Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh releases 2021 Best Books for Babies list

Nationally recognized list includes books that introduce rhymes, games, cultures and values
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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh recently released its 2021 Best Books for Babies – an annual list handpicked by librarians and child development experts designed to promote linguistic, social-emotional, cognitive and visual development for young learners. This nationally recognized guide assists parents, teachers and caregivers in selecting quality materials to share with babies from birth to 18 months.

“It’s never too early to begin reading, and repetition is the key to developing a strong foundation for learning,” said Lisa Dennis, Coordinator of Children’s Collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. “Babies learn by example – language and social skills are acquired through copying sounds, looking at vibrant colors and recognizing imagery. This year’s list also highlights different types of family dynamics, cultural backgrounds and values.”

Developed through several virtual selection committee sessions, the list collects a host of creative titles sure to please little ones everywhere. Fan favorites include an innovative fold-out board book, books with fun movable features, stories about young families and books featuring familiar songs and rhymes.

“We hope that identifying these books will encourage parents and other caregivers to read to babies beginning at birth,” continued Dennis. “We also want to recognize the publishers who create excellent books for the very youngest listeners.”

Best Books for Babies 2021

20 First Words in 20 Languages 

  • Odd Dot
  • Photos of babies and young children illustrate individual words that are translated into 20 different languages on a color-coded moveable wheel.

Baby Up, Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites 

  • Abrams Appleseed
  • Color photographs on bright white backgrounds show babies who are clean and messy, wet and dry, quiet and noisy — and utterly adorable.

Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by AG Ford

  • Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • A mom and dad enjoy the evening routine with their energetic little one.

Five Little Ducks: First Book of Nursery Games and Pat-A-Cake: First Book of Nursery Rhymes  

  • Art by Ailie Busby
  • Child’s Play
  • Simple instructions for caregivers make it easy to play and sing with your baby.

Hello, My World: A High-Contrast Book

  • Art by Jannie Ho
  • duopress books/Workman Publishing
  • Crisp black and white pictures and cheerful greetings make this brief board book perfect for the very youngest listeners.

Hey Baby! A Baby’s Day in Doodles by Andrea Pippins

  • Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House
  • Swirling black and white doodles frame candid color photos of a baby engaged in everyday activities.

Maisy’s Construction Site by Lucy Cousins

  • Candlewick Press
  • Bold colors and movable parts make this simple story about friends working together especially appealing.

Tummy Time Friends by Pat Brisson

  • Tilbury House Publishers
  • This unusual board book unfolds to display photos of smiling babies on both sides.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You! by Ellen Mayer, illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu

  • Star Bright Books
  • Using a familiar tune, a mother turns a sometimes-challenging chore into a chance to connect with her baby.

Up Cat Down Cat 

  • by Steve Light
  • Candlewick Press
  • Bright colors, rich texture and exaggerated shapes combine to create an attractive board book.

Parents can explore earlier Best Books for Babies lists and find additional book recommendations at

The Best Books for Babies Committee strives to identify books that will delight and engage both babies and the adults who care for them.


About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is supporting individual achievement and strengthening the power of community. Through the community’s investment, the Library is enhancing the lives of people in the greater Pittsburgh region with dynamic and diverse resources such as creative learning programs for children and teens, job and career assistance for our community’s workforce, and free computer and internet access for all. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh builds community, enables learning, provides access and values people.