Babies love storytime! Snuggle up with these 2021 Best Books for Babies

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

Even if babies don’t quite understand all the words, they love to snuggle up with their grownup, flipping through pages, looking at pictures and listening to the rhythm of language. It’s never too early to begin reading to babies. It’s a simple way to connect, improve your baby’s brain development and make your growing child smarter.

That’s part of the reason that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh produces its nationally acclaimed list of Best Books for Babies. Libraries across the country use the annual Pittsburgh-created selections for their collections. Curated by local librarians, child development experts and publishers, the list includes board books, lift-the-flap titles and picture books.

This expert committee selects newly released titles that best promote linguistic, cognitive, social-emotional and visual development for young learners. Other criteria include:

  • Books that are age-appropriate, aimed at babies from infants to 18 months old.
  • Books that encourage interaction and participation, as well as feature engaging illustrations.
  • Books that allow babies to start to learn about how words sound and start making connections to physical objects through reading.

You’re sure to find a few future favorites in the 2021 Best Books for Babies list – or these lists from previous years – that will be revisited again and again. Reading to your baby is such a fun and worthwhile experience for both of you!

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2021 Best Book for Babies

 1. “20 First Words in 20 First Languages,” by Odd Dot. Photos of babies and young children illustrate individual words that are translated into 20 different languages on a color-coded moveable wheel.

2. “Baby Up Baby Down: A First Book of Opposites,” by Abrams Appleseed. Color photographs on bright white backgrounds show babies who are clean and messy, wet and dry, quiet and noisy—and utterly adorable.

3. “Brown Baby Lullaby,” by Tameka Fryer Brown. A mom and dad enjoy the evening routine with their energetic little one.

4. “Five Little Ducks: First Book of Nursery Games,” by Ailie Busby. Simple instructions for caregivers make it easy to play and sing with your baby. A companion title also selected for this year’s Best Books for Babies list is “Pat-A-Cake: First Book of Nursery Rhymes.”

5. “Hello, My World: A High Contrast Book,” by Jannie Ho. Crisp black and white pictures and cheerful greetings make this brief board book perfect for the very youngest listeners.

6. “Hey Baby! A Baby’s Day in Doodles,” by Andrea Pippins. Swirling black and white doodles frame candid color photos of a baby engaged in everyday activities.

7. “Maisy’s Construction Site,” by Lucy Cousins. Bold colors and movable parts make this simple story about friends working together especially appealing.

8. “Tummy Time Friends,” by Pat Brisson. This unusual board book unfolds to display photos of smiling babies on both sides.

9. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You!” by Ellen Mayer. Using a familiar tune, a mother turns a sometimes challenging chore into a chance to connect with her baby.

10. “Up Cat Down Cat,” by Steve Light. Bright colors, rich texture and exaggerated shapes combine to create an attractive board book.