Table of Contents
One of the greatest gifts that a parent can give their child is the gift of reading. Requiring minimal skill and effort, the simple act of reading frequently to your baby can have a huge impact on their lives. So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite and best books to read to newborns and babies.
Benefits of Reading to Babies
While it’s true that a newborn doesn’t yet understand the words or pictures in a book, starting a habit and routine of sharing books from the earliest days lays the foundation for a lifelong love of reading, contributes to brain development, and provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with your baby.
From the beginning, babies are constantly learning and figuring out the world around them, and reading helps them on that journey.
- Just by listening to the cadence of your voice and the rhythms of the rhymes, they are starting to learn speech patterns.
- They will start to build a connection between the words that are read and what they see in the picture. The more that you read, the stronger this connection will be, so do not be concerned if you find yourself reading the same books over and over again!
- By reading a variety of books, they will start to learn more about how the world works and what is happening around them. Furthermore, you can share books about different cultures, different activities, different places – the possibilities are endless!
- Adding expression and emphasis to your voice will help a baby’s emotional development.
- Your baby’s vocabulary will benefit by frequent reading. First, from words that they can understand earlier, and later from words that they can speak. Eventually they will start to point out and name pictures of what they see on the page.
In addition, frequent reading with your baby helps build storytelling skills as you expand their creativity and imagination. Over time, they will be able to differentiate between what is real and what is make-believe.
Finally, reading can be one of the best ways of connecting with your baby. By setting aside some time each day, either at bedtime or during the day (or both!), you can ensure that you are spending some dedicated time to cuddle and enjoy each other through books. Above all, you are showing your child that they are important and that reading is important, allowing your baby to establish a connection between books and happiness.
Keep reading for a list of our top recommended books to read to babies. Be sure, these are tried and tested and loved by children and parents alike.
Our Best Books for Newborns and Babies Under 12 Months
1. Black and White books - Best Books for Newborns
When babies are born, they can only see in black and white, with shades of grey. Then, after about 4 months they will start to develop their colour vision. As such, high-contrast black-and-white books are perfect for newborns.
Your young baby’s eyes are still developing during the first few months. As a result, black and white books with simple lines and big, bold patterns are the easiest for your baby to see. Focusing on these will also help stimulate development of the optic nerve and they will find the pictures and patterns engaging to look at.
There are many high-contrast black-and-white books on the market and many of them will be perfect for your baby.
For example, Look, Look! is filled with high contrast patterns paired with words describing the scenes in curving red font. This is sure to capture the attention of your little one.
Usborne’s baby’s very first black and white book: Babies is another option. In addition to loving high contrast images, babies particularly love to look at pictures of faces and other babies, and this book does both of that. Each page shows a simple black and white image of a baby expressing a familiar feeling or activity. Also, a padded cover makes it comfortable for little hands, making it one of the best books for babies.
2. Indestructibles Books - Best Books for Baby to Play With
Babies love to look at the pictures in a book and enjoy listening to the words. However, they also tend to try to grab, rip, bite, eat, drop and throw (and much more) books as well! It’s normal, they’re exploring their surroundings and trying to figure out how things work. But, it’s not so good for your books!
That’s where the Indestructibles range of books comes in handy. Amazingly, these fabulous little books are made of a nontoxic, paper-like material that can withstand pretty much anything your baby will put it through. They are waterproof, impossible to tear (or chew!), and completely washable. Plus, they include bright engaging illustrations and simple text.
Even better, there are a multitude of books in this range, covering topics from numbers, to animals, games and colours. Some of them also retell common nursery rhymes like Humpty Dumpty and Hickory Dickory Dock.
In particular, we love Baby Faces for young babies. Once again, they will be drawn to images of faces and babies. Moreover, Baby Faces also illustrates some of the common emotions that babies will see and experience.
3. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers - Best Book for Inclusion
This is an absolutely delightful book with engaging rhymes and charming illustrations. It takes the reader on a journey through a baby’s first year, touching effortlessly and rhythmically on all of the different situations that arise – being fed, getting dressed, playing games and more.
Furthermore, the colourful drawings do a fabulous job of being inclusive, representing different types of babies and families, without drawing attention to it in the text. Babies will easily be able to see themselves in all of the pictures.
In addition, every page provides endless discussion points and talking opportunities for your baby. And they will delight at pointing out their favourite drawings on the page.
Note that there are some American English words used, but it doesn’t take away from the lovely story being told. Overall, this was a favourite in our house, and I’m sure it will be in yours as well and we had to include it in our best books to read to newborns.
4. That's not my Teddy by Fiona Watt - Best Touchy-Feely Books
Books that have a sensory element adds an additional dimension of enjoyment for a baby. In general, when a baby can use more of their senses, such as sight, hearing and touch, their connection between the words and the pictures is enhanced.
The That’s not my … series of books are leaders in the sensory touch and feel book market, and for good reason. These books combine a touchy-feely element with simple, repetitive text and clear bold illustrations.
Every page includes a simple That’s not my … sentence with a bright picture, including a textured patch which is irresistible for little fingers. To be sure, these are fun and interactive books which will delight your baby.
Importantly, the books are sturdy and tough, made to withstand the rough handling expected by young children, which is great as they will undoubtedly by read time and time again.
As an added bonus, keep an eye out for the little white mouse on every page!
5. Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton - Best Baby Books for Fun
This beloved Sandra Boynton classic remains a favourite among children and parents alike. The silly rhymes and illustrations provide a great introduction to animal sounds and will delight your baby. Guaranteed, they will love listening to the silly noises you make, and it won’t be long before they join in and make their own sounds.
Overall, it’s a short and sweet book, making it the perfect length to maintain your baby’s attention through to the end.
Also be sure to check out the complete range of Sandra Boynton’s books, they really are some of the best books for newborns. Undoubtedly, they will add some fun and silliness to storytime with your baby.
6. Where is Baby's Belly Button by Karen Katz - Best Lift-the-Flap Book
This is a simple but fun book that is sure to engage and delight your baby as they try to figure out where the different body parts are on each page. Undoubtedly, any baby who loves peekaboo will be entertained by this book.
In addition, it has lovely big, sturdy liftable flaps that make it even more enjoyable for older babies (around 9 months), and the illustrations are bright and bold.
7. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle - Best Book for Fun Sounds
Little Blue Truck is a charming and fun story about the importance of friends and helping others. Including lots of vehicle noises and animal sounds, the rhyming text and bright detailed illustrations will keep your baby engaged and wanting more.
Furthermore, it’s a fun read for parents as well, with a great rhythm, and is just the right length for short attention spans. This one is sure to be requested again and again over the years.
8. Time For Bed by Mem Fox - Best Book for Baby's Bedtime
Time For Bed is a perfect book for coaxing your baby into a soothing sleep. We love the rhythmic text on each page as the little animals all around are getting ready for bed.
Overall, the beautiful illustrations show cosy and caring images and will help to relax your baby at bedtime or naptime.
9. Sometimes I like to Curl up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill - Best Book for Rhyme
It seems that wombats, like children, like to explore the world around them! Follow Little Wombat through his day and discover his favourite things to do. This book provides so much opportunity to immerse your baby in the story by acting out the text, which will make it even more engaging and fun (think jumping, spinning and funny faces!).
In short, they will delight in the joyful rhymes and colourful illustrations, and will relate to Little Wombat, especially at the end when we find out what he likes to do best of all!
10. One Little Baby by Richard Dungworth - Best Book for Baby's Day
It may just be about one baby, but One Little Baby is really telling the story of every baby and every baby’s day. Your baby will be engaged by the simple, charming illustrations and will giggle along with the baby’s adventures.
Routines are so important in a baby’s life, as it provides them with security as to what to expect. And this book does a great job of highlighting the typical daily routine of a baby.
As the story winds down, so will your baby, making this an ideal book to be shared at bedtime
11. Where’s Spot by Eric Hill - Best Classic Book for Babies
Where’s Spot is a classic lift-the-flap book which has stood the test of time. Really, many parents probably remember reading it when they were young!
Babies will delight in following along on the search for the lovable puppy, Spot. With sturdy board pages and enticing card flaps, babies are encouraged to join in the hunt around the house.
Overall, the playful text and animal surprises under each flap make this an engaging and fun read.
Conclusion - Best Books to Read to Newborns and Babies Under 1 Year
Overall, we don’t think you can go wrong with any of the books listed here. They have been and continue to be favourites in our house, and we hope that you have gotten some ideas of the best books to read to newborns and babies to add to your own home library.