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The best baby books: 21 of the best books for babies and toddlers

Section: Toys & Education

The best baby books

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, they’ve been proven to help improve speech and language skills too.

Why is it important to read to my baby?

  • The 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 ryhtms, tones and infelections 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 illstrations, 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 foud 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 storytime stop and ask them ‘why do you think this character did that’ – this can help your child develop their understanding and vocabulary.

What are the best baby books to buy for my baby?

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 Very Hungry Caterpillar, £5.24, Amazon

£5.24 Buy Now

Hungry Caterpillar

The classic baby book that has definitely stood the test of time, start reading to your baby with this everlasting tale of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

My First Gruffalo Little Library, £3.00, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

First Gruffalo

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.

Squeaky Baby Bath Book Baby Animals - Baby Touch and Feel, £4.99, Amazon

£5.99 Buy Now

Baby animals

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.

Faces: Baby Touch First Focus, £3.99, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

Baby Touch First Faces

Part of the Ladybird best-selling Baby Touch range, this baby book contains a range of bright, high-contract 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.

Baby’s Very First Noisy Nursery Rhymes, £6.99, Amazon

£6.09 Buy Now

Noisy nursery rhymes

A cute book with a sound panel your baby will love, the easy to press buttons 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.

Dear Zoo, £4.00, Amazon

£3.49 Buy Now

Dear Zoo

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?

That’s not My Kitten, £4.00, Amazon

£3.49 Buy Now

Kitten

One for the cat lovers out there, this touchy-feel 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.

Hello You, £5.99, Amazon

£4.69 Buy Now

Hello You

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 peep holes. The contrasting colours, bold patterns and mirror are designed to focus developing eyes.

Baby Touch and Feel Animals, £3.99, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

Farm animals

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.

Peter Rabbit Finger Puppet Book, £5.57, Amazon

£5.75 Buy Now

Peter Rabbit

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.

What are the best books to buy for my toddler?

Once your little one is ready for a more complex story at bedtime, here are a few classics to add to their bookshelf:

The Gruffalo, £3.49, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

The Gruffalo

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.

Guess How Much I Love You, £3.00, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

Guess how much I love you

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.

Fox's Socks - Tales From Acorn Wood, £3.89, Amazon

£2.99 Buy Now

Fox's Socks

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. 

The Tiger Who Came to Tea, £12.38, Amazon

£4.49 Buy Now

Tiger who came to tea

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? 

The Dinosaur that pooped a planet, £5.99, Amazon

Dinosaur Pooped a Planet

From writing songs for McFly to bedtime stories for tots, dad of two Tom Fletcher clearly knows exactly what little boys (and girls) 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). 

Postman bear, £3.59, Amazon

£2.99 Buy Now

Postman Bear

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, you’ll love the easy to read rhyme. 

Stick man, £5.24, Amazon

£4.19 Buy Now

Stick Man

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?  

Where the Wild Things Are, £3.46, Amazon

£3.99 Buy Now

Where the wild things are

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.

Eat Your Peas, £6.99, Amazon

£6.99 Buy Now

Eat your peas

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.

Open Very Carefully, £6.42, Amazon

£6.71 Buy Now

Open very carefully

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.

Do you speak English, Moon?, £7.92, Amazon

£9.99 Buy Now

Do you speak english moon

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.

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