Welcome Little One’s top 10 baby books.
If you’re a book lover, you are amongst that band of lucky people who can be transported anywhere in this world-or others, visit any historical era, and be introduced to ideas that might never normally have crossed your mind. And as a member of this group, a fascinating mix of characters will enter and exit your life, leaving you with the memory of a fleeting friendship, or sometimes a shared enemy. We all know how important reading is on the path to accumulating qualifications and ultimately, getting a job. But what about the pleasure it can add throughout one’s life?
The wonderful thing is that, in the same way that your parents, teachers and perhaps family friends first introduced you to this amazing world, you can now give this same precious gift to your children.
And you can’t start too early. At only a few weeks, although babies won’t understand the picture’s meaning, they will be able to start to focus on simple patterns, especially in black and white. And whilst your baby’s brain is developing in response to this stimulus, he or she will enjoy soothing contact and the pleasure of entertainment. Speak softly and make sure there’s a soft blanket within reach and you’ll be creating baby heaven!
Having cloth books, books for bathtime, wonderful touchy-feely books and some classic family favourites around the house from the day your baby is born will make words and pictures a natural part of your baby’s life, creating the foundation for all those wonderful stories to come!
There are hundreds of best baby book lists, each no doubt including personal family favourites. Everyone will have their own happy memories of sharing the family’s exciting adventure in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt followed by the sadness at seeing the bear walking, alone, back to his cave. Or maybe not?
That’s an interesting thing about the world of books: some children will feel sorry for the lonely bear whilst others will feel a sense of relief that the family are safe from the scary bear. Developing the ability to interpret and even empathise, even at a very young age, is a skill which might not be as sensitively learned when using a tablet.
So here’s my list of the best baby and toddler books ever, in no particular order. They’re all wonderful! As Dr Seuss put it so enticingly in his book of the same name ‘Oh the places you’ll see.’ Lucky babies! And lucky you if you’re the one to share these fantastic books with a precious little one.
The Little Black and White Book project by Ruth Bradford
Published only last year, this award winning set of books and flashcards is proving to be a real hit with new parents. Each book contains 12 flash cards with simple, clear images of animals from various regions of the world.
Babies’ retinas aren’t fully developed at birth so they see the world as a blur of black and white. But the high contrast images in these books help to stimulate the brain which then develops visual signals faster and more efficiently. A brilliant idea – and I love the fact that 25% of the profits from every product are donated to conservation and wildlife charities throughout the world.
Baby’s first touchy feely book –Usborne
There are so many touchy feely books out there that it’s hard to choose a favourite but I love this one because of the gorgeous squishy yellow wellies! Featuring simple everyday objects, each page invites babies to touch and experience different materials and textures. An interactive sensory treat for babies and adults alike!
Old Macdonald had a farm puppet book – Little Learner
Babies absolutely love having this book read to them. There are several puppet-peeping through-a hole board books but this is one of my favourite baby songs so it won a place in this list! I’m sure I’m not the only person who enjoys seeing babies reacting to my attempts to make the cow look funny whilst I’m singing my way through the book!
Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This wonderful book has a very special place in my heart. I love it that Allan Ahlberg based it on his own working class babyhood. More proof that babies don’t need expensive toys to enjoy life: just observing the people they love in everyday situations provides no end of stimulation and entertainment. The illustrations of life in a terraced house in 1940s England are superb. And babies love looking though the Peepo hole to see what’s coming next. The rhyming text and repetition, makes reading and listening a pleasure too. Gradually, babies come to know what’s coming next and start to smile with anticipation. Pure gold!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I wonder how many people of all ages have enjoyed this classic introduction to the world of Nature since it was published in 1969. With its wonderfully simple and colourful illustrations, and the loveable caterpillar, it has resulted in a plethora of merchandising to extend its popularity even further. Babies and toddlers love following the progress of the caterpillar, whilst learning about numbers, colours and metamorphosis!
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Another classic Ahlberg treat. The text and the appealing illustrations lead the reader through the world of popular and familiar nursery rhymes, cleverly linking the characters and stories. What a brilliant concept! It engages babies and older readers alike, and even after many readings, there’s something new to see. I love the humour in this book too.
Guess How much I Love You by Sam McBratney Illustrated by Anita Jeram
A classic love story with heart-warming illustrations and the simplest of storylines, this is a wonderful bed time story. Soothing, sentimental and warm, babies seem to enjoy the quietness of this book.
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
I’ve read this book to lots of babies and if given a choice of bedtime reading they often choose this one. They love the interactive lift the flap element of revealing the animals, and enjoy the variety of facial expressions and voices you?re inspired to use to bring the animals to life. Short and cute!
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
This must be one of the saddest stories ever (that poor lonely bear), but the family’s united sense of adventure and commendable determination, coupled with the repetition of the word patterns, make it irresistible-and eternally popular. The illustrations are a treat. I recommend reading the large, hard back version to get the most from this wonderful story.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This is cheating a bit because I think adults enjoy this story more than very young children do. But I couldn’t leave it out. Surely, this 117 year old classic story with its disobedient, loveable protagonist and iconic illustrations is on every book lover’s bookshelf? It brings back very happy, nostalgic memories for me and I can’t see it ever losing its appeal.
So there you have it: hours of potential fun- for very little cost. Books last for years-and their impact lasts for a lifetime. What a privilege it is to be able to introduce our precious little ones to the joys of reading. I’d love to know about your favourite baby and toddler book. Email me at email@example.com to let me know.
Happy book sharing! xx
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