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Developing a lifetime love of reading should be something that parents start working on the moment their beautiful baby emerges from the womb. Reading to young children not only helps develop speech and language skills, it can also provide a terrific foundation for future academic excellence. Plus, holding your little one while you narrate a story is a great bonding experience and a fantastic way to wind down after a busy day. Choosing the best books for kids to encourage a lifetime love of reading isn’t terribly difficult- there are so many wonderful books out there geared towards younger ages. Then again, the choices can be a bit overwhelming! We’ve rounded up a few of ideas of the best books for kids that make a great early reading library.
Best Books for Reading to Your Infant
Keep in mind that infants focus more on your voice and inflection than they do on the actual words. They may not understand the plot behind each story, but they are listening! Choose books with catchy rhymes because you will be more inclined to develop a fun rhythm while reading it. It’s also a good idea to opt for books with simple illustrations. Babies tend to be drawn to black, white and red more than any other color, but older infants will enjoy looking at pictures. Our choices for great infant books include:
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. This was one of my favorite books to read to my son. The rhythm of the words is just so much fun! Throughout the story, Bear is hibernating in his den and all these animals come along. One at a time, they’re just looking for a place to stay warm. Then it turns into a big party. Bear keeps snoring away until finally they get loud enough to wake him up. What do you think happens? Don’t worry, it’s not scary!
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This classic board book is a must for any infant’s library. The simply drawn pictures will catch the attention of little eyes, while the text is short enough to hold attentions. Try reading it in a gently, soothing tone to make it the perfect bedtime story. The story is also available in a cloth format, which is perfect for little hands to clutch and explore.
I Love You, Little One by Nancy Tafuri. This is the very first book I ever bought for my son, before he was even born. Throughout the story, six different Mama animals tell their babies just how much they love them, until the very end when a human Mom tells her child “I love you as the stars love you…”
Time for Bed by Mem Fox. One of my favorite bed time stories for babies, Mem Fox helps settle little ones for bedtime with gentle prose and soft watercolor illustrations. Each page features parent animals telling their baby animals that it’s time for bed in different ways. The story also makes an excellent lullaby when sung instead of read.
Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton. Pretty much any book by Boynton belongs on the best books for kids list, but this one is particularly fun for infants. It’s basically a “the cow says moo” type book, detailing different animal sounds. Boynton kicks it up a notch, thought, by increasing the overall silliness factor with the fun animal drawings. This is a great afternoon snuggle time book and the perfect excuse to get goofy!
Black on White by Tana Hoban. While there are no words in this book, it’s one of the best books for babies because of the simple black photos on a white background. It’s very appealing to even the youngest babies and may help develop their vision, giving them an opportunity to focus on something that really catches their eyes. Point to each picture and name it as you go through.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz. This lift-the-flap book is perfect for older infants (around 5 months or so). It helps teach your infant where the different body parts are. Each page asks “where is baby’s…” then gives the answer by lifting the flap. For example, “Where are Baby’s Eyes?” Then you lift the hat flap on the next page and it says “Under her hat!” Little ones love discovering surprises, and lift-the-flap books are a lot of fun for them.