Emma’s Favorite Books for Babies & Toddlers

Voracious readers are made, not born. No child is born loving baseball or pizza; they learn to like what they see their parents liking.”– Bernice E. CullinanRead to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read

Many parents don’t read – or even talk much – to their infants, because they think they are too young to understand. This is backwards thinking. In fact, talking, singing, and reading to your baby are how he or she learns language.

There are many wonderful resources for parents to learn more about the critical role we play in our child’s brain development: Zero to Three‘s website (www.zerotothree.org) is a great place to start, as are the books and websites of T. Berry Brazelton (www.touchpoints.org) and Dr. William Sears (www.askdrsears.com). Other personal favorites of mine include books by Penelope Leach, The Gesell Institute’s Child Development SeriesMothering magazine, and Rob Reiner’s I Am Your Child DVDs, available through www.parentsactionstore.org.

The following is a list of books for infants, babies, and toddlers that continue to be time-tested favorites. You can click on any of the titles to purchase them directly from Amazon.com:

Biscuit series (Alyssa Satin Capucilli) – The adventures of a lovable pup and the little girl who owns him. Picture books, Lift-the-Flaps, and I Can Reads.

Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton) – Anything by Sandra Boynton is a laugh a minute – but this one, featuring a chicken with a mixed-up clothes sense, is a special favorite.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle) –A wonderful introduction to animals and colors, told in rhyme, with the incomparable artwork of Eric Carle.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin, Jr./John Archambault/Lois Ehlert) –Infectious rhythm and rhyme, vibrant art. Great for teaching the alphabet, including upper- and lowercase letters.

Counting Kisses (Karen Katz) – Count-and-kiss along as each family member kisses baby goodnight.

Caterpillar’s Wish (Mary Murphy) – Caterpillar wishes she could fly with her best friends, bee and ladybug – and one day she just may! Vibrant colors, simple text, and a sweet, affirming story.

Daddy’s Lullaby (Tony Bradman/Jason Cockcroft) – Arriving home late from work, Daddy finds everyone in the family sleeping soundly… except baby. Together they walk, rock, and sing until they fall asleep.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Dr. Seuss)- The best – and silliest – ABC of all. Sure to bring about smiles and learning with every repeat reading.

  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – “… from there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!” Dr. Seuss at his early-childhood best.
  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? – There isn’t a sound Mr. Brown can’t do, from a hippo’s gum chewing to a goldfish’s kiss. Giggles – and sound effects – galore.
  • The Foot Book – Dr. Seuss’s “Wacky Book of Opposites.”

Go, Dog, Go! (P.D. Eastman) – A Seuss-style classic that teaches colors, shapes, language, and diversity in one simple, funny tale.

Goodnight, Moon (Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd) – A little rabbit preparing for bed says goodnight to everyone and everything in his world. The perfect, classic bedtime story.

  • Runaway Bunny – A little bunny’s imaginary hide-and-seek game with his Mom, who finds him, reassuringly, each time.

Guess How Much I Love You (Sam McBratney/Anita Jeram) – A heartwarming tale, featuring the beloved Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, and celebrating familial love with humor and insight.

Happy Birth Day! (Robie Harris/Michael Emberley) – A Mom tells of baby’s first 24 hours of life outside the womb, and shows how loved children are from the very start.

Maisy series (Lucy Cousins) – Simple stories about an endearing mouse and her friends, told in large print with colorful illustrations.

Max and Ruby series (Rosemary Wells) – Rosemary Wells’ classic bunny duo (and hit TV series): Ever-patient big sister Ruby and her impossible, irrepressible baby brother, Max.

Mr. Men and Little Miss series (Roger Hargreaves) – Child-size paperbacks featuring such lovable characters as Mr. Happy, Mr. Messy, Mr. Shy, Little Miss Trouble, and Little Miss Perfect – with simple, brightly colored line drawings children love.

My Very First Mother Goose (Iona Opie (Editor)/Rosemary Wells) – Those familiar and beloved staples of childhood verse, bursting with new life.

The Naughty Ducklings (Stewart Crowly/Susi Adams) – A group of ducklings explore the world in this charming “magic-window board book” that reveals new images through each windowed page.

Pat the Bunny (Dorothy Kunhardt) – One of the very first “interactive” books, originally published in 1940 – but as beloved today by babies everywhere as they play peek-a-boo, try on Mommy’s ring and, of course, pat the bunny.

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young (Jack Prelutsky/Marc Brown) – Two hundred poems selected by one America’s best-loved poets, with a foreword on reading aloud by Jim Trelease and art by Marc Brown of “Arthur” – what could be better?

Sam’s Little Sister (Yves Got) – Sam loves his little sister, even when she doesn’t get everything right. Kids do, too, and are reassured by the gentle lessons on sibling rivalry – and devotion – that Sam and his sister provide.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) – A caterpillar munches his way to butterfly-hood in this beloved classic from the masterful Eric Carle.

The Wheels on the Bus (Paul O. Zelinsky) – The wheels on the bus actually do go round and round, and the windows go up and down, and everything works in this wonderful, interactive adaptation of the classic song – complete with sub-plots hidden within the illustrations.

Where’s Spot? – (The Spot series) (Eric Hill) – Babies can lift the flaps, chew on board books and learn to read with the simple tales of Spot the puppy and his friends and family.

You Can Name One Hundred Trucks! (Jim Becker, Andy Mayer/Randy Chewning) – One of Sam’s early and enduring favorites – and indeed, he could name all 100 of them.

and any books by…

  • Sandra Boynton
  • Eric Carle
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Rosemary Wells
  • Margaret Wise Brown