Most parents read to their babies out of tradition. However, reading to babies also has cognitive, developmental, and emotional benefits that shouldn't be overlooked. It not only helps their speech and communication skills but also builds their vocabulary. Their brains also benefit from being introduced to so many new words and phrases.
Since most children's books have pictures, when you read them to your little one, they're learning to associate words with sensory and visual cues. Plus, stories can be used to instill lessons, even if they don't yet understand them. Long story short? You should read to your baby. Given the nearly limitless possibilities, we've narrowed them down to 10 of the best books for babies.
10 The Giving Tree
The Giving Tree is a classic children's tale about a little boy who repeatedly visits a tree, which gives him anything he needs or wants. It starts with apples and, by the time the book is over, ends with its tree trunk. Never once does the tree complain or make the boy (later, grown-up) feel bad, so some critics have compared the relationship to the unconditional love between a parent and a child.
The Giving Tree was written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein in 1964. It has won numerous awards.
9 If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is a cute cautionary tale about people, or in this case, animals, who take a mile when you give them an inch. It follows a mouse who first asks a little boy for a cookie, but then asks for more and more with each request until the little boy is almost at his wit's end.
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie was written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. It was first published in 1985. It's popularity spawned several spin-offs based on different animals and a popular Amazon Prime show.
Corduroy is the story of a stuffed bear that lives in a department store, who longs to have an owner. One day, a little girl comes into the store where he's sold and asks her mom to let her buy him. Eventually, the mom complies, which kicks off the new friends' adventures together.
Corduroy was written by Don Freeman, who also served as the book's illustrator, in 1968. Since then, it has sold over 20 million copies and been nominated for several awards.
7 The Wonderful Things You Will Be
The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a great way for a parent to shower their little one with positive affirmations. The book uses playful poems for parents to express all of the things they imagine their child will become. It's also chock full of beautiful, colorful illustrations that really bring home the book's message.
It was written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin in 2015. Since then, it has sold over 1 million copies.
6 Where The Wild Things Are
Where The Wild Things Are is an adventurous tale about a boy named Max. Dressed in a wolf costume, Max causes severe destruction within his home, forcing his parents to put him to bed. While there, his overactive imagination transports him to a mysterious land, full of monsters and ghouls -- hence, the title.
Where The Wild Things Are was written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak in 1963. The next year, Maurice's artwork for the book won him a Caldecott medal, this highest honor for children's book illustrations. Since its release, it has sold over 20 million copies. In 2019, it was adapted into the hugely successful feature film of the same name.
5 Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is a fantastical children's book about a town where it rains orange juice, storms pancakes, and snows mashed potatoes. This means that the townspeople never have to buy groceries or cook their own food. Serving as a cautionary tale about how it's possible to have too much of a good thing, the daily servings of food become too much for the people to handle. Chaos ensues.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was written by Judi Barrett in 1982. It was illustrated by her husband, Ronald Barret. It has sold over 3 million copies and also been adapted into a popular feature film.
4 Ten Little Fingers, And Ten Little Toes
Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes is a book without a central story. What it does have, however, is the celebratory message that we're all the same, no matter our race, country of origin, or appearance. Through easy to remember rhymes, Ten Little Fingers focuses on the things that make all babies the same, rather than the things that make them different.
Ten Little Fingers And Ten Little Toes was written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury in 2010.
3 The Little Engine That Could
The Little Engine That Could proves that no one is ever too small to make a difference. After a train transporting toys to kids breaks down, a train with a "little engine" volunteers to pick up the slack. The long trip and steep hills makes the journey difficult, but the train never gives up.
The Little Engine was written by George Hauman and illustrated by Doris Hauman in 1930. Since then, it has sold over 30 million copies.
2 Love You Forever
Love You Forever perfectly encapsulates the love a parent feels for a child. Narrated by a mother to her son, the book follows their relationship as the child grows into adulthood. Even as he makes mistakes, she continues to reiterate how much she loves him.
Love You Forever was written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw in 1986. It has since gone on to become a worldwide favorite. It was also famously read aloud on an episode of Friends.
1 Goodnight, Moon
Goodnight Moon tells the story of a bunny child at bedtime. As the story unfolds, the bunny says goodbye to different objects within its home, before finishing with the moon. It's the perfect book for parents to wind the day down with and has been used for this purpose for years.
Goodnight, Moon was written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd in 1947. It has sold over 14 million copies.