I’ve always loved children’s literature, and even more so since I studied it in my Library Studies Master’s Degree program. I started my collection of children’s books before I seriously considered having a baby, and I joke that the books are actually for me.
My collection probably clocks in at a hundred or more! It’s definitely one area in which I would not consider myself “minimalist” (however, to be fair, each book does bring me joy!). Luckily we have a big, old armoire which I use to store all of the books (including some very precious ones that my little guy isn’t allowed to handle on his own yet).
Now that I have a little one, it’s even more of a treat to revisit favourites from my childhood, as well as learn about fantastic new books coming out all the time.
So far my son loves books. Scott and I are both major bookworms, so I’m not sure he has a choice, haha! It absolutely melts my heart every time he grabs a book and curls up in my lap (or Scott’s lap) for cuddles and reading time. Definitely one of my favourite parts of the day. He loves interacting and talking about what he sees in the pictures, and he often “reads” the pages by himself, copying my tone.
Why read to babies?
All of the research indicates that reading with babies is wonderful–and important. Babies are so much smarter than we think. They’re universal linguists, constantly taking in the world around them and soaking it up like sponges, learning language and vocabulary at a rate unlike anything we’ll ever achieve again in our lives. The more we talk with our babies, sing to our babies, read to our babies, and otherwise expose our babies to language, the better. Babies also learn best from faces and human interaction, so as much as possible, it’s best to avoid relying too much on screens (granted, it’s sometimes difficult, I know!).
Best books for babies
This is a very subjective list, based on my training in children’s literature (theory) and my time seeing what my son likes best (practice). I’d be lying if I said that my own personal preferences didn’t play a part, too!
Just a note: I say “babies” because these were favourites from when he was quite small. They’re still staples in our home, but he has since moved on to some more complex books. I suppose this list is for “babies and very young toddlers.”
This Caldecott Honor Book is a classic bedtime story with a beautiful rhythm. I honestly don’t mind reading it a dozen times in a row (which, of course, my son demands) because it is so lovely.
According to Molly Bang’s website, “When I took the finished book down to New York, the editors told me I had most likely cut my audience by at least a half, with the child being a girl and the family African-American.” Needless to say, they proceeded anyway, and it has clearly resonated with millions of families around the world, including ours.
One of the things that we love about this book is that the pictures are simple and filled with images that J recognizes. He points and says, “shoes!”, “cat!”, “toes!”. It’s just the best.
A classic for a reason. I always find it hilarious to see how much babies love looking at pictures of babies. They find babies much more interesting than adults, and this book has no shortage of baby pictures to delight little ones.
The book not only has a cute rhythm to it, but also has a sweet message: that all babies from around the world are the same. (My pet peeve is that there’s a picture of a penguin at the Arctic, but I digress.)
J loves pointing and shouting, “Baby!” at each of the babies. My favourite is at the end when he says “Mama! Baby” pointing at the page, and then “Mama! Baby!” pointing at us.
Many of you will remember this one from your childhoods–myself included.
Get your animal sounds ready! This is a wonderful book to use to teach different animals (and colours) in a fun way. It also has lots of sequels, so if you ever get tired of the darn purple cat, there are lots of others to mix it up with.
We picked up this little gem at a bookstore on the Sunshine Coast and I’m so glad we did. It quickly became one of our favourites for its lullaby-like, calming rhythm.
I adore the artwork of Roy Henry Vickers so much that I have some of his art framed and hung up in my little entryway. When I realized it was the same artist who illustrated this book, I was so excited! It really is some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen in a children’s book. And of course, I love that it celebrates the animals and scenery of the BC’s west coast.
No matter where you’re from, I think it’s important to support local artists, and that includes writers and illustrators. I encourage everyone to search for children’s books by local writers and illustrators! You won’t be disappointed.
Full disclosure: I didn’t love this book when I first received it as a gift. It isn’t gorgeous, and it doesn’t have a beautiful message. But guess what? Babies love it. And I understand why. It’s fun, funny, and super cute. It even makes adults chuckle. My son loves making all the animal sounds and I barely have to read it to him–he knows every page by heart. I’ve come around: I’m a Sandra Boynton fan!
What are your favourite books for babies? I’d love to hear your recommendations!