interested in eye-catching illustrations that are brightly colored. Getting a brightly colored book will surely keep them occupied.

However, this doesn’t mean you should only show them a picture book and leave them be.

As we mentioned earlier, reading to your newborn is a great way for them to develop their speaking, literacy, and vocabulary skills early!

What Are the Best Books for 1-Year-Olds?

What Are for 1-Year-Olds-

Once your baby turns one, you can start transitioning to baby books that are a little longer and have more well-written stories.

At this point, your baby and children should be more interested in what you have to say. Reading to them books with fun stories and interesting illustrations will be more effective than when they were newborns!

You can actively practice with them how to recognize certain letters, numbers, animals, and all sorts of objects in the book.

Once they can better recognize them, you can then help them practice how to pronounce the objects they see.

Doing these exercises every day is a great way to improve your child’s speaking and cognitive skills!

Are Board Books Better for Babies?

Better

For younger babies who haven’t developed their fine motor skills yet, board books are highly recommended.

What makes board books perfect for them is that they’re more durable and easier to maintain. You don’t have to worry about your baby ripping off any pages. You don’t have to worry about any saliva ruining them too!

It’s also easier for babies to flip through the pages of board books since they’re sturdier and more solid.

On the downside, publishers sometimes get rid of the pages and content of their board book variant. Not like it matters for your baby, but that could be a significant factor for some parents.

You’ll be reading less of the actual story of the baby book.

In any case, we still strongly recommend getting a board book variant for infants, even if there’s some content removed.

Tips on How to Read Books to Your Baby

Tips

When you read books to your precious one, it’s important to pour your entire heart into the activity.

Don’t just read the text like it’s a textbook!

Recognize that this is a special bonding time with your baby, so make sure to add some emotion, make it feel more interesting by adding enthusiasm and silliness, and deliver the story well.

Some other tips to keep in mind is to stay close to your baby while reading. You can either put your baby on your lap, sit down next to them on the floor, or cuddle with your baby while you read.

Put your undivided attention to your baby while you read the story, and make sure to read at your baby’s pace. There’s no need to rush this activity because what’s most important is for your baby to learn and develop their skills.

Read at the right pace and pronounce each word precisely and concisely. It also helps to point out different elements on each page.

Make sure to also talk about some of these elements with your baby before flipping the page. This is great for them to recognize the importance of that element, and it could help them try to pronounce what it is.

Lastly, it’s also not a bad idea to let your baby hold the book and let them flip over the pages themselves. This is why using a board book will be a better idea for newborns so that they can easily handle the board book as opposed to paper pages.

Follow these tips during your daily reading sessions, and next thing you know, your precious one is already becoming livelier as they try to speak and express themselves more often!

Conclusion

Conclusion

There are lots of wonderful books on this list, but our top pick would be the children’s book classic, Goodnight Moon. This has been around for ages, and it’s not surprising to see this on any family’s bookshelf at home!

For newborns, we highly recommend getting Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal. This is perfect for newborns because it uses highly contrasting colors of blacks and whites! It’s a great book to start developing your baby’s visual senses.

If you’re looking for a great and entertaining ABCs entry, no one does it better than this ABCs book by Seuss himself. This book is perfect as a baby’s first book to get your baby started on recognition and speech!

For more entertainment for your baby, here are 5 Non-Toxic Bath Toys you can get!


Changelog:

July 22, 2021 – updated interlinking, updated external links

About the author

angelica-graham

A few years ago, Angelica found out about all the plastic and toxic ingredients that got into most children’s products. And this worried her to no end. Because of this, she began to research what the best ingredients and materials were for children and made it her mission to share this information with other mothers.