It’s never too early to get babies interested in books. Snuggling up with a little one, paging through colorful images and reading stories and rhymes is as endearing to the grownup as it is entertaining to the baby. The process, even at a very young age, encourages brain development and growth.
For the 19th year, a panel of librarians and child development experts have curated an annual list of books perfect for sharing with the very littlest listeners. This year, nearly 200 books were submitted for consideration by publishers, committee members and local librarians as the top books that best promote linguistic, cognitive and visual development in babies from birth to 18 months.
Best Books for Babies – a cooperative project of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Fred Rogers Productions and Trying Together – is intended to encourage reading and to recognize publishers who create these wonderful books for the very youngest listeners.
The committee considered whether the story sounded good when read aloud, as well as the level of reader participation and interaction. Did the text have interesting language and introduce new vocabulary? Were illustrations engaging for children?
From sturdy board books to fun lift-the-flap titles to charming picture book portraits of young families, these books will delight and engage babies as well as the adults who care for them.
All of the books are available at Carnegie Libraries or can be requested. Pick one up and share it with a baby in your life.
“Baby Says,” by John Steptoe. This board book shows the love between an energetic baby and his older brother. Families of all shapes and sizes can enjoy this story.
“Baby See, Baby Do,” by Robie Rogge. Each page features a photograph of a different baby as they show emotions or complete an action. Babies will also enjoy seeing themselves in the attached mirror.
“Baby’s Firsts,” by Nancy Raines Day. Rhythmic rhymes describe the typical milestones of a baby’s first year. Three different families appear in the pictures.
“Birds of a Color,” by Élo. Very young babies will be able to focus on the black and white birds. Colorful flaps will surprise and entertain babies of all ages.
“Black Bird, Yellow Sun,” by Steve Light. A black bird and an orange worm are paired with pictures in a rainbow of colors. High-contrast collage and textured paint create eye-catching illustrations.
“Count with Little Fish,” by Lucy Cousins. Thick black outlines, vivid colors, and shiny textures make the pictures in this board book pop. The rhyming text includes plenty of descriptive words and phrases.
“Go Baby! Go Dog!” by Anne Vittur Kennedy. A baby who loves to crawl follows a dog wherever he goes.
“I Am a Baby,” by Kathryn Madeline Allen. Each page shows babies with their families, pets, and everyday items. Caregivers can make connections to their own babies’ lives.
“Toesy Toes,” by Sarah Tsiang. Playful language is paired with clear photographs of babies. Caregivers can introduce a new word—“toes”— by touching their babies’ toes as the word repeats in the text.
Free bonus books for Pittsburgh babies: The City of Pittsburgh in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails a free age-appropriate book every month to enrolled children from birth to 5 years. Click here for details and registration.