Turtle and Robot’s Top 20 Books for a Baby

Reading is a wonderful activity for new parents. It’s calming and relaxing and, therefore, a perfect fit for the bedtime routine. If you’re holding the infant while reading, the baby can hear your heartbeat and feel your warmth, in addition to being comforted by your soothing voice.

At birth, infants only see black and white—within a week they can see red, orange, yellow and green—and until about eight weeks they are unable to focus on objects beyond eight to ten inches away. So the truth of the matter is, when an infant is under 2 months old, you can read him or her practically anything. At this stage the purpose of reading is more about the bonding activity. If you’ll feel calmer reading Still Life with Bread Crumbs than A Book of Sleep then you should read what makes you relax.

Reading actual books matters more when your baby can focus. And reading board books becomes key when babies start reaching for objects. Made with hard cardboard pages, board books are sturdy and can withstand quite a lot of activity. Their smaller size makes them comfortable for little hands, and the thick, rigid pages are easy to turn. Babies and toddlers get used to holding books, being around books, and including books in their daily lives. Board books can be a part of bonding time, playtime and can increase the likelihood of a lifetime of reading. And that’s the whole point! Think of board books as training wheels for, well, the whole world of books.

I have a standard go-to list of books I buy from whenever someone I know is having, or has just had, a baby. Before sharing that list, there are two things I’d like to say about it.

First, some may notice a few glaring omissions: Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to name a few. That’s because these are some of the most popular choices and it’s likely that someone else may have already gifted them.

Second, there’s not a Sandra Boynton board book I wouldn’t buy or recommend. She’s funny, her art is playful and babies and toddlers eat her books up. Literally. There are a lot of Sandra Boynton books on this list and they, for me, are the crème of the crop.

 

Now, the list.

 

The following three books have bold shapes, in sharp contrast and are best for infants six months and under:

 

Black on WhiteBlackOnWhite

By Tana Hoban

12 pages

Greenwillow

1993

 

White on BlackWhiteonBlack

By Tana Hoban

12 pages

Greenwillow

1993

 

It Looked Like Spilt MilkItLookedLikeSpilt

By Charles G. Shaw

12 pages

HarperFestival

1993

 

 

These are some my favorite Sandra Boynton titles (it really is hard for me to narrow it down):

 

Barnyard DanceBarnyardDance

24 pages

Workmann

1993

 

 

Moo Baa La La LaMooBaa

14 pages

Little Simon

1982

 

 

The Going to Bed BookGoingToBed

14 pages

Little Simon

1982

 

 

But Not the HippopotamusButNottheHippo

14 pages

Little Simon

1982

 

 

Horns to Toes and In BetweenHornstoToes

14 pages

Little Simon

1982

 

 

 

And these books have short, simple stories with bright, attractive art:

 

HugHug

By Jez Alborough

32 pages

Candlewick

2001

 

JamberryJamberry 1

By Bruce Degan

32 pages

HarperFestival

1995

 

See Turtle and Robot’s full review here.

 

I am a BunnyBunnyCover

By Ole Risom

Illustrated by Richard Scarry

26 pages

Golden Books

2004 (reprint)

 

See Turtle and Robot’s full review here.

 

Tumble BumbleTumbleBumble

By Felecia Bond

34 pages

HarperFestival

1999

 

The Snowy DaySnowyDay

By Ezra Jack Keats

28 pages

Viking

1996

 

Good Night GorillaGoodNightGorilla

By Peggy Rathman

34 pages

Putnam Juvenile

1996

 

Time for BedTimeForBed

By Mem Fox

Illustrated by Jane Dyer

28 pages

Red Wagon Books

1997

 

Sheep in a JeepSheepinaJeep

By Nancy E. Shaw

Illustrated by Margot Apple

26 pages

HMH

1997

 

Each Peach Pear PlumEachPeach

By Allen Ahlberg

Illustrated by Janet Ahlberg

32 pages

Viking Juvenile

1999

 

Chugga Chugga Choo ChooChuggaChugga

By Kevin Lewis

Illustrated by Daniel Kirk

32 pages

Disney-Hyperion

2001

 

The Big Red BarnBigRedBarn

By Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrated by Felicia Bond

32 pages

HarperFestival

1995

 

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry BearTheLittleMouse

By Don and Audrey Wood

Illustrated by Don Wood

24 pages

Child’s Ply Intl. Ltd.

1998

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16 Responses so far

  1. 1

    Toni said,

    It was so nice seeing your list it made me remember Jamberry and that it was one of my favorite books. I ordered it right away so that I can read it to my daughter.

  2. 2

    As I read your wonderful list, I am nodding my head and recalling the words and images. Thanks for the (not-too-distant) memories!

  3. 3

    Thank you for providing this list, and your blog. I look forward to purchasing your picks for my new grandbaby, (due in April) and for my sister who owns a pre-school. I’d like to think even babies can discern quality ;)


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