There’s nothing like a bedtime story (with or without Tom Hardy reading it). Not only do they help your little one unwind before bed, but they’ve also been proven to help improve speech and language skills too.
We all know that baby books are important for their development, but with lots readily available it can be difficult to decide which is the best book for your little one.
We’ve compiled a definitive guide on how to choose a book for your baby, the benefits of reading with your little one and the best stories on the market that your little one will love!
You are going to use a baby book for any downtime, during any time of the day. You can also use at bedtime to relax and to calm your baby. Don't worry if your baby doesn't pay attention to it, his/her focus will build up with time, just keep reading and showing the pictures and with time your baby will ask for their book time.
It's important to keep in mind that a baby book needs to be easy to hold and to carry around. Also, you need to like the illustrations as well, because you and your baby are going to spend lots of time looking at them. You can also stick with one favourite author or illustrator.
What are the best books for babies and toddlers?
There’s a number of different baby books out there, but these are some of the best-selling baby books to buy for the nursery bookshelf:
The best books for 0-12 month old babies
Your little one’s world is made up of shapes, and recognising them can be hugely helpful, particularly as a steppingstone to learning about numbers and letters. This fab board book, 5 Wild Shapes by Camilla Falsini makes learning fun – it’s beautifully illustrated, features gentle rhyming descriptions and sliding discs to let little fingers interact.
Interactive books can help extend your child’s focus and we reckon Don’t Tickle the Hippo has got enough bells and whistles to keep him entertained. The touchy-feely buttons are sensitive enough for younger babies to press or stroke easily, and when he does, he’ll be rewarded with a selection of animal sounds.
From the best selling author M.H Clark, this fab book teaches tots that there are lots of different ways to feel. Wit fun rhymes and colourful illustrations, this book will help your baby learn to understand their range of emotions.
With lots of different textures to touch and explore, this fun sensory book will help your baby to identify different animals. Have fun making animal sounds as you feel your way through the wild, the home, the farm and the ocean.
Your baby will love pressing the button and clapping along to the popular tune whilst enjoying the pictures the tell the tale. Action rhymes are great for hand-eye coordination and help foster self-confidence.
It’s bedtime for baby bear but the sky outside looks so exciting. With sparkly lights, this heart-warming tale makes a lovely bedtime read. As the stars get brighter, little eyes get heavier, so snuggle up and enjoy!
A cute book with a sound panel your baby will love, the easy to press buttons to play popular nursery rhymes to your tot, including Twinkle, twinkle little star, and Baa Baa back sheep. The high-contrast colours and patterns have been designed with tots in mind.
Make baby Bath time fun with DK's new Squeaky Baby Bath Book series. Safe for baby and perfect for bathtime fun or highchair play, the book is packed with bright pictures of baby animals, squashy, waterproof pages, and a built-in squeaker making baby bath time fun for your little one.
Part of the Ladybird best-selling Baby Touch range, this baby book contains a range of bright, high-contrast characters and faces to help stimulate your baby’s developing eyesight from birth. There is also a cute mirror at the back for your baby to smile at.
One for the cat lovers out there, this touchy-feely book encourages your baby to touch and feel the tactile patches. The bold illustrations are designed with little ones in mind, and spotting the white mouse on every page helps develop problem-solving skills.
Designed for babies from birth to six months, this book is perfect for tummy time. Say hello to familiar faces and play peekaboo with the peepholes. The contrasting colours, bold patterns and mirror are designed to focus on developing eyes.
Stroke, tickle and touch the different animals and let little hands feel how soft the kitten feels compared to the scaley lizard. They’ll be learning as they play, and the tactile book aids development.
Introduce them to Peter Rabbit early with this cute finger puppet book! Bring Peter to life and teach your little one how to count, before moving on to the classic books as they get older.
This board book is here to give a valuable and enjoyable learning time for your baby, showing through a simple narrative with textured pages all the reasons that why is not that animal or object. You can find as well many other books from this collection such as that’s not my teddy/dolly/tractor”.
What are the best books for toddlers?
The best books for 2 year olds
The Baby's Catalogue is a lovely picture book of objects and scenes from a baby's world. The content of this book has made it a classic addition to your nursery library.
Maisy’s adventures have been translated into 28 languages and sold over 25 million copies. You can now find more than 150 stories full of letters, numbers, and shapes for your baby to learn, all featuring the wonderful illustrated mouse.
Peepo! Is set in the early forties, showing an unpretentious vision of a baby's contented life based on Allan Ahlberg's own working-class childhood.
A book that has been a firm favourite with parents and toddlers for years, Dear Zoo is an interactive flap book that your tot will love. Will they ever manage to find the perfect pet as they discover the different animals the zoo has sent?
Poor old Fox has lost his socks--can you help him find them? Are they in the kitchen or under the stairs? Are they inside the clock or hidden in a chest? Lift the flaps and find out! With sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud, the Tales From Acorn Wood have been delighting both parents and toddlers for over fifteen years. Celebrate their unending appeal with Tales From Acorn Wood: Fox's Socks, a beautifully produced board book with a gorgeous shiny-foiled cover look.
This is the story of two Nutbrown Hares, Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare and how it’s impossible to measure how much you love your little one. A great story to read to your tot with a big cuddle at the end.
Spot is a timeless classic. In the book, puppy Spot has gone missing at dinner time and Mummy dog, Sally, must find him. This book is part of a collection of many stories about Spot’s adventures that are a part of pretty much everyone’s childhood.
The best books for 3 year olds
You can download this on to your Kindle but it’s just not the same as reading with your toddler and seeing all the holes in the pages. Another absolute classic that deserves its place on every toddler’s bookshelf.
The exciting Gruffalo baby and toddler series features all your favourite characters from the deep dark wood. Learn about colours, numbers, opposites and animals with this fabulous set of four bold, bright board books, now available in a miniature slipcase.
Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the best-selling illustrator/author team of Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character. This board book edition is perfect for little hands.
Another classic that has stood the test of time, this beautiful story of Sophie and her very hungry tea-time guest is a must if you’ve got an animal-lover in your brood. Why not plan a tea-party for your own hungry tigers at the weekend?
This adorable story of Max and his monsters has entertained children for years. After dressing up in his wolf costume, Max wreaks so much havoc (sound familiar?) he is sent to bed before dinner. That night, his bedroom transforms into a forest, and he is taken to where the wild things are. The perfect night-time story for all those loveable little monsters out there.
This is a classic board book for babies which combines the peek-a-boo fun activity and the with the fun of flaps to lift. On each page a baby hides from something.
The best books for 4 year olds
A lift-the-flap book for little hands, deep in the heart of Acorn Wood, Bear is writing letters to his friends. Written by the award-winning team behind The Gruffalo, your children will love the easy-to-read rhyme.
From writing songs for McFly to bedtime stories for tots, dad of two Tom Fletcher clearly knows exactly what children love in a book. Teaming up with bandmate Dougie Poynter, the duo tell the story of Danny and Dinosaur on their mission to space (without Dino’s all important lunchbox).
This award-winning picture book gave rise to a series of books about Daisy, the spirited little girl, who doesn’t like much of what she’s given for tea – and will not be tempted by anything.
From the author of the Horrid Henry books, this is a beautiful picture book about a little boy who likes chatting to the moon. The illustrations are striking – there are lovely scenes to look at including deep-diving mermaids and cloud-topped mountains, smiling tigers and children all looking out to the moon.
Sarah, Percy, and Bill, three owl babies, wake up one night and don't find their mom. Their loneliness makes them anxious but is overcome with relief and joy when their mummy owl comes back.
Like your little one, Wibbly Pig wants to do everything but go to be. With this book, your baby will interact with counting, vocabulary, and emotions.
The best books for 5 year olds
This book is undoubtedly the number one modern children's classic. It’s a publishing phenomenon, has sold over three million copies worldwide, been turned into a TV adaptation and led to numerous merchandise spin-offs (Trunkis, duvets, onesies…you name it). But it’s the simplicity of the fable-like story – a clever mouse escaping the clutches of other woodland animals – and the colourful characters and wonderful illustrations by Axel Scheffler that make it a firm family favourite.
The adventurous tale of Stick Man! A dog wants to play with him, a swan wants to build her nest with him; will he ever get back to the family tree in one piece?
This won Best Picture Book at Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2014, and we can see why. It starts off as a regular story about the Ugly Duckling, but suddenly the book is invaded by a hungry crocodile who starts gobbling up letters off the page, leaving the duckling shouting ‘St p! Mr Cr c dile!’ Plenty of participation from you and your little one will help you get to the end of the story.
Loved by generations, this book follows a family as the dad takes his children, and dog, on an adventure to find a bear. It's the perfect contemporary book for a rainy day.
An absolute classic, your children's bookshelf wouldn't be complete without the wonderful tales by Beatrix Potter, starting of course with the legendary Peter Rabbit.
This book has 225 words vital to 'new reader' vocabulary. The cheeky Cat arrives and causes mayhem with his suggested rainy day games in the home of two young children, while their mother is out.
Why is it important to read to my baby?
- Creating bedtime routine: Even though your newborn is still too little to understand what you are saying, it is a soothing ritual to start from a young age.
- Learning to talk: Your baby will settle with the sound of your voice, and will subconsciously pick up the rhythms, tones, and inflexions of your voice which can help when they learn to read later on.
- Developing eyesight: The stories might be too complex, but from birth to around three-months-old, your baby is learning to focus their eyes on simple patterns. All of these books will have bright illustrations, shapes, and letters to occupy your baby.
- Storytelling skills: Your baby will develop his or her own imagination in time, and storytelling will be a big part of this. Reading to your baby from an early age can encourage this.
- Developing empathy: Scientists have found that children who have stories read to them regularly show more empathy, and find it easier to understand people.
- Extending understanding: As your tot gets older, at the end of story time stop and ask them ‘why do you think this character did that’ — this can help your child develop their understanding and vocabulary.
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