Best Baby Books of 2017

Our 15 faves of the year, tested by families and librarians, will delight you and your little one. Read them from birth to teach her about letters, make her smile, even create a smooth bedtime routine.

1 of 15

Tiny Town

Jeff Harris

Tiny Town

by Suzy Ultman

Shaped liked a building, each spread focuses on places and things that your child will encounter around town. “It’s the perfect size for my 10-month-old to hold,” says one mom tester. “She loved flipping through the pages and learned several new words from the book.” 

2 of 15

Before & After

Jeff Harris

Before & After

by Jean Jullien

Vivid, full-page illustrations marked with the words before or after help teach the concept of time. “My favorite ‘before’ scene has a father and child in a car, but in the ‘after,’ their hair is sticking up and their eyes are wide with surprise,” says Karen Ginman, youth collections coordinator at the New York and Brooklyn public libraries. “The flaps open to reveal that they’re on a roller-coaster ride.” 

3 of 15

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet

Jeff Harris

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet

by Mrs. Peanuckle, illustrated by Jessie Ford

This book will grow with your baby: At first, point out the veggies—from jicama to  lima beans to mushrooms—all of which are drawn with a happy face to help them look friendly. “I read the book to my 13-monthold before dinner, and we talked about which of the vegetables we were going to eat,” says one mom. As your baby gets older, talk to her about the letters.

4 of 15

Feminist Baby

Jeff Harris

Feminist Baby

by Loryn Brantz

Feminist mommies tried not to show bias as they read this book to their sons and daughters but were happy that the baby on the cover, bold illustrations, and funny lines like “Feminist baby makes lots of noise” caught their little one’s attention. “I personally love the message, and my daughter belly-laughed throughout the book and handed it back for a second read,” says the mom of an 11-month-old. 

5 of 15

Bathtime for Little Rabbit

Jeff Harris

Bathtime for Little Rabbit

by Jörg Mühle

Our tiny testers jumped right into the interactive element of this step-by-step story. As parents read, “Can you call him?” “Can you put shampoo on him?” and “Rub him dry,” babies and toddlers acted out the bath routine. “It’s a sweet, easy read at bedtime, and I actually found it relaxing myself,” says the dad of an 11-month-old. 

6 of 15

Peekaboo Baby Animals

Jeff Harris

Peekaboo Baby Animals

Illustrated by Maddie Frost

This clever book poses questions like “Who is in the jungle where the grass grows high?” and illustrations give clues (like a tiger’s tail). Once your child guesses, slide open the page to reveal the full illustration and more text. “We’re normally suspicious of ‘moving’ books, but this one was sturdy,” says the mom of a 1-year-old. “My son loved making the sounds of the animals. In fact, we read this story five times in a row.”

7 of 15

Train

Jeff Harris

Train

by Chris Demarest

A reissue of an out-of-print classic, this short book, perfect for bedtime or to take on a trip, has a nice rhyming cadence: “Train chugs, clickity-clack. Engine up front, caboose in back.” Some toddler testers memorized the book and “read” it back to their parents. 

8 of 15

Welcome Home, Baby!

Jeff Harris

Welcome Home, Baby!

by Abigail Tabby, illustrated by Sam Williams

This heart-tugging story shows your baby around her new home, from the room where “you’ll snuggle in tight” to the hallway where “you’ll take your first steps.” Says one mom tester: “Although my 11-month-old enjoyed it now, it would have been so nice to read this to her when I first brought her home from the hospital.” Put it on your registry list so it’s waiting for you in the nursery! 

9 of 15

First Words and Pictures: Animals

Jeff Harris

First Words and Pictures: Animals

by Margot Channing, illustrated by Jean Claude

Little ones can learn the words for more than 90 animals, smartly grouped into categories such as safari, farm, pets, and sea creatures. “My son was captivated by the colorful drawings and reached out to touch a few of the animals as I turned the pages,” says the mom of an 8-month-old. “The book let my husband and me share plenty of fun animal sounds with him, although we had to get creative with a few, like for the goldfish and sloth!”

10 of 15

Not Quite Black and White

Jeff Harris

Not Quite Black and White

by Jonathan Ying, illustrated by Victoria Ying

Books that have black-and-white illustrations are perfect for newborns because they help stimulate vision development, and the ones in this title have an added pop of color. The story also ends with a beautiful message: “From the darkest of the dark to the brightest of the bright, we’re each pretty special, not quite black and white.” 

11 of 15

Dream

Jeff Harris

Dream

by Matthew Cordell

A picture book about gorilla parents who dream about their newborn’s future will give you all the feels. “I teared up reading it to my 3-month-old,” says one mom tester. “It’s a modern version of Love You Forever.” Buy it for your bestie’s baby shower, and write a sweet message inside. Or put it on your own list! 

12 of 15

Dance

Jeff Harris

Dance

by Matthew Van Fleet

Our little testers got on their feet while listening to this book that encourages kids to “shake, shake, shake,” “hop, hop, hop,” and “boom, boom, boom.” Says the mom of a 10-month-old, “My son liked that pulling the book’s six tabs moved the animal’s arms or legs, and he tried to move his body in the same way.” 

13 of 15

A Little Stuck

Jeff Harris

A Little Stuck

by Oliver Jeffers

Jeffers adapted his popular picture book Stuck for the younger set, creating a sturdy, uniquely shaped title that centers on a boy who gets his kite tangled in a tree. “It gets funnier by the page,” says the dad of an 11-month-old. “I may have laughed even more than my daughter.” No spoilers! 

14 of 15

Bear in a Square

Jeff Harris

Bear in a Square

Illustrated by Amélie Falière

We loved this original concept: Most spreads have a solid-color shape on the left side and face an animal curled up in that shape—hamsters are in circles, monkeys in triangles, swans in hearts, and, of course, a bear in a square. Kid testers especially loved the last two pages, when all the animals come together aboard “the shape train.”

15 of 15

This Little Reindeer

Jeff Harris

This Little Reindeer

by Aly Fronis, illustrated by Luke Flowers

A twist on “The Three Little Pigs,” this book follows a two-legged reindeer who “goes to the market,” “loads the sleigh,” and “maps his way” to holiday-related fun. Families liked searching for a bunny hidden in each spread. It’s perfect for your baby’s first (and second) Christmas!

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