Why Reading Is Important
Reading to your baby is such an essential part of childhood development. It promotes cognitive development, language development, and social development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “reading aloud and talking about pictures and words in age-appropriate books can strengthen language skills, literacy development and parent-child relationships.”
Language skills are developed by increasing vocabulary and enhancing memory. Seeing pictures and words and following patterns and rhythms in your voice helps with image and word recognition. Reading also fosters fine motor skills through holding the book and turning pages.
Mina Loves Books!
We started reading to Mina when she was in the womb and every day since she was born. When she was a newborn, she would focus intently on each page. At a few months old, she loved listening to the stories and seeing all the images. She also loved to turn the pages and pick out which book to read, encouraging her independence. One of our main activities was reading for long periods of time – she loved it! As a toddler, sitting down and reading many books is a bit harder since she wants to run around and play, but we still manage to get a few books in each day. I think Mina’s appreciation for books comes from starting right away (in the womb) and establishing reading as a fun family bonding activity.
A Few Tips on Books and Reading
Incorporate reading into your daily routine.
This not only becomes a wonderful bonding activity, but also gives the baby a sense of security. He will know what to expect and will look forward to reading together. Reading early on with your baby also preps him to read on his own as he gets older.
Make each book more versatile by “going off-script”.
Instead of reading directly from the book, go “off-script” by describing each picture, pointing to each color and shape, asking questions and giving answers to encourage interaction, and just following the baby’s cues and pace. It’s also fun to make exaggerated faces and use silly voices and accents to encourage laughs and set an engaging experience.
Purchase board books instead of regular paper books, as they have thick pages with rounded edges.
Regular paper books can easily be ripped apart by little curious hands and the sharp edges can be a hazard. Most childrens books come in both options, so make sure to select the board book when checking out.
The Best Baby Books
When we first started researching books for babies, we didn’t know where to start and spent hours Googling and cross-referencing on Amazon. Hopefully this comprehensive list can be a great resource for you. These books all have great reviews on Amazon and are loved by our daughter.
Please note, this obviously isn’t a fully comprehensive list that includes all books. There are thousands of wonderful children’s books to choose from – the below is just what we came across and love!
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
A classic by Eric Carle, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a must have in your library. Mina LOVED this book all throughout her first year and into toddlerhood. On each page, there is a brightly colored large animal for young eyes to focus on. The repetitive rhythm of the story is fun for reading and is easily recognized. Babies love repetition!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Another classic from Eric Carle, this story is about a hungry caterpillar that spends each day trying to satiate his hunger, but ends up gorging on junk food and feeling sick. On the last day, he eats fresh greens and feels much better, then builds his cocoon and turns into a beautiful butterfly. The underlying theme is about the importance of healthy eating, and the book also encourages counting with the various foods he eats. Mina really gravitated toward this book so much so that we dressed her up as the hungry caterpillar for her first Halloween!
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
This book has a positive message about diversity and inclusion – we are all humans with ten little fingers and ten little toes. It has pictures of babies from all different backgrounds with different skin colors and features, which is fantastic for teaching babies about different races and ethnicities. I especially appreciate this book because it shows Mina that everyone comes from different backgrounds like she does. We love reading this book as a family.
Look, Look! has big, simple, black and white contrasting images that help with developing babies’ eyesight. This book is especially great for newborns and young babies who are learning to focus and see farther distances. We would have this book open and standing on the floor during tummy time.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
Dr. Seuss books are inherently whimsical and silly, and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? is no exception with all the fun sounds like mooing and buzzing. Mina loves this book, especially the last page, which is a culmination of all the silly sounds you say at once. Definitely a must have!
This classic is perfect for winding down before bed. There is something about pointing out each item in the room that provides a calming pace. We extend the story by pointing out all the different things in our room, too.
I Love You Through and Through
This is such a fun and sweet book that explores various emotions in a simple rhythmic way, while emphasizing unconditional love. We love reading this one before bed. Mina loves pointing out her different body parts along with the book.
The Pout-Pout Fish
Mina loves this book, but it’s also one of my personal favorites. It’s about a mopey fish that’s always pouting, but when he meets another fish, he soon discovers he’s a happy kiss-kiss fish. I enjoy making silly sounds and faces as I read “Bluuuuub…Bluuuuuub…Bluuuuuuuuuub”. Mina loves kissing the fish when he goes from being a pout-pout fish to a kiss-kiss fish. Definitely a must have! There are also many more Pout-Pout Fish stories that you can add to your collection.
First 100 Words
This is an essential book that depicts 100 different items that your baby would be familiar with, like foods, baby items, and toys. It has bright and colorful pages to keep your baby’s attention. Mina loves pointing to and identifying the various items when I read them.
Good Night, I Love You
Good Night, I Love You is about getting ready for bed by going through the routines like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and putting pajamas on. It’s great for instilling a bedtime routine for your little one.
From Head to Toe
From Eric Carle, this book is a great companion to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? It’s an engaging book that will have your little one stomping, clapping, and wiggling along with the animals.
The Rainbow Fish
The Rainbow Fish is a beautifully illustrated book with a great message about the importance of sharing and putting others before yourself.
The Wonderful Things You Will Be
The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the dreams, acceptance, and love that parents have for their children. Another great addition to your library!
This book is about a little gorilla who is loved by the whole jungle. He keeps growing and growing and is concerned that no one will like him anymore, but quickly learns that everyone still loves him. Mina really enjoys this book and always asks to read it.
Love You Forever
This sentimental classic is about a mother’s unconditional love for her child. Mina enjoys this book and says the boy (who grows up to be a man) in the book is her dada. Fun fact, if you watched the TV show Friends, this is the book that Joey read at Rachel’s baby shower that gets everyone emotional.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Another Dr. Seuss classic, this story is about the various triumphs, trials and tribulations one might come across in life – in Dr. Seuss’ whimsical manner, of course. My first impression was that this book was a little serious for a baby, but I think being honest and exposing your child to the complexities and nuances of life at an early age isn’t a bad thing. Again, it’s still very whimsical and fun, and the underlying theme is that we can all persevere, so I think it’s a great book to have in your library.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
This book has bright simple pages with colorful letters of the alphabet climbing a palm tree. The rhythmic text is fun to read and almost like a sing along. Mina gravitated toward this book when she was a little older, at around 8 months old. She loves the last page with all of the letters listed out.
The Going to Bed Book
The Going to Bed Book is another fun bedtime routine story that is fun to read.
Baby Touch Feel: Animals
Great for sensory learning, this book is filled with pictures of cute animals with various textures for curious hands to touch and feel.
Lamaze Peek-A-Boo Forest
This book-toy hybrid is great for taking on the go. It’s a soft, plush book with peek-a-boo flaps. Mina really likes this book, but I wish it had just a few more pages. Regardless, it has a lot of great reviews on Amazon and is Mina approved!
Sesame Street My First Library Board Book Block 12-Book Set
These are great because they’re perfectly sized for little hands and can be used as blocks for play. The carrying case also makes it easy for travel. Mina LOVES these. Note: they aren’t extremely well made. We gave them to Mina at 6 months old when she would put everything in her mouth and she would try to nibble on these often, breaking down the paper on the covers. I thought about getting rid of them, but she loved reading and playing with them so much, we kept them. She soon grew out of putting them in her mouth, but if you’re concerned, I recommend getting them when your baby is a bit older (technically, they’re recommended for 12+ months). Even as a toddler, she loves reading and playing with these books. It keeps her occupied for long periods of time!
Elmo’s Big Lift and Look Book
I love how large this book is. There are over 60 little flaps to play with, which is great for developing fine motor skills. However, Mina was able to rip some of the flaps off, but there are so many that we’re still able to use the book.
My Magical Unicorn
My Magical Unicorn is a colorful and fun push, pull and slide book. This book doesn’t have thousands of reviews on Amazon, but Mina really loved reading and interacting with this book. I think any push, pull, slide book is great for encouraging fine motor skills and interaction.
Nature Friends Lift-a-Flap Boxed Set 4-Pack: Little Red Barn, Little Blue Boat, Little Green Frog, and Little Yellow Bee
This book set, which is also sold as singles, is beautifully illustrated with thick flaps that can’t be ripped off. So many other lift-a-flap books are easily ripped and destroyed, but these are incredibly sturdy and high quality.
I’ve included a list of honorable mentions below, which are all great books with thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, but for some reason, Mina didn’t gravitate towards them. However, every baby is different, so your baby might love them!