Exploring Children’s Literature Part 3: Books for Babies

Ok, so we all know I’m a total book snob. I love kids books, but they have to be top quality, and is super important in books for babies. I’m a lot more lenient at the library, but in our tiny little house with the four (plus 80 pound dog and a bonus lizard) of us now, it’s even more important that I make sure we’re purchasing and storing only quality books that will be read again and again. Over the years I’ve worked out some guidelines for myself, and I thought I’d share the baby specific ones with you here today.

First off, you will hear over and over, and over again that reading aloud is one of the most important things to do for your baby, but not everyone is as comfortable wandering the children’s book aisles as I am. That’s ok. I promise it’s not scary. Also, you may feel self-conscious when you first start reading out loud. That’s ok too. Some people still (and I swear this is legitimate, I’ve seen it in many, many people) get sweaty, nervous, and stumble over their words. It sends you straight back to second grade reading circle with everyone staring at you. It’s ok. You’ll get more comfortable, just don’t give up. So, some guidelines to hopefully make your reading journey a little easier.


  1. Look for books with engaging “just right” pictures. Pictures should have enough detail to keep your baby busy for the amount of time you’re reading each page. But not so much that your baby is overwhelmed. You’ll find this sweet spot by watching to see how much eye contact your baby makes with the book. If they look away before you’ve finished reading a page, it’s either too simple or too complex. Experiment and play around to find the right level. Remember the level will change as your baby grows.
  2. Try to find a book with rhythmic text that flows comfortably. The point of the story, or the vocabulary matters very little in the beginning, as most words are new to your baby anyway. Find something that you’re comfortable reading, as your comfort level will transfer to your little one.
  3. Don’t stick to just board books. Explore other books for an exciting variety. I myself am typically wary of board book adaptations of stories. I find they take a lot of the fun out of the book by dulling it down too much. If you like a certain book, go ahead and get the full version, and stick to board books that either contain the full story or were written specifically as board books.
  4. Try to make the reading as close to your natural conversational tone as possible. This will engage baby more than a high-pitched “play” tone, or a monotone.
  5. Choose books that are a pleasure for you to read. Your baby will be able to tell if you’re enjoying yourself or not.
  6. Try different positions for reading time. Try laying on your tummies together, or on your backs, or sit side by side in addition to the traditional lap sit.




So I don’t always do recommended book lists because I know it would be totally impossible to actually list every single amazing book out there. But if you’re looking for some basic classics to get you started, here are a few from our shelves. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase one of these books (or anything else from Amazon) by clicking my link I get a small percentage back towards my caffeine needs, but don’t worry, you won’t spend anything more than normal! To see my full disclosure policy click here.

Pajama Time and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
Really, anything by Sandra Boynton. We love her, seriously, just do it. I picked these two specifically for the rhythm and ease of reading, but we have yet to discover one of her books that we don’t love.



Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr.

There is an entire Bear series that follows the same pattern of this classic book, but I like this one the best, especially for young babies. It’s simple, the animals are every day recognizable, and the variety of silly colors makes for a great story time. Plus, you just can’t go wrong with Eric Carle illustrations.




Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon uses a familiar routine, everyday objects (except mush, I don’t think anyone keeps mush in the nursery anymore), and a combination of bright colored and black and white pictures to create an enduring classic.



Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
Another familiar routine book as a little girl and her father count down to bed time. From ten small toes all the way down to one big girl, this soft, gentle book sets a great tone for quiet time.





The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is the full Very Hungry Caterpillar story, but it works for little ones because there’s a lot of textural interest in each page. Overall I feel like Carle’s books are better suited for older preschoolers, but this one and The Very Busy Spider work well for the younger crowd.



You might also be interested in these posts:

Exploring Children’s Literature Part One- Fiction Books for the Preschool Child

Exploring Children’s Literature Part Two- Books for Boys

And if you’re ready to start building your library shelves but are watching your budget (and who isn’t?), please check out this post I found on My Little Poppies this morning- HOW TO BUILD AN AMAZING CHILDREN’S LIBRARY ON A BUDGET




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