Best books for babies
Nationally-acclaimed list created by librarians and child development experts includes quality books that are not only fun and colorful, but vital to babies’ early development.
Babies love books. Cuddling up with a caregiver, looking at pictures and listening to the rhythm of words, whether they understand them or not, can be comforting, exciting or just plain fun. Every parent needs to know two things when it comes to babies: it’s never too early to begin reading aloud to them and doing so is a phenomenal means of starting babies on the path to educational success.
And librarians love lists. Each year since 2000 a panel of Pittsburgh librarians and child development experts has selected the ten Best Books for Babies published in the previous year to offer assistance to parents, teachers and caregivers in selecting quality materials to share with babies age birth to 18 months.
This year’s selections help parents dip their baby’s toes into experiences that revolve around different animals, colors, shapes and cultures, as well as exploring different actions, expressions, words and sounds.
According to Lisa Dennis, Coordinator of Children’s Collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, chair of the committee, the top ten titles this year were selected from more than 100 titles submitted for consideration by publishers, committee members and local librarians.
“The important thing is to shower your child with sounds and language, warmth and affection,” advises Dennis. “Parents, teachers and caregivers can use this list, as well as those from previous years, to select quality materials to share with the very youngest listeners. Word by word, book by book, you’re preparing your baby for educational success and lifelong enjoyment.”
The Best Books for Babies committee used the following criteria for selecting this year’s titles: the story sounded good when read aloud; the book encouraged reader participation and interaction; the text had interesting language and introduced children to new vocabulary; illustrations were engaging, interesting, and designed for children; and the books were free from gender, ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes.
100 First Words by Dawn Sirett (DK Publishing)
A mix of photos and illustrations in bright colors on big, sturdy pages offers plenty of opportunities to point and say the names of body parts, clothes, toys, colors, food, pets and more.
El Autobús by Chris Demarest and Carlos Calvo (Houghton Mifflin)
Simple phrases in Spanish and English accompany energetic, stylized illustrations in primary colors outlined in black to showcase the sights and activities of a busy urban environment.
Black White by Tana Hoban (Greenwillow Books)
Animals, toys and everyday objects appear in crisp black or white silhouette in this wordless board book perfect for sharing with infants.
Cat Nap by Toni Yuly (Feiwel & Friends)
Interesting perspectives and sly humor enhance the story of a playful kitten’s interactions with a tired but tolerant older cat.
Getting Ready by Child’s Play, illustrated by Cocoretto (Child’s Play International)
Varying textures and bright colors make familiar objects in this board book fun to interact with and perfect as a springboard for conversation and object identification.
Littles: And How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by AG Ford (Doubleday Books for Young Readers)
Bouncy rhyming text and plentiful illustrations catalog the ways that babies are loved, fed and cared for by all kinds of parents and families.
Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions (Abrams Appleseed)
Clear, engaging photographs of a group of expressive babies are paired with text that encourages listeners to identify individuals and mimic the emotions displayed; a mirror on the last page allows babies to see themselves.
Mouse Is Small by Mary Murphy* (Candlewick Press)
Shaped pages flip easily, simply drawn animals are cheerful and charming, and changing background colors add interest, making this brief board book an engaging first narrative for little listeners.
Peek-A-Boo Zoo! by Jane Cabrera (Little Bee Books)
The familiar game takes on an exotic appeal as a ring-tailed lemur plays peekaboo with a variety of other animals; clever die-cuts and interesting patterns enhance the simply composed paintings.
Up!: How Families around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids Books)
*Books by this author have appeared on previous Best Books for Babies lists.
Parents can explore earlier Best Books for Babies lists and find additional book recommendations at carnegielibrary.org.
Best Books for Babies is a cooperative project of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, The Fred Rogers Company and Trying Together (formerly the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children). The Best Books for Babies Committee strives to identify books that will delight and engage both babies and the adults who care for them.
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