Best Books for Babies and Toddlers

Early literacy starts in utero! You can start reading to baby before and/or right after they are born. What books are best for brand new brains? 

Board books 

Small and sturdy, (card)board books can withstand mouthing and chewing, which is the primary way that babies explore their world! Munching on board books and other baby-safe materials should be allowed and even encouraged, so babies have positive and exploratory experiences with books. Try propping a board book up on the floor during tummy time so baby can look at, hold, and mouth it to their heart’s content!                                          

High contrast 

Babies’ developing brains are processing a lot of information! Since their vision is still developing, baby books with high contrast art and photos capture their attention more effectively. Gazing at these images allows babies’ brains to rest and helps to prevent overstimulation. 


Books that are interactive encourage cognitive and emotional development by prompting the caregiver to ask them to look for, count, and/or name objects or people.  

For example, while reading you can ask your baby: 

  • Can you find the horse on the farm?
  • How many bunnies are in the forest? 
  • Who is the person with the glasses? 

As they age you can ask more open-ended questions: 

  • What do you think will happen next? 
  • The kids are at the beach; have we been to the beach before? 
  • This is the baby’s grandma; where’s your grandma? 

Types of interactive books include: 

Lift-the-flap – paper, cardboard, or fabric flaps hide parts of picture that baby can pull, push, bat around 

“Peek-a-book” – pages have holes to reveal part of next page or an attached finger puppet        

Tactile/sensory – pages have raised parts they can feel, rubber/silicon nubs, sandpaper, soft and course fabric, shiny material, crinkly material, ribbons, etc. 

Nursery rhymes/song lyrics – use related movements, finger plays, puppets  

Concept books – focuses on numbers, letters, shapes, colors       

More tips for reading with babies and toddlers:

It’s normal for your little one’s attention to wander during stories. If baby crawls away or toddler is active while you’re reading, that’s ok! Feel free to skip pages, paraphrase, or stop reading a book before you’ve finished. 

Allow toddlers to pick their own books whenever possible by keeping their books stored on shelves or in bins where they can reach them.  

Create regular daily reading times to ensure that you will make time for reading with your little one every day.  

Point to pictures of characters and objects as you read about them in the text. This simple action can have a big impact; showing your child the illustrations that correspond to your spoken words helps them make meaning of language and learn new concepts. 

Most importantly, have fun reading and talking to your baby and/or toddler!

Recommended board book list:

Books for Babies

List created by Amanda_Rios_Place

Best board books for your baby's and toddler's growing brains!

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