One of the most important things you can do with your children is read together. Kids who are read to often begin to read faster, and the love of reading is a great gift. Reading together is also a bonding experience. Using books to gauge interest in hobbies or topics keeps you closer to your kids as they get into the pre-teen and teenage years, and reading lets imaginations run wild. It also teaches problem solving and can provoke conversations about complex topics. You can also share your favorite childhood books and family memories.
We asked you for your favorite books for baby’s first reading list, and we added our own favorites. Tell us in the comments what other books you recommend!
The Richard Scarry books have been around since we were babies, and they are timeless. The pictures let kids read the story for themselves before any words are necessary. Scarry is still one of the best-selling children’s illustrators of all time. The books are detailed for long or short reads, and a favorite on our family road trips. Ask for some of the books at your baby shower, maybe asking the giver to write in the cover pages about their favorite memories reading the book.
Another very popular and engaging series for babies that toddlers will also enjoy are the Sarah Gillingham “In My” books. The books come with a finger puppet that lets children be an active participant in the stories. The pages are die-cut in layers, and the books are very sturdy for the youngest readers. These make great big brother or big sister books to read to a new baby. While very short, the puppets extend the reading time.
What would any beginning reading list be without Goodnight Moon? The classic story of trying to evade bedtime will never get outdated, and the comforting arrival of darkness while remaining interested in the surroundings is genius. One of those books you can read hundreds of times, we recommend buying a sturdy version the first time for many happy bedtimes.
Another classic, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is one of the best books ever to read aloud. Babies will find it fun to be jostled while you make funny noises, while toddlers will enjoy the suspense and sound effects. Many nights the whole family marched around the house pretending to hunt the bear, find the bear and run back to bed together. Great fun!
Another book that requires almost no reading, Goodnight, Gorilla always gets a big laugh. The suspense builds for such a long time and when the naughty gorilla is caught in bed, it’s hard not to belly laugh, even after dozens of readings. The details are fun for older kids to pick out and the pink balloon and mouse with banana are clever touches.
Jamberry is one of those books that might not be an instant favorite. It appears on so many must-read lists but the syrupy sweet story isn’t ultra-compelling. Until it is. Perhaps children have the imagination to dream this story and the razmatazzberry sneaks up on you, but one day you’ll notice the book is dog-eared and very well loved. Something about it is so joyful and innocent you can’t help fall under its spell.
Every kid we know has a fascination with their belly button at some point. The hippos in Belly Button Book go to the beach to show theirs off and a lot of singing and dancing ensues. This is one of the best Sandra Boynton books, we also love her Going to Bed Book. Another fun navel-centric book is Where is Baby’s Belly Button?
Dr. Seuss books are a staple on any child’s nightstand. Green Eggs and Ham and Horton Hears a Who are a bit long for babies, but Fox in Socks makes for a challenging read (try to read aloud fast!) and enough silly talk that older babies will enjoy it. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is another good choice for babies, the rhymes are engaging and older siblings can read this to younger brothers and sisters.
We fight it, we wash our hands, but eventually, we get sick. Bear Feels Sick is the perfect book to have on hand for those days. Bear’s friends come and tend to him and do nice things to help him feel better and there’s a surprise laugh at the end. All of the Karma Wilson “Bear” books are equally sweet and teach good friendship and life skills.
For any little monster, a reading of Where the Wild Things Are sets the world right. We started reading this in a really abbreviated version and then slowly integrated the whole story. Another book you can act out or have more conversation about, Max and his friends will be a lifelong memory.