From sweet and sturdy board books to bestselling favorites and personalized storybooks, reading aloud to babies is an essential first step in early learning and development. In addition to making wonderful new baby gifts, books provide the perfect opportunity to introduce a baby to new concepts. It can also help them develop language and communication skills, and assist in making sense of the world around them.
So, whether you’re looking to bond with your baby over timeless classics, encourage hands-on interaction with touch-and-feel books, or capture their imagination through colorful images and illustrations, you’ll find 55 of the best baby books to stock your child’s library in the list below.
1. You Can Be Anything
Do you know what it’s like to have a big dream? Written by SuAnn Kiser and artfully illustrated by John Joven, You Can Be Anything is a story that encourages kids to explore all the possibilities, to develop their talents, and share their gifts with others. With a message to believe in yourself and always do what’s right—along with the ability to personalize the story with your child’s name—this inspirational book is a favorite gift for new babies and young kids.
2. The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Emily Winfield Martin’s New York Times bestseller, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, is a beautifully illustrated rhyming story that conveys all the wonderful things parents think of when they look at their children—from brave to bold and creative to clever. This hardcover book is a stand-out gift for baby showers and birthday parties.
A fun board book that should be a staple in every baby’s first library, Peak-a-Who?, written and illustrated Nina Laden, uses vibrant, colorful illustrations and rhyming text to help little ones guess what’s peeking through the die-cut holes within its pages. With guesses and giggles and a surprising ending, this book is a perfect gift for babies and toddlers.
4. Goodnight Moon
The quiet rhymes and gentle illustrations in this classic book by Margaret Wise Brown make it the perfect story to read to a child before bed. In Goodnight Moon, the main character, a bunny, says goodnight to everything and everyone in his room because he loves them all. It’s a wonderful way to teach little ones to be grateful for the world around them. One of the most beloved books of all time, it is a must-have for the library in your baby’s room.
5. Where The Wild Things Are
One of the most beloved and highly acclaimed children’s stories of all time, Where The Wild Things Are is an award-winning classic story masterfully written and illustrated by American author Maurice Sendak. Originally published in 1963, this classic story is about a boy who misbehaves and is sent to his room without dinner. There, his bedroom is transformed into a fantastic jungle full of beasts known as “Wild Things.”
6. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
This classic tale by Dr. Suess attempts to prime young readers against all the misadventures that can happen in life—from bang-ups and hang-ups to lurches and slumps—and encourages all of us to take these things in stride. With a combination of silly illustrations and hilarious rhymes, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is a perfect read for a young child or anyone beginning a new phase in their life.
7. The Runaway Bunny
This beloved tale, first published in 1942, is indeed a classic. Another book by Margaret Wise Brown, The Runaway Bunny, tells the tale of a young bunny who decides to run away from home. But, no matter what he does, his mother always manages to find him. With dreamy illustrations and the soothing rhythm of the story, it gives readers a warm sense of security. It’s a perfect story to reassure any child who has ever doubted a mother’s love.
8. The Giving Tree
“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.” So begins this timeless picture book about love, generosity, and acceptance. Beloved for more than 50 years, The Giving Tree, written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein, follows the story of a boy who grows to manhood and old age having experienced the generosity of a tree that gives to him without expectation of anything in return. The touching story teaches the concepts of love, responsibility, greed, giving, and receiving.
9. Sweet Dreams
Reading the personalized storybook, Sweet Dreams, by acclaimed artist Mary GrandPré and author Jennifer Dewing will become a treasured part of your child’s bedtime routine. Marching mice, dancing dogs, leaping sheep, and a hooting owl dance along with the pages of this rhyming book, spelling out your child’s name as they go. With its gorgeous illustrations and personalization, this book is sure to be a favorite.
10. I Wish You More
Unlike a typical story with a main character, I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is more of a gift book than a storybook. It’s a very uplifting book that wishes a child more positives than negatives in their life. With thoughtful illustrations and well-wishes, like “I wish you more good than bad” and “I wish you more give than take,” this book is sure to bring positivity and encouragement to any child who reads it.
11. Belly Button Book
In this adorable board book, cartoonist, children’s author, and songwriter Sandra Boynton uses a family of bare-bellied hippos to celebrate an often-ignored body part—the belly button! With a big belly-button-shaped die-cut hole in the book’s cover and sturdy pages made for little hands, Belly Button Book will be a favorite for little kids who are learning about their bodies.
12. Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed
“Five little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head.” This hilariously goofy rhyming tale by Eileen Christelow uses silly little misbehaving monkeys to teach counting as each one jumps on the bed—then, one by one, they fall off and hurt themselves. With its silly illustrations and mischievous main characters, Five Little Monkeys is a fun read and a classic bedtime story.
13. A Bear Called Paddington
He’s a famous movie star now, but this is the classic book that started it all. Originally published in 1958, A Bear Called Paddington is the first book in the popular series about a bear who traveled all the way from Peru and met the Brown family. For generations, Michael Bond’s lovable bear has charmed readers of all ages with his good intentions and misadventures. The Paddington Bear books are a must-have in your child’s library. Pair with a stuffed bear the little one can grow up with.
14. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
Another beloved children’s book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff, tells the story of a little boy who offers a cookie to a mouse, thus setting off a chain reaction that illustrates how one thing leads to another, teaching important lessons about cause and effect. If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to need a glass of milk to wash it down; then he’ll need a straw to drink the milk, and so on. It’s the first introduction of Mouse, the star of a whole series of popular “If You Give…” stories.
15. Are You My Mother?
Written by P.D. Eastman and edited by Dr. Suess, Are You My Mother? is a hilarious Beginner Book perfect for children who are just learning how to read on their own. It follows the story of a baby bird who falls from his nest and sets out in search of his mother. He asks everyone he meets along the way—including a dog, a cow, and even an airplane— “Are you my mother?” The timeless story about the bond between mother and child makes it a must-give gift for baby showers, birthdays, or Mother’s Day.
16. Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes
Aimed at toddlers who are learning all about their bodies, Judy Hindley’s rhythmic tale follows a cast of multicultural toddlers as they point out the different parts of their bodies. Eyes, Nose, Fingers, and Toes is an enthusiastic celebration of what the body can do—from the eyes and ears to mouth and hands and everything in between.
17. A Monster Ate My Name
Few things keep kids as engaged as when they’re the star of the story. Written by Kimberly Schultz and illustrated by Courtney Dawson, A Monster Ate My Name puts your little one at the center of the story. In this exciting personalized tale, a monster eats your child’s name and the only way to get it back is to bake a pie made from an alphabet of ridiculous ingredients! A personal message at the front of the book makes it extra-giftable.
18. Baby Signs
Long before they’re able to utter a word, babies have lots to say. Baby Signs is an introduction to communicating with sign language. Geared toward babies as young as six months, it teaches 13 essential early word signs so babies can express their needs, wants, and feelings. They’ll learn how to communicate a wet diaper, a hungry belly, ask for help, and more, all through sign language.
19. Harry The Dirty Dog
If you’re looking for a book for a child that hates the bath, look no further than Harry The Dirty Dog. First published in 1956, this children’s classic tells the hilarious tale of a white dog with black spots who absolutely despises taking baths. One day, he gets so dirty that his family mistakes him for a black dog with white spots, and no one recognizes him. When youngsters hear this story, they’ll totally relate to the urge to skip a bath, the thrill of getting filthy, and the reassurance from family.
20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
“In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf.” So begins Eric Carle’s modern classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. So popular that a copy is sold somewhere around the world every 30 seconds, this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a caterpillar who starts out tiny and very hungry. He literally eats his way through the book, becomes large, then spins himself into a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly. In this early learning interactive book, your little one is taught the days of the week.
Voted one of the top 100 children’s books of the last 100 years, Don Freeman’s 1968 classic tale tells the story of a bear who has been sitting on a department store shelf for a long time waiting for someone to buy him. Corduroy follows the bear’s exciting adventures through the department store as he tries to find himself a new button, hoping that will help him find a home. This irresistible classic is all about finding friendship.
22. The Colors Of Us
Author, Karen Katz created The Colors of Us for her daughter, Lena, who was adopted from Guatemala. It’s a positive look at the differences in skin color, from the perspective of an artist. In the book, Lena wants to paint a picture of herself with brown paint. That’s when she learns that brown comes in many shades. This wonderful modern story celebrates children’s open-mindedness and then brings to light the differences (and similarities) that connect us all.
23. Good Night, Gorilla
“Good night, Gorilla,” says the zookeeper. But the mischievous gorilla isn’t ready for bed yet. This riotous bedtime tale from Peggy Rathmann follows the story of an unobservant zookeeper and the ape that steals his keys and releases all the animals in the zoo. Who will get the last laugh? Available as a durable board book, Good Night, Gorilla will stand up to rough-and-tumble toddlers and years of repeat readings.
24. Love You Forever
A woman holds her newborn son and looks at him lovingly. Softly she sings to him: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.” Written by Robert Munsch, so begins Love You Forever, a touching tale about growing up and the enduring nature of a mother’s love. As he grows from a baby to a man, his mother secretly rocks every night as he sleeps.
25. Green Eggs And Ham
Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books use simple words and illustrations to encourage young readers. Green Eggs and Ham is a Beginner Book by the great Dr. Seuss that stars Sam-I-Am who, in poetic verse, tells his friend about the virtues of green eggs and ham. It’s a classic tale of “try it, you’ll like it” that teaches youngsters they cannot dislike something they’ve never tried.
26. Harold And The Purple Crayon
Harold and the Purple Crayon is Crockett Johnson’s ingenious and imaginative tale about a small boy who uses a magic purple crayon to draw himself into many adventures. The story starts out on a moonless night when Harold decides to go for a walk. So, he draws himself a moon and a path to walk on. The concept behind this classic book keeps kids completely absorbed in its pages while teaching them cause and effect.
27. Where The Sidewalk Ends
Meet a boy who turns into a television, a girl who eats a whale, and Cynthia Sylvia Stout, who will not take the garbage out. In this hilarious collection of poems and drawings that stretch the bounds of our imaginations, Where The Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. With its silly words and simple illustrations, children of all ages will delight in reading this book.
28. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
The pages of this beloved book are filled with unique, colorful collages by acclaimed author and illustrator Eric Carle. Combined with the rhythmic text by Bill Martin, Jr., a brown bear, a purple cat, a red bird, a blue horse, and a yellow duck are all featured in the classic kid’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Available as a board book, it’s a perfect story for reading to babies and teaching colors and animals to toddlers.
29. The Snowy Day
Ezra Jack Keats’ book, The Snowy Day captures all the magic a child feels with a first snowfall. Follow along as Peter, a little boy in the city, makes snowballs, snow angels, and slides down mountains of snow. Winner of the 1963 Caldecott Medal, this story captures all the wonder and beauty a snowy day can bring to a small child. A trailblazing book for its time, The Snowy Day was the very first full-color picture book to feature a small black hero.
Here’s a picture book every parent should have in their home library. A Caldecott Medal winner, Tuesday portrays the whimsical tale of a day when frogs were airborne on their lily pads. Purely illustrative, this inventive story has no written words but it manages to speak volumes. David Wiesner’s watercolor paintings draw readers into the fantastic world of flying frogs.
31. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
A book that belongs on the bookshelf of every child, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day tells the tale of a boy who has the worst day ever. From the moment he gets out of bed, everything goes wrong for Alexander, but he is consoled by the thought that everyone else has bad days, too. This funny book will help children learn to find the humor in their own bad days.
32. My Jungle Adventure
Imagine what it would be like to forget the rules and just be a jungle animal. When you make your little one the star of the story, they can do just that. In My Jungle Adventure, they’ll roar with the lions, race a cheetah, swing with monkeys, and play with an elephant in this personalized storybook that puts your kid front and center. You can even add a photo so they’ll see their own face incorporated into the book.
33. The Cat In The Hat
No young person’s library is complete without a copy of Dr. Seuss’ 1957 classic, The Cat In The Hat. The very first Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss and Random House, this book’s simple words and illustrations changed the way children learned how to read. It follows the tale of Dick and Sally, two kids who are bored on a rainy day—that is until the Cat in the Hat shows up, bringing adventure and chaos, much to the dismay of the family’s pet goldfish.
34. Press Here
The longest-running picture book on the New York Times bestseller list, Hervé Tullet’s interactive book Press Here teaches little ones how to interact with the world around them. It instructs the reader to push the button, shake it up, tilt the book, and see what happens—using no special effects other than the power of imagination. This book belongs on the bookshelf of every nursery or kid’s room.
35. My Trip To The Alphabet Zoo
Your child is the star of this personalized adventure wonderfully written by SuAnn Kiser and adorably illustrated by Fia Kilbourn. My Trip to the Alphabet Zoo tells a tale of your child visiting the zoo and meeting all the animals. From the Antsy Antelope to the Odd Octopus, the Polite Penguin to the Zany Zebra, this exciting story teaches your little one the alphabet while making him or her the main character of the story.
36. The Magic Hat Shop
Not simply a story about magic hats and bonnets, The Magic Hat Shop teaches all about the importance of being yourself. Sonja Wimmer’s critically acclaimed book tells the tale of a hat shop that mysteriously appears in the center of town. When the townspeople put on their magic hats, they come to realize the real magic comes from within. The breathtaking illustrations and whimsical story are published in a book that will be a wonderful addition to any child’s collection.
37. The Day The Crayons Quit
What would happen if you reached into your box of crayons only to discover that they’d all had enough? Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers’ The Day The Crayons Quit answers that curious question when young Duncan sits down to color and, instead of finding his crayons, discovers a letter they’ve all written sharing their grievances and refusing to color again. Creative kids and budding artists will love this hilarious story. Continue the conversation by asking kids what their own crayons would write in a letter.
38. Tikki Tikki Tembo
Tikki Tikki Tembo is the hilarious retelling of an ancient Chinese folktale from the clever minds of Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent. According to legend, a boy with a very long and honorable—and hard to pronounce—name fell into a well. But, most of the time trying to rescue the boy is spent teaching others how to say his name. As a result, Chinese families today always give their children short, easy-to-say names. Babies will giggle and toddlers will belly laugh listening to mom or dad try to pronounce Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo- chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo, too!
One of the oldest books on this list, Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans, was first published back in 1939 and, to this day, remains a childhood favorite. The rhyming tale follows Madeline, the smallest and bravest little girl at a boarding school in Paris while she has to have her appendix removed. A true classic, this book continues to enchant readers after more than 80 years.
For more than 90 years, Winnie-the-Pooh, along with his menagerie of cute and clever companions, has endured as one of the world’s most treasured literary creations ever written. Children of all ages will adore following along on the adventures of Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Rabbit, and so many more beloved characters imagined by author A.A. Milne and brought to life by illustrator Ernest H. Shepard. Winnie-The-Pooh is a simple essential for any baby’s library.
41. Go, Dog. Go!
P.D. Eastman’s popular Beginner Book, Go, Dog. Go! is a classic vocabulary-building book that introduces young kids to colors and simple directional concepts through the silly activities and interactions of four-legged friends. Dogs of different colors, sizes, and shapes drive all manner of vehicles up, down, around, and over, ultimately ending up at a fun and exciting dog party. The simple storyline and easy vocabulary make this a great book for babies, toddlers, or kids just beginning to read on their own.
Kids will love learning the alphabet by browsing through the pages of this encyclopedic alphabetical animal book. Each page of Graeme Base’s Animalia transports the reader to a whimsical world filled with curious creatures, enchanting illustrations and imaginative alliterations. Young readers will spend hours searching for obscure objects, unusual animals, and incredible ideas among the book’s peculiar pages.
43. 1-2-3 Come Explore With Me
Your kiddo will be absolutely amazed when they see their face printed on the pages of this exciting adventure book. 1-2-3 Come Explore With Me is a custom-printed, personalized storybook that cleverly introduces kids to letters, shapes, numbers, and colors while exploring the world via plane, train, firetruck, and rocketship. They’ll love searching for their name printed among whimsical and colorful illustrations that help to tell this fun and adventurous story.
44. Touch And Explore Farm
They may not have everyday access to a farm and all the animals that live there, but babies and toddlers can imagine they’re in a barn or on a pasture when they touch, turn, and flip through the pages of Touch And Explore Farm. Kids will learn which animals are wooly and which ones are soft, which animal says “moo,” and which one clucks all within the sturdy pages of this hands-on book.
45. Before & After
This cleverly illustrated picture book is both educational and thought-provoking without the use of a single word of text. Before & After, by author/illustrators Matthias Aregui Margot and Anne-Ramstein, uses sequential images and illustrations to depict the passage of time. Of course a tiny acorn grows into a mighty oak and a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly, but kids will also consider more complex before-and-after scenarios, like a single sheet of cake being built into a towering layer cake before being eaten back down to a single slice.
46. Everywhere Babies
A charming and sweet book written in rhyme with a soothing and calm cadence, Susan Meyers’ Everywhere Babies adorably describes that many things babies do, every day, everywhere, and all over the world throughout the first year of their lives. Inclusive of a variety of cultures, family dynamics, and parenting styles, the one thing every baby in this book has in common is just how much they’re loved and adored.
47. The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Among the most beloved books of all time, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale Of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1902. For more than a century, the story of the mischievous rabbit and his playful friends has been delighting babies and parents alike. The story is timeless, the illustrations are charming and the lessons learned within the pages have been taught for more than a hundred years.
48. Pantone: Colors
So much more than a simple book to teach kids their colors, Pantone: Colors is a vibrant exploration into the nine most basic colors and twenty variations of each. Using stunning visuals and alluring graphics, Helen Dardik’s illustrations teach kids that one color name can include endless variations of lighter, darker and in-between shades.
49. Baby Touch And Feel: Animals
The Baby Touch And Feel series introduces babies and toddlers to a variety of touchable textures, foils, and glitters on each page of the durable padded board books. In Animals, babies can reach out and touch each of 10 adorable animals, like a fluffy duck, a furry dog, a scaly fish, or a leathery elephant. Use storytime with this fun book as a way to teach animal sounds, too.
For babies that love to play peekaboo and pretend, each spread in this clever board book doubles as a face mask for extra fun. Peekaboo!, by award-winning Japanese children’s book author Taro Gomi, features cut-out eye holes on each page. When held up to their face, kids will love pretending to be a frog, a cat, bear, robot, and more, all while learning fun facts and clever quips about their favorite creatures.
51. My Very Busy Day On Sesame Street
If your child dreams of one day joining their favorite Sesame Street characters for a day of fun, they’ll love this custom-printed, personalized storybook where they become an illustrated character among all their favorites. My Very Busy Day On Sesame Street follows along with your child as they share a snack with Cookie Monster, throw a dance party with Zoe, and go hiking with Bert and Ernie.
52. Baby Faces
Designed and created especially for babies that like looking, touching and, yes, tasting their books, Baby Faces is part of the Indestructibles series of books that are rip-proof, waterproof, tear-proof, chew-proof, and completely washable. Among the pages of Kate Merritt’s cleverly illustrated soft-page book, babies will ooh and ahh over other babies’ silly faces, expressions, and reactions, creating the perfect opportunity to teach kids about emotion.
53. Pat The Bunny
One of the best selling children’s books of all time, Dorothy Kinhardt’s timeless classic Pat The Bunny has been a nursery room staple for more than 75 years. The touch-and-feel board book sparks curiosity through touching the bunny’s soft fur, feeling a sandpapery texture of “daddy’s scratchy face,” playing peek-a-boo, sniffing scented flowers, looking into a mirror, and more. Babies and toddlers will delight in turning the pages of this interactive classic.
54. Goodnight Songs
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and beautifully illustrated by a dozen award-winning children’s book artists, Goodnight Songs is a collection of delightful original lullabies that are perfect for reading or softly singing to baby at bedtime. Each sweet lyrical poem is paired with a whimsical illustration that’ll inspire only the sweetest of dreams.
55. All Aboard! National Parks
Written by the husband and wife team of Haily and Kevin Meyers, All Aboard! National Parks takes children on a cross-country train ride through the pages of this adventurous book. Instill an early appreciation for travel, nature, animals, and the great outdoors through exploration of our incredible national parks. As they grow, they’ll love looking back and remembering the places they’ve been while dreaming of adventures to come. As an added bonus, if your toddler room has an animal or adventure theme, the pages of this beautifully illustrated book will make great wall decor, too.
Resources Related to Baby Books
Whether you’re reading your little one a bedtime story, keeping a child entertained on a rainy day, or you’re looking for a great baby shower gift, any one of these timeless stories will be a welcome addition on a child’s bookshelf. And, while you’re shopping for the perfect new baby gift, we’re here to help with ideas and inspiration like custom baby blankets and baby photo books.