Which 12 titles made CLP’s Best Books for Babies list for 2024?

Photos by Nancy Andrews/Annie O’Neill Photography courtesy of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

We know reading books to babies and toddlers is a great way to help them develop language and begin learning. Each year, a team of librarians and child development experts from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh take time to create their Best Books for Babies list, sharing a dozen new titles that are especially great for reading to little ones.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the nationally recognized Best Books for Babies list. It includes a book of nursery rhymes with flaps to open, several books that feature photographs of smiling babies, and one title in both English and Spanish.

“Research tells us that the first three years of brain development are critical and having excellent books that engage the very youngest listeners is key. Another important goal is to encourage parents and other caregivers to read to babies right from the start — that’s because learning begins at birth,” says Lisa Dennis, Coordinator of Children’s and Teen Collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and co-chair of the Best Books for Babies committee.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Best Baby Books 2024 photographed at Mt. Washington and East Liberty locations in on March 2024. Photos by Nancy Andrews/AnnIe O’Neill Photography

These books were chosen based on more than 25 criteria, including: how they sound when read aloud; clear, uncluttered illustrations; diverse and authentic representation of race, gender, ability, culture, and family structure; durability; age appropriate subject matter or theme; and design for an infant audience.

Best Books for Babies 2024

Alma, Head to Toe/Alma, de Pies a Cabeza (Candlewick Press) by Juana Martinez-Neal: Soft pictures in pink, red and black show a cheerful little girl; brief English and Spanish text labels her body parts and describes her experiences.

Babies (DK Publishing) by Fiona Munro, illustrations by Laura Hambleton: Brightly colored pages are packed with pictures of busy babies, offering plenty to look at and talk about. 

Babies and Bunnies Book (Clarion Books) by John Schindel & Molly Woodward: Babies love to look at babies and these crisp, clear photographs, paired with pictures of adorable rabbits, are sure to bring a smile.

Good Night, Baby & Hello, Baby (Little Bee Books): Appealing photos of babies enjoying everyday activities include saying hello and good night in 15 languages.

Good Night, Little Fish (Candlewick Press) by Lucy Cousins: Little Fish swishes through the bright blue sea saying good night to friends and family.

Leo on a Hike (Charlesbridge Publishing) by Anna McQuinn, illustrations by Ruth Hearson: Leo and his father enjoy a walk in the woods, discovering small treasures and lovely views.

Look, It’s Hoot Hoot Owl & Look, It’s Moo Moo Cow (Nosy Crow) by Camilla Reid, illustrations by Clare Youngs: These board books combine eye-catching illustrations, animal noises, and felt flaps to create fun read-alouds sure to entertain little listeners.

My First Lift-The-Flap Nursery Rhymes (Nosy Crow) by Ingela P. Arrhenius: Traditional rhymes are accompanied by brightly colored pictures; flaps reveal amusing details.

See Touch Feel: Tummy Time (Priddy Books) by Roger Priddy: Simple pictures and engaging photographs show familiar objects in an interactive touch-and-feel format.

Train (Templar Books) by Sebastien Braun: Easy-to-use tabs create motion and fun in cartoon-style illustrations that show a train moving through a colorful landscape.

The Best Books for Babies committee also shared the following tips to help caregivers make the most of time spent reading with little ones:

  • Babies explore their world through touch and taste. Share sturdy books and books that offer different textures and sensations. Board books, in particular, are a good choice since babies are less likely to damage them in their explorations.
  • Books with simple black against white pictures really appeal to babies and are easiest for babies ages birth to 6 months to see. Young babies also love patterns and photographs of people’s faces, especially other babies.
  • Read, read, repeat! Be willing to read stories over and over again. But also give yourself permission to give some books a rest sometimes.
  • Young children are wiggly! Do your best to share books when your child is relaxed, but still alert. And don’t be afraid to put a book down and pivot to another activity. Reading throughout the day, rather than just once, helps to reinforce the idea that books are a part of everyday life.
  • Tune in, talk more! Share new words every day. Point to pictures on the page as you describe them. Make connections to things you see and interact with in real life, too.
  • Children learn from everything they experience. Talk, sing, read, write and play, at least a little bit, every day. When you share these activities with young children, you’re helping them develop the early literacy skills (or reading readiness skills) they need to learn to read.

Throughout the year CLP will host Best Books for Babies storytime events, where local families will receive one free book from this year’s list. CLP staff will also be at this year’s Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books on May 11 to speak with parents about choosing good books for babies. They’ll also raffle off collections of this year’s titles.

Click right here for information about Best Books for Babies, including previous book selections.