Ten favourite baby books

I am a real bookworm and really hope that BabyGirl has the same love of books as she grows up. She already has a fairly well stocked little library and I have spent time reading with her every day since she was just over a month old.

It may seem like an activity to reserve for older babies and children but it has been interesting to see how responsive BabyGirl has been – at first, to the pictures or to my voice, but later to the books themselves. She was turning the pages by five months and interacting with the lift the flap books, which is great for her fine motor skills as well as hopefully setting her on the right path with reading. I keep her books out in a basket in the living room so she can go to them whenever she wants. Pulling them out of the basket has, of course, been lots of fun! But at ten months, she will now sit and turn through the pages herself, looking at the pictures, which I love to see. (Although she does unfortunately also like to chew on the books, so I may have to revisit the idea of having them readily available for a while!)

Here are our top ten books, some of which we have been reading since she was newborn and others which are more recent.

1. Baby’s Very First Book: Farm
A great cloth book for teeny babies. Each double page spread includes a pattern on one side and a simple farm animal face on the other. The black, white and red patterns are perfect for stimulating a newborn’s vision, and they love to look at the smiling faces. There is also a mirror on the front cover so you can show them their own face. This was BabyGirl’s first book but we still play with it now, making the animal sounds on each page, so it has staying power!

2. Jungly Tails
This is a lovely cloth book by Jellycat and has been a favourite since BabyGirl was two or three months old. Featuring colourful pictures of jungle animals on each page and a crinkly cover, it is very tactile as well as being interesting to look at. But the best bit is the way the animals’ tails stick out of the edges of the pages – each tail is a different material so fantastic for sensory exploration – oh, and also very good for chewing! In addition, the velcro loop at the top means it can be attached to bouncers, carseats and highchairs so we have taken this out and about with us pretty much everywhere. There are other books in the series, such as Farm Tails, which includes some short text to go with each tail.

3. Hide and Seek Pig
This is part of a series called Tales from Acorn Wood by the same pair who brought The Gruffulo to life. It has lovely bright illustrations, easy rhyming text and flaps for the babies to lift so they can help Pig seek out Hen. BabyGirl has been enjoying this since she was four months old and it is one of her favourites at the moment. We also have Rabbit’s Nap, which is equally as good, and we will no doubt end up with all four from the series!

4. This Little Monster
Similar to the Usborne That’s Not My… series (which is also excellent), I slightly prefer this version from Ladybird. Each page has a different texture as part of the illustrations, encouraging babies to reach out and interact with the book. In addition, though, This Little Monster has a simple rhyming text to go with each picture, which I think makes this book more interesting than the That’s Not My… ones. There is a small ladybird to find on each page and it also invites you to participate at the end by making up a monster’s name to go with the picture. I do this for BabyGirl at the moment of course, but it will be a fun thing for her to join in with when she is older.

5. Clap Your Hands
BabyGirl absolutely loves this! She gets very excited when it comes out (and it is also the most chewed of all her books, if we can take that as an endorsement…) It provides the words for the well-known song If You’re Happy and You Know It, ‘acted out’ by teddy bears. We put it on the floor and sing along, but also sometimes just read through it. BabyGirl is very taken by the teddy bears and likes to clap along (we haven’t mastered any of the other directions yet!) I can see this lasting us for a good while, when she gets to the point where she can join in with all the actions, such as stamping her feet and jumping up and down.

6. Spot Loves His Daddy
I bought this ‘from’ BabyGirl for her Daddy on his birthday and it has really grown on me. We have the classic lift-the-flaps Where’s Spot? but I think both BabyGirl and I prefer this one. It is very simple, each double page spread looking at the various activities Spot has done with his daddy that day, including playing in the park, feeding the ducks and going to the beach (they are certainly having a very active day!) There isn’t much text but the pictures are lovely and bright, with plenty of scope to talk about what Spot and his daddy are doing.

7. Dear Zoo
The zoo has sent a whole host of unsuitable pets but what are they? Babies lift the flaps to find out in this brilliant book. As well as introducing various animals, you can add even more interaction by attempting the noises each animal would make. This can be a bit of a challenge for some animals… For example, what sound does a camel make? (We go for ‘humph’ as it is ‘too grumpy’ for a pet!) BabyGirl already mimics her favourite, the monkey, and this is definitely one of her top reads. We also have the buggy book version, which doesn’t include the flaps but is useful to have on hand when out and about.

8. Little Monkey (First Friends)
Continuing with the animal theme is this lovely little book. Who will monkey meet today on his travels? Each page features a different animal with some simple, rhyming text to describe them. There are a few sensory elements, with different textures and materials to spot, although not to the extent of This Little Monster. BabyGirl’s favourite part is undoubtedly the last page which folds out to show all monkey’s friends so we can say hello to them again. She loves to open this page and point to all the animals, and it is a good way to recap on what we have just read. We have two other titles from the series, Little Turtle and Little Chick, which are equally as sweet.

9. We’re Going on a Bearhunt
This is quite simply a classic. A brilliantly humorous story of the family who wake up on a ‘beee-ut-iful day’ and decide to go catch a bear – then realise when they come face to face with one, that maybe the best place to be is under the covers back at home! Their journey through various terrains is described with a catchy refrain (‘we can’t go over it, can’t go under it, we have to go through it’) and includes some wonderfully onomatopoeic description as they traipse through the ‘swishy swashy’ grass, ‘squelch and squerch’ through the mud and ‘splash splosh’ through the river. I am sure BabyGirl will love joining in with this one once she is a bit older, so I can see it lasting us a good long while.

10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Another classic. I remember reading this as a child, so I was excited to introduce it to BabyGirl. It is a simple story of the little caterpillar who eats its way through lots of food to eventually turn into a beautiful butterfly, with wonderful illustrations in the distinctive style of Eric Carle. As BabyGirl gets older, I can imagine it will be a good way to talk about the food the caterpillar eats and also to use as a tool for learning how to count.

Bonus number 11! Room on the Broom
I just couldn’t leave this one out… This is my personal favourite of BabyGirl’s books! It’s a lot longer than her others with much more text and, in truth, is probably better suited for slightly older babies and toddlers. However, if I time it carefully (i.e. not too tired or grumpy!) she does concentrate through the whole reading and interacts with the pictures. It has a great rhythm and is a lot of fun to read. The words are by Julia Donaldson, of The Gruffalo fame; I am already a big fan and I will be looking out for other books by her in the future.

Those are our top reads at the moment but I am always browsing in the bookshop and the library for others to add to our collection! What are your recommended baby books?

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