25 Baby Books New Parents Should Have

Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading.

January 2021

There are so many amazing titles out there, but we have compiled a list of the 25 best baby books all new parents should have. From timeless classics to new favorites, we walk through some of the most engaging, most rich, and most heartwarming books you’ll find. And with such a comprehensive list, your baby’s new favorite book is sure to be on this list.

Elephant Books

The Book Club for Kids!

Classic Baby Books

Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown
Book Type: Board
Age: 1-4

In a great green room, tucked away in bed is a little bunny who says goodnight to everything in his room. From the picture of three little bears sitting on chairs to the mittens and the kittens, each gets a special farewell. Let the soft pictures and the quiet, lyrical poetry get your little one ready to say goodnight to everything around them.

This classic picture book, enjoyed by generations and generations, makes for a perfect book to say goodnight with. The illustrations are simple, yet there is always something new to discover in the great green room. This book is also great to create a bedtime or nap time routine. With its soothing rhyming scheme and its calming words, it will lull your baby to sleep in no time. 

Goodnight Gorilla
Peggy Rathmann
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

After all the guests go home, it’s time to say goodnight at the zoo. All the animals get ready to go to sleep…except for one mischievous gorilla. As a zookeeper walks around to make sure that everyone is tucked safe into bed, the gorilla follows him around and plays a trick or two on his old friend. 

This book is such a fun one to read with any child because there are so many surprises. The text is simple, allowing you and your child to say goodnight to each animal. Where there is no text, you can look towards the illustrations and talk your baby through what is happening. This book provides such a great laugh and allows you to really interact with the book alongside your baby. 

Dear Zoo
Rod Campbell
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

In this book, the narrator goes in search of a pet. He writes to the zoo for help, but the end up sending him pets that are too big (like elephants) and pets that are too tall (like giraffes). Will they find their perfect pet? 

This book is such a fun one to read with your child. It has a simple rhyming pattern and a lot of anticipation and drama as the narrator reveals what kind of pets he gets. It will expose your baby to different animals and their characteristics, all while looking at exciting and bright pictures that are sure to capture their attention.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
Book Type: Board 
Age: 0-4

A very hungry caterpillar must find food as it prepares to turn into a butterfly. He goes through apples and pears and oranges, but is it enough? Join the very hungry caterpillar and talk about numbers, time, and days of the week with your child as you enjoy Eric Carle’s iconic illustration style and his imaginative storyline.

This is such a timeless classic. Eric Carle’s signature style brings the caterpillar’s journey to life through bright colors and liftable flaps. This book is the perfect way to introduce foods, colors, counting, and animals to your baby. With a very sweet storyline as well, this is the perfect book for any baby.

Best Newborn Books

Kitten’s First Full Moon
Kevin Henkes
Book Type: Board
Age: 3-5

It’s Kitten’s first full moon, and little does she know that she is in store for a bit of an adventurous night. As the full moon rises, she thinks that the moon is a nice, warm bowl of milk! Naturally, she wants the bowl of milk, but will she get it? Read to find out! 

This board book won the Caldecott medal of honor, and there is no wondering why. The kitten’s journey to get her little bowl of milk is so cute and humorous. This book’s illustrations are sure to captivate your baby’s attention, as well. The contrast between black and white in illustrations has been shown to improve baby’s eye development, so in reading this book you are not only having a great laugh but you are also helping your child to begin engaging with the world around them. 

Black & White
Tana Hoban
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-4

Before babies can register different colors, they are drawn to the visual contrast between black and white, and looking at black-and-white pictures with high contrast can really help their development. This book encourages this with its simple yet effective black and white photos. Featuring objects like keys, leaves, cats, buttons, and sailboats, this book is sure to enthrall your baby. 

We love this book because it is so great for child development! It is a great book to have on-hand and on-the go because you can pull it out and just soak in the pictures. It also has an accordion feature so you can pull all the pages out to put on the floor or to hold out to show your baby.

Look, Look!
Peter Linenthal
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Children run, fish swim, stars shine just for your little one. A car races, a cat stretches, flowers bloom–all for you to look and see. Flip through this high-contrast board book to discover lots of new objects. 

We love this book for newborns because it is another high-contrast black-and-white book. This one, though, also has red text, which is great because red is the first color that babies begin to see after black and white. It also gives you the opportunity to read and introduce your baby to new vocabulary as you go along.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Mem Fox
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-5

Celebrate the wondrous joys of a newborn with this fantastic board book. Ten little fingers and ten little toes… let’s count them! See how babies all over the world are born with ten little fingers and ten little toes. 

Reading this book offers so much to your baby! The rhyming text will pull them in and encourage them to listen to your words as you read. The counting of ten little fingers and toes will introduce them to their numbers. And the exploration of babies all across the globe will help them to start learning about the world around them.

Hello, Bugs!
Smriti Prasadam
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-5

Meet 10 adorable little bugs! From ladybugs to snails, from dragonflies to grasshoppers, you will soon become a bug expert. See how many you can count! 

This is another high-contrast book that we love. This one allows you to introduce your child to the world of insects. And there are so many ways to interact with this book! You could introduce your baby to new vocabulary, count how many bugs there are, or talk about the different colors you see.

Best Books for Babies 6-12 Months

Peek-a Who?
Nina Laden
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Play the classic game “peek-a-boo” and discover new animals along the way! Look through die-cut windows to try to guess who is coming up next. There is a surprise and something new to discover on every page of this incredibly fun board book. 

This book is such a blast to read with babies, especially if they are already fans of peek-a-boo. You can try to guess which animal is hiding on the next page, or you can just let it be a surprise. We love that this is an interactive book that you and your baby can enjoy together. This is also a great gift to give to new mothers or at a baby shower because it is such a classic, fun book.

Where’s Spot?
Eric Hill
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-5

Where has little puppy Spot gone? His father is looking for him everywhere! Help him search behind doors, inside chests, and even inside the grandfather clock. Lift each flap to discover all sorts of different animals as you search for one special little puppy. 

This book is super interactive and fun to read with your child. As you read and search for Spot, you lift flaps to see if he is hiding in certain places, giving your baby an opportunity to engage with the book in a tactile way. Reading Where’s Spot? Feels like an adventure as you look high and low for the missing puppy, which makes reading this book with your child an incredible bonding moment. 

Besos for Baby: A Little Book of Kisses
Jen Arena
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Everyone has kisses for Baby. Mami, Papi, perro, and gato all have lots of love to share with the newest member of their family. Using both Spanish and English, this fantastic read-aloud proves that love is the same in every language. 

We think this book is such a cute way to share with your baby how much you love them. Whether one of their first languages will be Spanish or you want them to pick up on a few words, this book is great for introducing new vocabulary. Also, the concept is wholesome and allows for a great bonding moment with you and your child. With bright, simple illustrations, this book is perfect for 6-12 month old babies.

TouchThinkLearn: ABC
Xavier Deneux
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-4

This tactile board book allows your baby to dive into numbers. Each page features a number, a group of dots that correspond to that number, and a cute animal. You can count along: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

This book is such a great, educational, interactive read. It has movable and removable elements that are perfect for babies who are starting to use their hands to learn more about the world around them. It also allows you to explore numbers, colors, animals, and new vocabulary. Your baby will love discovering new things through touch.

Global Babies
The Global Fund for Children
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Say “hello!” to different babies around the world. From Guatemala to Bhutan, get glimpses into the everyday life, culture, and traditions of babies from all corners of the globe. With simple text and bright pictures, this book lets readers know that babies everywhere are loved more than they could ever imagine. 

We love this book because it lets you explore the world right from home. Being able to see different clothes and cultures in this book will introduce your baby to different communities other than their own. Babies also love seeing other babies faces, so this book will draw your child’s attention and allow for a fantastic reading experience. A great read for everyone! 

Best Sound Books for Babies

Moo, Baa, La La La!
Sandra Boynton
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Discover the sounds that all different kinds of animals make in this adorable board book. While sheep say “Baa,” three sining pigs say “la, la, la!” Rhinoceros might snort and snuff, but little dogs go “ruff, ruff, ruff.” 

This book is such a fun way to introduce your baby to different animal sounds. Sometimes, it throws in unexpected twists, like staying that pigs sing “la, la, la,” but it always points out the silliness and says what sound that animal really makes. These moments are sure to bring lots of laughs. The rhythmic pattern of the text will also help to draw your baby in and help them to learn different noises. 

Barnyard Dance!
Sandra Boynton
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-4

Everybody loves to dance! All the barnyard animals grab their dancing shoes and join each other for a get together. Everybody sing along because it’s time to do-si-do! Follow the steps closely and you too will soon learn the special barnyard dance. 

This book is such a fun, lighthearted, spirited read. The text is so rhythmic that you cannot help but sing the words instead of reading them. It also features different animal sounds, which bring the barnyard dance to life. Reading this book together will create great bonding moments and memories between you and your child, as you sing a tune that you will remember years later. 

Little Blue Truck
Alice Shertle
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

This little blue pickup truck has mastered driving on muddy country roads. One day, however, he manages to get himself stuck while helping a dump truck out of the mud. Luckly, the little blue pickup truck has made plenty of farm animal friends who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their friend get back on the road. 

Filled with truck and animal noises, this is a great book to introduce different sounds to your child. From “beep” to “moo” to “croak,” this book shares all the different noises that the little blue truck and his animal friends make. The beautiful and intricate pictures are so engaging and really help support what is happening in the text. This book also has such a fantastic message of friendship, and it is never too early to introduce the importance of being kind to others.

Fox in Socks
Dr. Seuss
Book Type: Picture
Age: 0-7

Discover the wonderful adventures of a fox in sox. Once he meets a Knox in a box, everything goes downhill. Mix in a few chicks with bricks and blocks and clocks, and who knows what will happen! The fox is a tricky one who is sure to get your tongue in a twist. 

This book is an amazing classic perfect for any bookshelf! Filled with tongue twisters, this is a great way to introduce different letter sounds and rhyming patterns to your baby. Dr. Seuss is known worldwide for his silly rhymes and wacky storylines, and this book is one of his best for young readers. It is such a fun and energetic read that is sure to capture your baby’s attention and imagination.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Bill Martin, Jr.
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-4

All the letters of the alphabet race to get to the top of the coconut tree. But, will there be enough room for all of the letters to squeeze up there together? Oh no–Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

From the moment it was published, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom became an instant classic among families everywhere. And there’s no wonder why! The rhythmic feel of the text makes you feel like you are singing a fun song with your child, and the illustrations are bright and inviting. On top of this, it is a great way to introduce letters and the alphabet to your child as they continue to grow older.

Best Baby Books for a Baby Shower

It can be very difficult to pick out a book for a baby shower, but we’ve got you covered. Listed below are some of the best books that you can gift to expectant parents. Check out our article here for inspiration on how to write the perfect note in this special gift.

Guess How Much I Love You
Sam McBratney
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

Little Nutbrown Hare and his father, Big Nutbrown Hare, know they love each other very, very much. They want to share with the other just how much love they have in their heart. But, sometimes, love is a very hard thing to measure. Join the two sweet little hares on their journey to share how much they love each other. 

This book is a fantastic gift for a baby shower. It depicts the kind of special love between parent and child that is sure to warm your loved ones’ heart. We also love this book as a gift because it is such a great one to read with babies. With soothing text and a wonderful message of love, it is a great addition to any growing bookshelf.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Emily Winfield Martin
Book Type: Picture
Age: 0-7

Every new parent imagines all the possibilities their child’s life holds. This book explores all of the loving things that parents think when they look at their children. From holding tea parties to dressing up in silly costumes to simply being held, these special moments are ones that every parent remembers for a lifetime. 

We love this book because it is so, so sweet, creative, and clever. It gives a glimpse into all of the wonderful moments and memories that come with being a parent. Looking at what is to come, new parents reading this will grow even more excited to meet their baby. With beautiful illustrations and simple, sweet text, we think that this book is the perfect, heartfelt book for a baby shower gift. 

Welcome to the World
Lucy Tapper
Book Type: Picture
Age: 0-4

An adorable baby elephant discovers all the wonders this world has to offer. She explores beautiful things, tiny things, huge things and everything in between. Filled with kind words, this book welcomes babies to the world with the promise of exciting and fun adventures in a beautiful world.

This book is the perfect one to welcome a new baby into the world. The illustrations, as well as the text are sweet and soothing, perfect for any newborn baby. Reading this book with their child is a great way for any new parent to snuggle down with their baby and bond as they flip through the pages together. This book also features a space to write a personalized message so that parents can commemorate the birth of their child.

I Love You to the Moon and Back
Amelia Hepworth
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-5

As the sun rises, a bear and her cub wake up to a beautiful day. They splash in the water, climb up mountains, play with friends, and watch the colorful lights that appear in the shimmering sky. Throughout their amazingly exciting day, they take moments to stop and show that they love each other. Whether it be touching noses, chasing each other, or snuggling before bed, the momma bear and her cub share so many heartwarming moments. 

This is one of the best bedtime stories for new babies. Parents can read it to their children before bed as a way to soothe them and let them know how loved they are. Parents can also continue to read it as your child grows older, creating a tradition of snuggling up and bonding together. This book is a great gift to give because it is a beautiful, heartwarming book full of love. 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Dr. Seuss
Book Type: Picture
Age: 0-8

Imagine all the places your new little one will go. From soaring to high heights to seeing great sights, there is so much adventure in the world. Though there are ups and downs, every moment is made better by having people you love by your side.

This is a classic book to give as a baby shower gift. Dr. Seuss is one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time, and his words captivate the imagination of children all around the world. This book in particular also imagines all of life’s possibilities and helps parents and loved ones consider just how much their new bundle of joy will be able to experience. Above all, it has a great message of possibility and love, which make it a great way to welcome a new baby into the world.

Elephant Books

Elephant Book is a book club for babies. We send out curated packages of board books every single month right to your family’s doorstep. We take pride in hand-picking the most special books out there that we are sure any and every child will love. Each book is unique, engaging, and so much fun! In addition to some of the best books around, we also include special reading extras to ensure that snuggling up with a good book makes for a great bonding moment for you and your child. To learn more about our book club, click here.

Here are just a few books for babies that we have sent out in our packages:

Nom Nom: Colors
Forrest Everett
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-3

What better way to learn about colors than through ice cream! Learn about red and orange and yellow and blue through different ice cream flavors and topics. Nom Nom Colors makes for great food for thought. 

We love this book because it is such a fun and whimsical way to introduce colors to your baby. It does a great job of balancing out education and fun. We also love that it introduces so much new vocabulary to your child and that the illustrations are kind of like a comic, with the characters peaking in word bubbles.

But First, We Nap
David W. Miles
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-5

Sloth is super tired and just wants to take a nap. But Rabbit has different ideas and tries out different antics to get Sloth to change his mind. Each time, however, Sloth repeats, “But first, we nap.”

This is the perfect book for nap time, especially for little ones who have trouble slowing down. It not only features lovable and relatable characters, but it also encourages children to appreciate nap time and take a moment to rest. Not only that, but this book is also highly entertaining and funny, making it great fun to dive into. On top of that, the rhythmic nature of the text will help your baby slow down and get ready to go to sleep.

I Dig Bathtime
Brooke Jorden
Book Type: Board
Age: 0-5

Sloth is super tired and just wants to take a nap. But Rabbit has different ideas and tries out different antics to get Sloth to change his mind. Each time, however, Sloth repeats, “But first, we nap.”

This is the perfect book for nap time, especially for little ones who have trouble slowing down. It not only features lovable and relatable characters, but it also encourages children to appreciate nap time and take a moment to rest. Not only that, but this book is also highly entertaining and funny, making it great fun to dive into. On top of that, the rhythmic nature of the text will help your baby slow down and get ready to go to sleep.

For more book ideas for babies, toddlers, and young kids check out Elephant Books for additional information about the gift everyone feels good about!

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