Baby Toes
Baby and Toddler Books
Too Terrific to Miss

The love of books and reading begins in the cradle, not in the classroom. Of course, just as there are appropriate foods that babies and toddlers can handle at various stages, so there are certain books more likely to be palatable and pleasurable from three months to three years of age.

Multiple essential elements found in most of these tried-and-true picks make them especially worthy of sharing. They include features shown to promote early synapse development in the brain. They build the spoken vocabulary needed for success later in school. They provide the perfect excuse at points during the day for lap time and a cuddle, for dramatic readings and delight. Soon baby associates read-aloud rituals and books with loving, memorable times.  

Almost all come in a durable board book format. (BBB signifies it’s a bigger board book than usual because of more text or detailed illustrations.) Ideally beckoning from a basket or other portable container, the books can be moved from room to room, with easy access at floor level for a crawling baby or toddler to independently explore them, too. (House books with paper pages out of reach, except when shared with an adult, until a later stage.) Does your little one’s book collection include at least one from each of these categories of essential elements?
Rhyming words and phrases, alliteration (identical beginning letter/sounds), onomatopoeia (Boom! Ruff! Clap!), and repetition of words and sentences, re-readings:  
Dog by Matthew Van Fleet and Brian Stanton, photographer; (also: Cat and Moo)
Busy Penguins (and others) by John Schindel, with various photographers
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
Flora MacDonald’s ABC by Flora MacDonald  (alphabet books with multiple items per page start with the same letter/sound)
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
Boom, Baby, Boom Boom! by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain
  Sheep in a Jeep
Introduction to babies of all colors, genders, and family constellations in the real world:
Peek a Boo Baby by Margaret Miller
Global Baby Girls and Global Baby Boys by many photographers; Charlesbridge
Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes by Helen Oxenbury
Ten Little Rabbits by Virginia Grossman and Sylvia Long
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Busy Toes by C. W. Bowie, illustrated by Fred Willingham
Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Ted Rand
More, More, More, Said The Baby by Vera B. Williams
Babies by Gyo Fujikawa
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
  Ten Little Fingers
Attention-getters with flaps, moving parts, sparkles, textures, easy-to-manipulate pages or tiny dimensions to fit in a baby’s palm:
Woof! (also, Zoom! and Splash!) by Nick Ackland, illustrated by Bella Bee
Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
Gallop! by Rufus Butler Seder (also, Swing! and Waddle!)
Press Here by Hervé Tullet
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton (sing it, dance to it)
From Head To Toe by Eric Carle (toddlers can mimic the moves)
The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak
Baby Love: All Fall Down/Clap Hands/Tickle, Tickle/Say Goodnight by Helen Oxenbury
  From Head to Toe
Lots of pointing and saying of words for photographed or illustrated objects during the first year or so until the child begins to spontaneously supply the appropriate words:
My First Word Book, My First Truck Book, and others by DK Publishing
Baby’s First Words, My Big Word Book, My Big Truck Book, etc., by Roger Priddy BBB
The Big Book of Things That Go by DK Publishing BBB
First Word Book On the Farm by Usborne Publishers BBB
Animal Friends by Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko
Maisy’s Amazing Big Book of Learning by Lucy Cousins BBB
Bruno Munari’s ABC by Bruno Munari (alphabet books, a treasure trove of items to name)
  My First Word Book on the Farm
Habituating the youngest to a daily read-aloud ritual and readying baby or toddler for sleep:
Time for Bed by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jane Dyer
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (also, The Runaway Bunny)
Maisy’s Bedtime by Lucy Cousins
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
  Kitten's First Full Moon
Simple story lines and uncluttered illustrations for toddlers with a 50-word vocabulary:
Gossie by Olivia Dunrea (and others about Gossie and Gertie, Ollie, Peedie, etc.)
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
Hug! by Jez Alborough
Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee
Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
I Am a Bunny by Richard Scarry
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Time to Get Dressed! by Elivia Savadier
A Good Day by Kevin Henkes
  Fireman Small
Simple introductions to colors, alphabet letters, numerals, opposites, days, seasons:
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Toot & Puddle: Puddle’s ABC by Holly Hobbie
John Burningham’s ABC by John Burningham
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault,  illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Olivia Counts by Ian Falconer
Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland
Green Is a Chile Pepper: a Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parro (Spanish words embedded in text)
Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
Happy Baby Colors by Roger Priddy
Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth
All Year Round by Emilie Leduc
More complex stories and attention-getting print for toddlers building a 10,000-word vocabulary for extended talk … informally getting ready for playful decoding of print:
Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay (and others about Stella)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel (and others in series)
The Lady with the Alligator Purse by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Have a Look, Says the Book by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Otis by Loren Long
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illus by Helen Oxenbury
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
I Am Invited To a Party! by Mo Willems (and other Elephant and Piggie titles)
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