20 Best Books for Babies

A lot has changed in literature since you were a kid! Before you purchase a well-worn classic for the baby in your life, consider creating some new memories with the wide selection of contemporary board books now on the shelves. Today’s favorite on the nightstand is tomorrow’s classic; find yours now.

1. The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson

This gorgeous 2009 Caldecott winner is both a night-time fantasy flight and a loving tribute to bedtime stories. Told in a reassuring, rhythmic, circular pattern, the story uses black and white scratchboard illustrations highlighted by glowing yellows to name familiar things while also showing the peaceful order of the world – even at night. It’s like a warm glass of milk before bed.

2. Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson

Every book requires a turn of the page, but not every book demands a jiggle, a tap and a kiss. A lonely, bare tree is waiting for you to help it come alive. This brilliant interactive board book offers explorations of color, seasons, ecology and counting, and contains a subtle metaphor for the power of love and attention.

3. Sweetest Kulu, by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis

Written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, this gorgeously illustrated story paints the picture of an Arctic lullaby for a newborn baby, affectionately called Kulu. All the animals of the Arctic stop by to give the newborn gifts, every scene as stark and stunning as the polar landscape itself.

4. You’re My Little Cuddle Bug, by Nicola Edwards and Nathalie Marshal

There are a handful of board books you’ll inevitably want to keep forever as they’ll bring back memories of some of the earliest times reading with your child. But only the really good ones survive spring cleanings, and this just-published paean to little ones is destined to join the classics.

5. Crinkle Crinkle Little Star, by Justin Krasner and Emma Yarlett

Look up at night and you can see the stars twinkle. Now, you can touch the stars and hear them crinkle! Explore the sparkling sky with enchanting rhymes and trace shimmering constellations. Your child will journey the starry night as Cetus the whale swims overhead, and Leo leaps up to greet the moon.

6. Peck Peck Peck, by Lucy Cousins

Baby Woodpecker has so much fun learning to peck, he doesn’t know when to stop. The end result? The unbridled joy of learning something new with the help of everyday hero Papa Woodpecker. as well as complete and utter silliness. With  “peck” holes in the pages, and lots of opportunities to name and count things, this vibrant and engaging story is sure to delight.

7. Main Street Magic, by Ingela Arrenhius

Get ready for repeated requests to pull your little one onto your lap to read this colorful French import.With heaps of gatefolds, pop-ups and flaps spread throughout this delightfully engaging book, your little reader will be ever-eager to see all of the surprises hidden inside. Each walk down this Main Street guarantees oodles of fun.

8. Give and Take, by Lucie Félix

An interactive book that is engaging, educational, and chic? Yes, please! Making the most of minimalism, French artist Lucie Félix has created an imaginative game within a book. With brightly-colored images made up of sturdy, pop-out shapes, each page is transformed as pop-outs are added and taken away. C’est magnifique!

9. Toot, by Leslie Patricelli

Let’s be clear: there are few things funnier than a well-timed toot. Leslie Patricelli enlightens our favorite bald baby to the fact that everyone—yes, everyone—passes gas, sometimes at the most inopportune times. Extra kudos to Patricelli for pointing out that a good toot has the added benefit of helping settle the tummy.

10. Indestructibles: Things That Go, by Amy Pixton and Stephan Lomp

The Indestructible series is a feat of engineering. Pages that never tear? Sign us up. Indestructibles is a series, but Things That Go is by far our favorite. This little book highlights all the ways your adventuresome baby can get from here to there. Bon Voyage!

11. Ocean Wonders, by Dorothea DePrisco Wang

It’s hard not to love a rhyming peek-a-boo book with sparkling foil accents. Ocean Wonders has everything we look for in a board book: sturdy, gorgeous illustrations, great content, and highly interactive. Expand your little one’s ocean-going horizons with an entourage of undersea animals always ready to play.

12. Penguin and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon

When you give love, it grows. If you ever needed to be reminded of this important life lesson, leave it to Salina Yoon. When a penguin finds a pinecone, he does everything from knit it a sweater to take it home to its native land to thrive. This books will not only make your heart grow bigger, it might also leave you wanting to stitch something yourself.

13. Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering, by Ruth Spiro and Irene Chan

It takes a gifted individual to distill aerodynamics into baby language and illustration, but this talented team has pulled it off beautifully. From the bird, to the plane, to the rocket, complete with the sweetest illustrations ever, we’ll all want to take off after reading this one.

14. Are You There, Little Fox?, by Sam Talpin

Peek-a-boo, I see you! Little fox is hiding and each page sets the scene for a fun game of hide-and-go-seek. Your little one will love this interactive board book that allows them to peep through holes and touch textured pages while searching for the elusive fox alongside the other woodland creatures.

15. Birds, by Kevin Henkes

Ever notice how your child is mesmerized by birds chirping in trees? This beautiful narrative introduces concepts like shape, color, and size while also telling the endearing story of a girl who dreams of flying. In the end, she learns that there are other ways for her to soar.

16. My Friends, by Taro Gomi

Taro Gomi is one of Japan’s most celebrated children’s book authors, having produced over 400 works. Yet it is the simplicity of concept and celebration of everyday life that makes My Friends one of his very best. Conceived in Japan and beloved by babies and toddlers the world over, you’ll see what makes Gomi a master.

17. Little Traveler’s Library, by Abigail Samoun and Sarah Watts

Little hands love little books. Little minds also love learning. This adorable boxed set features 4 pint-sized gems to teach your child to say  “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Please,” and “Thank You,” in Japanese, Russian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and English. Little learners will love packing and unpacking for their linguistic adventure.

18. Color Me: Who’s in the Pond?, by Surya Sajnani

Watch black and white pages magically transform with vivid color. With first-rate drawings of familiar animals, this squeezable and lightweight book definitely brings the aquatic joy. Warning: You may never get your bathing babe out of the tub.

19. Dress Up Jojo, by Xavier Deneux

Meet Jojo, the irresistible young bunny who loves to play dress-up! Parisian artist Xavier Deneux has created a terrifically entertaining book with sturdy, easily movable parts on every page. Curious minds and little hands will have lots of fun joining Jojo as he cheerfully tries new costumes and new adventures.

L is for Love, by Greg Paproki

Introduce your inquisitive babies to the ABCs with this colorful illustrated primer about love and friendship in its many forms. Greg Paprocki’s retro illustrations are classic, but his amorous alphabet is thoroughly modern, filled with lovebirds, sweethearts, BFFs and secret admirers. A terrific way to start a life in letters, this sturdy board book teaches kiddos that L is for love, but it’s also for Literature.

With so many brilliant books hitting the shelves, it can be difficult to sift through the stacks and find the very best. Literati’s curated, age-specific book clubs aim to simplify the process for busy parents who want the best books delivered right to their doorstep.

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