What are this year’s Best Books for Babies?

Dad Reading Book With His Little Son In Living Room

This nationally-acclaimed list includes quality books published in 2019 that 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.

Every new parent is inundated with questions: What brand of diapers should I buy? Which baby formula should I choose? What crib is best? Which stroller? – the list goes on. A lesser asked, but just as important question: what should I read to my newborn?

When you’re trying to ensure healthy brain development, it can be difficult to decide when, and what, to start reading to your newest family member. Every year, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh compiles the Best Books for Babies, a nationally-acclaimed list full of new books, handpicked by librarians and child development experts, that best promote linguistic, cognitive and visual development in babies aged birth to 18 months.

Research conducted by Dominic Massaro, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that “although parents can build their children’s vocabularies by talking to them, reading to them is more effective. Reading aloud is the best way to help children develop word mastery and grammatical understanding, which form the basis for learning how to read […] picture books are two to three times as likely as parent-child conversations to include a word that isn’t among the 5,000 most common English words.”

Each year since 2000 a panel of Pittsburgh librarians and child development experts have sorted through hundreds of publications to curate a list of books perfect for sharing with the very littlest listeners. This year’s Best Books for Babies selections were chosen from more than 150 sturdy board books, fun lift-the-flap titles and charming picture books submitted for consideration by publishers, panel members and local librarians. Using the following criteria, the panel designated 14 books as the year’s best:

  • The text had interesting language and introduced children to new vocabulary;
  • The book encouraged reader participation and interaction;
  • The story and illustrations were engaging, interesting, and designed for babies birth through 18 months; and
  • The books were free from gender, ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes.


2020 Best Books for Babies

(all books on the Best Book for Babies list were published in 2019) 


Baby Day by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell; Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

(Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

Simple words and cheerful pictures tell the story of a first birthday celebration.


Baby Dream/Sonando Con Bebe by Sunny Scribens

Baby Food/Comiendo Con Bebe by Stefanie Paige Wieder

Baby Play/Jugando Con Bebe by Skye Silver; all translated by Maria Perez

(Barefoot Books)

Black-and-white photos show babies who are smiling, yawning, eating, and waving in these board books.


Beep = Piip by Petr Horacek*

(Candlewick Press)

Shaped pages, bright colors, and childlike pictures make this sturdy board book about a visit to grandma’s house fun.


I Love All of Me by Lorie Ann Grover; illustrated by Carolina Buzio

(Cartwheel Books)

Bouncy rhymes describe all of the ways that babies appreciate themselves, from “wiggle toes” to “smelly nose.”


I Thought I Saw a Bear! 

I Thought I Saw an Elephant! by The Templar Company Ltd.; illustrated by Lydia Nichols

(Templar Books)

Babies can play hide-and-seek with friendly animals in these sturdy board books.


Jump! by Tatsuhide Matsuoka

(Gecko Press)

Leaping animals seem to jump off the pages of this board book.


Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron*


Cheerful rhymes compare babies to a variety of animals.


Shapes by Jane Cabrera*

(Little Bee Books)

Cutout shapes make the pictures of different animals, shapes, and settings fun to feel.


Sleeping Bunnies

The Wheels on the Bus Illustrated by Annie Kubler

(Child’s Play International)

Colorful pictures of a group of babies playing together illustrate these two songs.


Touchwords: Clothes by Chronicle Books; illustrated by Rilla Alexander

(Chronicle Books)

Simple pictures of clothing have related words listed below.


*Books by this author have appeared on previous Best Books for Babies lists.


“You don’t have to be a read-aloud expert to share a book with a baby,” said Lisa Dennis, Coordinator of Children’s Collections at Carnegie Library of  Pittsburgh and chair of the Best Books for Babies panel. “Reading aloud is helpful even before babies can understand the meaning of the words. Word by word, book by book, parents and caregivers can prepare their child for educational success and lifelong enjoyment.”


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Best Books for Babies initiative is intended to encourage reading beginning at birth and recognize publishers who create excellent books for the very youngest listeners. Throughout the fall, the Library with collaborate with local organizations to provide Best Books for Babies book bundles to families with children age birth through 18 months.


About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – To Engage our Community in Literacy and Learning

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.