The 20 Best Baby Books Of All Time

Want Baby to smile? Learn her shapes? Calm down before bed? Books can do it all! Leading librarians for children name their top picks for the under-1 set.

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Noodle

Stephanie Rausser

Noodle

Illustrated by Marion Billet

Featuring Noodle the Panda, this series has touch-and-feel elements, such as mirrors, fur, and foil. 

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Everywhere Babies

Courtesy of Harcourt Children's Books

Everywhere Babies

by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee

Babies are dressed, fed, rocked, and loved “for trying so hard...and being so wonderful.” 

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Black on White

Courtesy of Greenwillow Books

Black on White

by Tana Hoban

This wordless book’s contrasting illustrations are easy for brand-new babies to see.

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Look Look!

Courtesy of Dutton Children's Books

Look Look!

by Peter Linenthal 

“My oldest child’s first smile came reading this book,” says Katie O’Dell, of the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon. 

5 of 20

The Swing

Courtesy of Simply Read Books

The Swing

by Robert Louis Stevenson, Illustrated by Julie Morstad 

“There are few board books you can say are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and this is one of them,” says Elizabeth Bird, of the New York Public Library. 

6 of 20

Wee Rhymes

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

Wee Rhymes

by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Jane Dyer 

This multicultural collection of 75 short poems is a great mix of traditional Mother Goose and new rhymes. “The book’s big, so it’s easy to hold and read to your baby,” says Amy Sears, of the Teaneck Public Library in New Jersey.

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Diggers Go

Courtesy of Chronicle Books

Diggers Go

by Steve Light

Librarians made lots of noise when this book debuted. The fun sounds of a construction site, such as pa-lump, brrumm, and scruuunchh, will delight your baby when you read them out loud to her. Give it your all! 

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Trains

Courtesy of HarperFestival

Trains

by Byron Barton

“Bright colors, simple shapes, and the alluring subject will keep this on the shelf for decades to come,” says O’Dell. 

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Oink, Moo, Meow Oink, Muu, Miau

Courtesy of Sterling Children's Books

Oink, Moo, Meow Oink, Muu, Miau

Does the chick go cluck or plo? Both! “This book shows how animal noises don’t always sound the same in English and Spanish,” says Sam Lumetta, of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 

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Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

Courtesy of Random House Books

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

by Dr. Seuss

Before your child is ready for The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, read this short Seuss title that focuses on making silly sounds like pop, and klopp, and dibble dopp.

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Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?

Courtesy of Little Simon

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?

by Karen Katz

Although it’s hard to choose a single Katz title (she has dozens of board books under her belt), librarians landed on this lift-the-flap book because babies can seamlessly learn the names of their body parts while they play peekaboo. 

12 of 20

Goodnight Moon

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Goodnight Moon

by Margaret Wise Brown 

First published in 1947, this beloved bedtime tale has stood the test of time with its singsong rhymes. The book also lasts beyond your baby’s first year. “Toddlers delight in finding items in their own bedroom that are similar to those from the bedroom in the book,” says Pamela Farris, Ph.D., professor of children’s literature at Illinois State University in Normal. 

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A Good Day

Courtesy of Greenwillow Books

A Good Day

by Kevin Henkes

Most of Henkes’s biggest hits, like Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, are for preschoolers and older children, but A Good Day is a great start for infants. “The beautiful artwork conveys the emotions in the story that even a baby can understand,” explains Susan Lempke, of the Niles Public Library in Illinois. 

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But Not the Hippopotamus

Courtesy of Little Simon

But Not the Hippopotamus

by Sandra Boynton

One of Boynton’s first of many bestselling books, “it’s the most fun to read aloud, with silly lines like ‘a moose and goose together have juice’ and a ‘bear and hare have been to a fair,’ ” says Bird.

15 of 20

Peek-a Who?

Courtesty of Chronicle Books

Peek-a Who?

by Nina Laden 

Clever page cutouts allow little ones to glimpse what’s peeking out from the next page. (Train tracks represent peek-a-choo-choo, for instance.) Librarians say that a baby’s favorite part is peek-a-you: looking at himself in the mirror on the last page. 

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You Are My Baby: Garden

Courtesy of Chronicle Books

You Are My Baby: Garden

by Lorena Siminovich

The format is genius: A cutaway design divides this board book into two connected stories about garden animals. The sounds the critters make, like “crunchy-yum-yum,” are adorable. 

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Pat the Bunny

Courtesy of Golden Books

Pat the Bunny

by Dorothy Kunhardt

The original touch-andfeel book, published in 1940, is still popular. “You can guide Baby’s hand to stroke the fur and have her look in the mirror,” says Dr. Farris. 

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Blankie

Courtesy of Candlewick

Blankie

by Leslie Patricelli 

Babies can safely sleep with a blanket after their first birthday, and the attachment to them can be fierce. Librarians say this book about a diaperclad kid who takes a blanket everywhere and talks about it as a friend (“I’m afraid of the dark. But Blankie isn’t.”) is reassuring to toddlers.

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Alphaprints ABC

Courtesy of Priddy Books

Alphaprints ABC

by Roger Priddy

Each letter is represented by an animal that’s been created with a fingerprint and silly elements. “I love that the fingerprints have a raised texture for babies to feel,” says Lumetta.

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Good Night, Gorilla

Courtesy of Puffin Books

Good Night, Gorilla

by Peggy Rathmann

This story of a watchman who makes his nightly rounds at the zoo and the gorilla that opens up the animals’ cages is told almost all by pictures. “As children get older, they pick up on the funny details, like the stuffed Babar in the elephant’s cage,” says Bird.

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