100 Best Books for Your Baby’s Library

Building my baby’s library was what got me through pregnancy.

During my many years as a teacher, I collected picture books for my future child and once I was actually pregnant, I went all-out building my baby’s library. It was a hobby I relished, as I was determined to have a child who loved to read and I knew that having a robust home library would be a big part of that. Also, I otherwise abhorred pregnancy, so focusing on the creation of a ridiculous library was an excellent distraction.

Because my background is in education and because of my expertise in literacy, selecting titles for my baby’s library came naturally to me. I’ve realized, though, that this isn’t as simple for others and because it’s such a key part of fostering a love of reading, I wanted to share a list of the 100 Best Books for Your Baby’s Library.

Rules for Selecting Books for Baby’s Library

  1. Books that don’t suck to read. What makes a book sucky to read? Anything that is long and boring. There are very few long, boring books on this list. You’re welcome.
  2. Books that are relatively gender neutral. There are a couple books on the list that one may argue are “girl” books or “boy” books, but in my opinion, all of the books on this list are good for boys and girls and are enjoyable for moms and dads to read aloud.
  3. A good combination of classics and contemporary. You’ll recognize some of these titles from when we were kids. In fact, you may very well come across some of your favorite books that you’d forgotten about. But there are also so many great books that have recently been written and I’ve included many of those titles as well.
  4. Lovable characters. Mo Willems’ Pigeon, Ian Falconer’s Olivia, Curious George, Pete the Cat… the list goes on. Your baby will love these characters and so will you. I can’t stand cats, but I love Pete the Cat.
  5. Prolific authors. The vast majority of authors on this list have written many, many children’s books. So, if you like one of these books, the chances are high that you can find several other books by the same author to add to your library.
  6. Books that will span infancy through first grade. There are board books, Indestructibles, Lift-the-flap books and picture books to make your library last from the time your baby comes home to the time she begins to read independently. You’ll get a lotta mileage out of your baby’s library.

100 Best Books for Your Baby’s Library

For your convenience, I’ve included links to Amazon and thumbnails in case you want to judge some of these books by their covers. (If you do purchase from Amazon, make sure to do it through smile.amazon.com and to select a charity so that a portion of your proceeds go towards a good cause.)

Baby's LibraryOlivia by Ian Falconer

I love Olivia and so will you.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryDon’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

This book is so fun to read, especially when your child’s favorite word is No!

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryKnuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

The best part of this story is the look on the dad’s face when he realizes he lost his daughter’s toy bunny. Mo Willems gets a gold star for depicting that Oh, shit! moment.

 

 

Baby's LibraryGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

It’s awesome. My mom bought Kyle this book because he loves to purposely read books incorrectly because “Penelope doesn’t know the difference.” This fractured fairy tale can be read as is while still keeping dads entertained. Win win.

 

Baby's LibraryRude Cakes by Rainbow Watkins

A rude cake is a metaphor for your a-hole toddler. I’m pretty sure Rainbow had just had ENOUGH and, while drowning his misery in cake, he decided to write a book that would show his toddler who’s boss. Anyway, you can read this book and your kid will think it’s all about cakes who are jerks, but you will know the truth.

 

Baby's LibraryIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff & Felicia Bond

This book makes me hungry. Don’t read it if you’re still contending with postpartum baby weight. Also, don’t read this book if you have OCD, as it will send you over the edge.

 

 

Baby's LibraryLifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer & Christopher Silas Neal

Because the random facts this book teaches you (because for the first year you’re reading this book your baby won’t understand any of it) come in handy when you wanna drop some knowledge on your friends or random strangers at a bar.

 

Baby's LibraryYour Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon

This is excellent propaganda for dads.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryAre You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

Wow. That thumbnail looks terrible. Anyway, we all remember this book from our childhood (and our parents probably remember it from theirs). As an adult, I can’t help but wonder, What the hell is the matter with this bird? But it’s still a good, classic read.

 

Baby's LibraryBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle

Because you can never get enough of Eric Carle’s illustrations. Even if your baby’s nursery is Eric Carle-themed, you still want more Eric Carle.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Ugh, these thumbnails suck. Oh, and this is a good book.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Dan Santat

This modern take on a classic story is awesome. The illustrations are poppin’ and it’s written in rhyme, so it’s fun to read aloud. (Please forgive the terrible thumbnail.)

 

 

Baby's LibraryTime for Bed by Mem Fox & Jane Dyer

A sweet little bedtime story.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryGoodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld

Dads love this book and I like that Penelope is learning all about trucks and tractors and shit.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryWalter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle & Glenn Murray

Yes. You read that title correctly. Freakin’ hilarious.

 

 

 

Baby's Library

I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman

You’ll need to read Walter the Farting Dog after this one in order to stop crying.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryOn the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

This book will make you so sentimental you’ll want another baby. Fortunately, the baby you have will bring you back to reality by wiping a booger on your arm and then demanding you read her this book AGAIN.

 

Baby's LibraryLlama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

I can’t decide if I like these books or not, but Penelope likes them, so I put one on this list. (My friend’s daughter hates these books because the llama creeps her out.)

 

 

Baby's LibraryLet’s Go for a Drive (An Elephant & Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie are hilarious. If you like this book, there are at least a dozen others in the series.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf & Robert Lawson

Ferdinand’s a lover not a fighter. This was one of my favorite childhood stories and still one of my favorite stories to read to Penelope. Also, Lena Dunham has a Ferdinand tattoo, so there’s that.

 

 

Baby's LibraryA Color of His Own by Leo Lionni

Whether or not it was Leo Lionni’s intent, this story could today be interpreted as being about a gay chameleon, which is awesome.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

That’s right. No pictures. Imagine that!

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryDoctor De Soto by William Steig

William Steig also wrote Shrek! (Did you even know Shrek was a children’s book before it was the best movie ever?!)

 

 

Baby's LibraryClick, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin & Betsy Lewin

I love these books. I think it’s hilarious how the farm animals eff with Farmer Brown who, based upon the illustrations, looks like he totally deserves it.

 

 

Baby's LibraryCowpoke Clyde Rides the Range by Lori Mortensen & Michael Allen Austin

Kyle reads this book aloud to Penelope with a western accent and it’s hilarious.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryGood Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

There aren’t many words in this book, which makes it an excellent read aloud when you are not in the mood to read, but still want to maintain the routine.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Am I the only one who thinks the little boy in this story is a jerk? By the end of the book I want to punch him.

 

 

Baby's LibraryWhere the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

A whole book of silly poems? Yes, please!

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryGiraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

Technically speaking, giraffes really can’t dance. But in this book, Gerald defies reality and busts out some sweet moves.

 

 

Baby's LibraryPete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Our love for Pete the Cat runs real real deep. Yours will too.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryDuck on a Bike by David Shannon

This clever duck finds a bike and all the other animals are like, WTF?! But then they get the chance to ride bikes and realize it’s tons of fun.

 

 

Baby's LibraryNo, David! by David Shannon

When I taught first grade, this was the book that kids wanted to read during choice reading time because there’s a picture of David running down the street butt naked and they thought it was HILARIOUS.

 

Baby's LibraryReading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr

More propaganda.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryHug Machine by Scott Campbell

This book got me through chemotherapy. True story. It was a gift from a friend and I read it to Poppy throughout treatment and found immense comfort. This is the picture book that inspired me to write my own picture book (published by Penguin and coming in fall 2017!).

 

Baby's LibraryGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd

Another classic. This book doesn’t really make sense, but I think we all look past that because we’re like, “But it’s such a good book!”

 

 

Baby's LibraryHere Comes Destructosaurus by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard

Because babies and toddlers and little kids ARE destructosauruses. Seriously. Hide anything of value, anything remotely nice, anything expensive, anything that has to be dry cleaned, anything that you care about. Your kid will eventually destroy everything you own. But you’ll forgive them because you have no other choice.

 

Baby's LibraryIggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

The rhyming in this book is genius. Plus, it’s about a kid who wants to be an architect, which is awesome.

 

 

Baby's LibraryRosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts

Same as above, except the protagonist is female and this book has an engineering slant. Also, check out Ada Twist, Scientist, another book in the series with a little black girl as the protagonist (something that makes me so happy to see in children’s literature, where there is a dearth of black children on the covers of books).

 

Baby's LibraryChicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. & Lois Elhert

“Boom!” Poppy says, as she throws this book in my face brings this book to me to read to her. While Kyle doesn’t understand this book and can’t get over the fact that it doesn’t make sense that a bunch of letters would be climbing up a coconut tree, I think this is a great little rhyming alphabet book.

 

Baby's LibraryPlanting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert

This is a good book for teaching colors. I recommend the board book edition. We keep our copy in the backseat of the car so we can hand it to Penelope when she’s losing her shit.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

I love this story. The illustrations are beautiful and it’s a sweet story about an imaginary friend whose trying to find his human companion in New York City.

 

 

Baby's LibraryOwen by Kevin Henkes

The only caveat about Kevin Henkes’ books is that they are a bit long. But, the stories are sweet and the illustrations are wonderful. These books will be especially enjoyable to read when your little one is in kindergarten and first grade.

 

Baby's LibraryChrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Poppy can totally empathize with Chrysanthemum, who is teased because she’s named after a flower and her name has 13 letters in it! Penelope Sliwerski feels your pain, Chrysanthemum.

 

 

Baby's LibraryLilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

I adore Lilly’s spirit, especially her impulsiveness. Also, check out those accessories.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryNinja Bunny by Jennifer Gray Olson

Because one ninja book isn’t enough, you’ve gotta get this ninja book, too.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Napping House by Audrey Wood & Dan Wood

This was one of my favorite stories as a child. I keep hoping that if I read this story to Poppy enough she will finally take a nap. Thus far, I’ve been unsuccessful.

 

 

Baby's LibraryPress Here by Herve Tullet

This book is genius. Herve Tullet takes your toddler on a colorful, kinesthetic adventure. If you love this story, there are more in the series!

 

 

Baby's LibraryBernice Gets Carried Away by Hannah E. Harrison

Bernice is having a crappy day, so she steals a bouquet of balloons and while flying through the sky, she gains some much-needed perspective. By the time she lands, she’s in a much better mood. This story has a good moral for children and adults. And, another favorite by Hannah E. Harrison is Extraordinary Jane.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra & Melissa Sweet

Because you can never have enough rhyming alphabet books.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryDragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin & Daniel Salmieri

Just a great story.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryPeekaboo Kisses (A Touch and Feel Book) by Barney Saltzberg

You’ll understand why touch and feel books are a must-have for your home library when your kid turns 1.

 

 

Baby's LibraryCurious George by H.A. Rey

A classic and one of my personal favorites from my own childhood.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryI’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

Short, simple read that’s also funny and also another book about the power of perspective.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffer

This book is a bit long, as evidenced by Penelope’s impatient turning of the page before I’m even done reading it, but it’s clever and it rhymes and you’ll love it.

 

 

Baby's LibraryPotty by Leslie Patricelli

Because eventually you’re gonna have to train your kid to poop and pee somewhere other than a diaper.

 

 

Baby's LibraryEveryone Poops by Taro Gomi

The title says it all. (How funny is that apple?)

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryPajama Time by Sandra Boynton

My grandmother bought this book for Penelope and instead of reading it, she sang the words. To this day, Kyle and I walk around the house singing, “Jamma jamma jamma jamma PJ’s!” to ourselves long after Penelope has gone to sleep.

 

Baby's LibraryLittle Blue Truck by Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry

Another fun rhyming book with an important life lesson — don’t be a jerk.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryPeek-a Who? by Nina Laden

Like lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel books, this little board book will be a life saver in the car, on the train, on a plane, at a restaurant, or any other place where you need your baby to attempt to entertain herself.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen & Dan Hanna

Thanks to this book, Penelope thinks fish are called “blub blubs.”

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryDog by Matthew Van Fleet & Brian Stanton

The best line from this book — All dogs pee — comes to life with a tab to pull to lift the dog’s leg so it can pee on a tree. True story. Not a fan of dogs? That’s ok. This interactive book has a cat companion conveniently entitled Cat!

 

Baby's LibraryFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick & Sophie Blackall

I bet you didn’t know Winnie the Pooh was a real bear. Oh, and Winnie was a she! Learn the story behind Winnie the Pooh with this beautiful nonfiction book.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers

This book is on the long side, but it is so cute and clever, it’s worth the read. Plus, crayons deserve empathy, too.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is a fantastic illustrator and he also writes his own books. This one is a favorite of mine, but you really can’t go wrong with anything Oliver Jeffers has written or illustrated.

 

 

Baby's LibraryI Am Yoga by Susan Verde & Peter H. Reynolds

Because I know all my friends who read this blog will appreciate this book. Illustrator Peter H. Reynolds also wrote two of his own books — The Dot and IshI have both of those books and I love them.

 

Baby's LibraryBooks Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt & Sarah Massini

You can never have enough books about books.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryI Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt & Cyd Moore

Every child is a Stinky Face. This book is sweet and its message is powerful: no matter how much of a pain in the ass your kid is, you will still always love her.

 

 

Baby's LibraryPaul Thurlby’s Wildlife by Paul Thurlby

Paul Thurlby also has an alphabet book and the art is fantastic. This book has fun, random facts about animals. For example, I learned that when bears hibernate during the winter, they don’t poop! Who knew?!

 

Baby's LibraryI Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Micklethwait

If you majored in art history, this book is for you. Reading this book aloud to your kiddo will make you feel sophisticated, even if you haven’t washed your hair in days and your clothes have avocado stains all over them.

 

Baby's LibraryCorduroy by Don Freeman

The 1960’s throwback illustrations are awesome. Equally awesome: it’s a black protagonist. Way to go, Don Freeman. Thank you.

 

 

Baby's LibraryMadeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

Because we all wish we were Parisians.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryWhere the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Am I the only one who thinks it’s messed up that the mom sent her kid to bed without dinner?

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryBlueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Another favorite Robert McCloskey book from my childhood is Make Way for Ducklings. Caveat: This book has a lot of words.

 

 

Baby's LibraryAnd Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole

This is the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who really want a baby. With the help of compassionate zookeepers, they adopt a baby penguin named Tango and live happily ever after as a loving family.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

This book is a must-have for every new parent. Your baby will be the boss of you. Also, Marla Frazee’s illustrations in this book are so awesome. Reading this book is like watching an early episode of Mad Men.

 

Baby's LibraryOld Macdonald Had a Farm (An Indestructible Book) by Jonas Sickler

My love for Indestructibles runs deep. I recommend having at least half a dozen of these spread between the crib, your purse, the diaper bag, the toy box and the car.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Wheels on the Bus by Paulo Zelinsky

As Penelope approaches age 2, she is really into interactive books. This book has pop ups, spinning wheels, tabs to pull. The fun never ends. And long after she’s tired of the book, I’m stuck with that damn song still in my head.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko

Straight up girl power. But, an important book to have in boys’ libraries as well.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryI Like Myself by Karen Beaumont & David Catrow

A sweet rhyming story about loving yourself and all your quirks that make you unique and special and wonderful.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

This book is a classic kindergarten/first grade story. Read it to your baby and you’ll pretty much guarantee acceptance into a gifted and talented program.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

As an adult who spends a lot of time reading to my child, I’ve decided Dr. Seuss was a sadist. These books are long and borderline tedious. But… I still recommend having them in your home library, as they are perfect for kindergarten and first grade when your kiddo begins to read.

 

Baby's LibraryUgly Fish by Kara LaReau

A hilarious picture book about a fish who’s a real jerk. So clever.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryA Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond & Peggy Fortnum

Because it’s fun to read books with a horrible, fake British accent.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryLove You Forever by Robert Munsch & Sheila McGraw

A must-have for all mothers of boys. Keep a box of tissues nearby.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryAnimalia by Graeme Base

Remember this one?! Enough said.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryA Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead & Erin E. Stead

A good story about the importance of compassion and taking care of people who take care of us.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryHow Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills

Tad Hills is the creator of the Duck and Goose stories. His illustrations are bright and beautiful. This is yet another title to add to the section of your library called, “You will love reading, dammit!”

 

 

Baby's LibraryMiss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard & James Marshall

Remember Viola Swamp?! This was one of my most cherished books as a child and I still have a well-loved copy that I received for my 8th birthday.

 

 

Baby's LibraryHarry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion & Margaret Bloy Graham

A classic.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryFirst 100 Words by Roger Priddy

I never understood these word books until I realized that pediatricians ask how many words your child can say and my response was, “Umm…” Don’t be like me. Get this book and help your kid learn words other than buttbyedada and mama.

 

Baby's LibraryDear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell

Another lift-the-flap book. This one is only a few dollars on Amazon. Total steal.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryWhere Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

You really can’t have enough lift-the-flap books. Trust me. From age 1 – 2 these books provide endless entertainment. This particular book is a good way to teach body parts. Or, you could be like me and merely teach your kid where her butt is and that her butt makes a farting sound.

 

Baby's LibraryThe Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

A classic pre-school and kindergarten story.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryHug by Jez Alborough

Similar to Jimmy Fallon’s Dada, this is a great story to read when you really aren’t in the mood to read. Plus, it’ll put you in a good mood because who doesn’t love hugs?

 

 

Baby's LibraryFancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor & Robin Preiss Glasser

Nancy is a francophile with a sick vocabulary and a flair for accessorizing. Enough said.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst & Ray Cruz

Because we’ve all been there.

 

 

 

Baby's LibraryFreight Train by Donald Crews

Because I want Penelope to be well rounded and to read books about topics that are not traditionally “girl” books.

 

 

Baby's LibraryStellaluna by Janell Cannon

A sweet little story about a bat who’s separated from her mommy. Don’t worry, they reunite at the end.

 

 

Baby's LibraryThis Is New York by M. Sasek

Whether it’s New York, San Francisco, Paris, London, wherever. Get an M. Sasek This Is… book. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

2 Comments

    1. I’m so proud to have made your list! Thanks for the Indestructibles love 🙂

      1. Wow! I am so honored that you commented on my blog! I am absolutely obsessed with Indestructibles and am doing everything I can to share the love with moms and teachers. Keep up the great work, Jonas. You are an inspiration to me.

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