Books for Baby Gifts

In our book group, one mem­ber asked, “Look­ing for help from the brain trust: what’s your go-to book gift for a new­born baby?” Thanks to Nan­cy J. John­son, April What­ley Bed­ford, Suzanne Cost­ner, Sara Ege­land, Nan­cy Bo Flood, Lin­néa Fonnest, Melanie Heuis­er Hill, and Mar­gy Strat­ton for con­tribut­ing ter­rif­ic sug­ges­tions to this list. Books are a won­der­ful way to encour­age fam­i­lies to start the read-aloud habit ear­ly and often. (Many of these are avail­able as hard­cov­ers, paper­backs, or board books, depend­ing on the for­mat you wish to give as a gift.)

5 Wild Num­bers
Bel­la Gomez
words & pic­tures, 2018
(board book)

Learn the num­bers 1 – 5 whilst dis­cov­er­ing the world of ani­mals and their habi­tats. With unique slid­ing cir­cu­lar discs on each page, chil­dren can count the ani­mals and trace their fin­gers over the num­bers. Clever paper engi­neer­ing com­bined with styl­ish repeat­ing pat­terns make this a fun inter­ac­tive read­ing expe­ri­ence and the per­fect first intro­duc­tion to num­bers and animals.

A Baby Like You
Cather­ine Thimmesh
Clar­i­on Books, 2019

Sib­ert Medal­ist Cather­ine Thimmesh con­nects babies across our ecosys­tem with com­pelling pho­tographs and a poet­ic text that shows how the every­day mile­stones babies take par­al­lel ani­mals’ in the world. Round­ed cor­ners and stur­dy paper make this the per­fect baby show­er gift!

Baby Touch and Feel: Wild Ani­mals
DK Chil­dren, 2009
many titles in this series

An inter­ac­tive and fun way to help your child learn not only words but shapes and tex­tures too. Bold, bright pic­tures and col­or­ful wild ani­mal-inspired illus­tra­tions will be more than enough to keep your baby’s atten­tion. This adorable pic­ture book is a per­fect first book for tod­dlers and makes for an ide­al baby gift. Babies and tod­dlers can turn the tough board book pages them­selves, which helps to devel­op their fine motor skills while build­ing an ear­ly lan­guage foundation.

writ­ten by Haley Bar­rett
illus­trat­ed by Jua­na Mar­tinez
Can­dlewick Press, 2019

The house is hushed. The lights are low.
We’re bask­ing in a new­born glow.

Inside the cozy house, a baby has arrived! The world is eager to meet the new­com­er, but there will be time enough for that lat­er. Right now, the fam­i­ly is on its baby­moon: cocoon­ing, con­nect­ing, learn­ing, and mud­dling through each new con­cern. While the term “baby­moon” is often used to refer to a par­ents’ get­away before the birth of a child, it was orig­i­nal­ly coined by mid­wives to describe days like these: at home with a new­born, with the world held at bay and the won­der of a new fam­i­ly con­stel­la­tion unfolding.

writ­ten by Bill Mar­tin, Jr. and John Archam­bault
illus­trat­ed by Lois Ehlert
Simon & Schus­ter, 1989

A told B,
and B told C,
“I’ll meet you at the
top of the coconut tree”

In this live­ly alpha­bet rhyme, all the let­ters of the alpha­bet race each oth­er up the coconut tree. Will there be enough room? Oh, no — Chic­ka Chic­ka Boom! Boom! Count­less chil­dren — and their par­ents — can joy­ful­ly recite the famil­iar words of this beloved alpha­bet chant. 

Don Free­man
Viking Books, 1968

Cor­duroy has been on the depart­ment store shelf for a long time. Yet as soon as Lisa sees him, she knows that he’s the bear for her. Her moth­er, though, thinks he’s a lit­tle shop­worn — he’s even miss­ing a but­ton! Still, Cor­duroy knows that with a bit of work he can tidy him­self up and be just the bear for Lisa. And where bet­ter to start than with a night­time adven­ture through the depart­ment store, search­ing for a new but­ton!

Cel­e­brate 50 years of this irre­sistible child­hood clas­sic, a heart­warm­ing sto­ry about a lit­tle bear and a lit­tle girl find­ing the friend they have always want­ed in each other.

Each Peach Pear Plum
Janet and Allen Ahlberg
Viking Books, 1979

A time­less pic­ture book clas­sic. Each beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed page encour­ages young chil­dren to inter­act with the pic­ture to find the next fairy tale and nurs­ery rhyme char­ac­ter. With your lit­tle eye, take a look, and play ‘I spy.’

Every­where Babies
writ­ten by Susan Mey­ers
illus­trat­ed by Mar­la Frazee
Clar­i­on Books, 2004

With an irre­sistible rhyming text and delight­ful­ly endear­ing illus­tra­tions, here is an exu­ber­ant cel­e­bra­tion of play­ing, sleep­ing, crawl­ing, and of course, very noisy babies doing all the won­der­ful things babies do best. Every day, every­where, babies are born. They’re kissed and dressed and rocked and fed … and com­plete­ly adored by the fam­i­lies who love them.

First Laugh, Wel­come Baby!
writ­ten by Rose Tahe and Nan­cy Bo Flood
illus­trat­ed by Jonathan Nel­son
Charles­bridge, 2018

In Nava­jo fam­i­lies, the first per­son to make a new baby laugh hosts the child’s First Laugh Cer­e­mo­ny. Who will earn the hon­or in this story?

The First Laugh Cer­e­mo­ny is a cel­e­bra­tion held to wel­come a new mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty. As every­one — from Baby’s nima (mom) to nadi (big sis­ter) to cheii (grand­fa­ther) — tries to elic­it the joy­ous sound from Baby, read­ers are intro­duced to details about Nava­jo life and the Nava­jo names for fam­i­ly mem­bers. Back mat­ter includes infor­ma­tion about oth­er cul­tur­al cer­e­monies that wel­come new babies and chil­dren, includ­ing man yue cel­e­bra­tion (Chi­na), san­skaras (Hin­du), and aquiqa (Mus­lim).

Freight Train
Don­ald Crews
Green­wil­low Books, 1996

In sim­ple, pow­er­ful words and vibrant illus­tra­tions, Don­ald Crews evokes the rolling wheels of that child­hood favorite: a train. This Calde­cott Hon­or Book fea­tures bright col­ors and bold shapes. Even a child not lucky enough to have count­ed freight cars will feel he or she has watched a freight train pass­ing after read­ing Freight Train. Red caboose at the back, orange tank car, green cat­tle car, pur­ple box car, black ten­der, and a black steam engine … freight train.

Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Good Night, Goril­la
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Peg­gy Rath­mann
G.P. Put­nam’s Sons, 1996

Good night, Goril­la.
Good night, Elephant.

It’s bed­time at the zoo, and all the ani­mals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who’s that short, fur­ry guy with the key in his hand and the mis­chie­vous grin?

Good night, Giraffe.
Good night, Hyena.

Sneak along behind the zookeep­er’s back, and see who gets the last laugh in this riotous good-night romp.

Also avail­able in Span­ish as Buenos noches, Gori­la.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Good­night, Moon
writ­ten by Mar­garet Wise Brown
illus­trat­ed by Clement Hurd
Harper­Collins, 1947

In this clas­sic of chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, beloved by gen­er­a­tions of read­ers and lis­ten­ers, the qui­et poet­ry of the words and the gen­tle, lulling illus­tra­tions com­bine to make a per­fect book for the end of the day.

In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a lit­tle bun­ny. “Good­night room, good­night moon.” And to all the famil­iar things in the soft­ly lit room — to the pic­ture of the three lit­tle bears sit­ting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mit­tens and the kit­tens, to every­thing one by one — the lit­tle bun­ny says goodnight.

One of the most beloved books of all time, Good­night Moon is a must for every book­shelf and a time-hon­ored gift for baby show­ers and oth­er spe­cial events.

I Love You Like No Otter

I Love You Like No Otter
writ­ten by Rose Ross­ner
illus­trat­ed by Syd­ney Han­son
Source­books Won­der­land, 2020

There’s no bet­ter way to say “I love you” than with a sweet and heart­felt ani­mal pun book! I Love You Like No Otter com­bines a warm mes­sage of love with beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed ani­mals fam­i­lies will love to read and share togeth­er. From baby show­er gifts to bed­time read alouds all year long, this adorable board book is purr­fect for any­one you love beary much!

I love you like no otter. You tru­ly are the best.

My spe­cial lit­tle squeak­heart, a step above the rest.

I Wish You More

I Wish You More
writ­ten by Amy Krause Rosen­thal
illus­trat­ed by Tom Licht­en­held
Chron­i­cle Books, 2015

From the incom­pa­ra­ble team of author Amy Krouse Rosen­thal and illus­tra­tor Tom Licht­en­held, this exu­ber­ant, inspi­ra­tional book for kids holds more than a sin­gle wish or even three wish­es — it is filled with end­less good wish­es. Wish­es for curios­i­ty and won­der, for friend­ship and strength, laugh­ter and peace.

Whether cel­e­brat­ing life’s joy­ous mile­stones, shar­ing words of encour­age­ment, or observ­ing the won­der of every­day moments, this sweet book is for wish­ers of all ages! I Wish You More is the per­fect grad­u­a­tion gift or baby show­er book as well as an uplift­ing read sure to bring pos­i­tiv­i­ty to all who read it.

In Every Life

In Every Life
Mar­la Frazee
Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schus­ter, 2023

In every life, there is love and loss, hope and joy, won­der and mys­tery. With glow­ing art and spare, pow­er­ful text, Calde­cott Hon­or – win­ning cre­ator Mar­la Frazee cel­e­brates the moments, feel­ings, and expe­ri­ences, both big and small, that make up a life.

Little Blue Truck

Lit­tle Blue Truck
writ­ten by Alice Scher­tle
illus­trat­ed by Jill McEl­mur­ry
Clar­i­on Books, 2008

Beep! Beep! Meet Blue! Filled with truck sounds and ani­mal nois­es, Lit­tle Blue Truck is a rol­lick­ing homage to the pow­er of friend­ship and the rewards of help­ing oth­ers. Lit­tle Blue Truck is a joy­ful cacoph­o­ny of ani­mal and truck sounds that will have young­sters beep­ing and quack­ing — and beg­ging for one more go-round!

Look, There's a Submarine!

Look, There’s a Sub­ma­rine!
Esther Aarts
Nosy Crow, 2018
Look, There’s a Trac­tor!
Look, There’s a Rock­et!
and many more

Each book in this series fol­lows a vehi­cle on its jour­ney across five beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed spreads, with holes in the pages play­ing an inte­gral part in dri­ving the nar­ra­tive. Lit­tle ones will love find­ing the holes with their fin­gers, peek­ing through, and turn­ing the page to see what the holes become. With gen­tle rhyming text encour­ag­ing chil­dren to answer ques­tions, these jour­neys through the ocean and into space will be request­ed time and time again.

Moo, Baa! La La La! by Sandra Boynton

Moo Ba La La La
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by San­dra Boyn­ton
Boyn­ton Book­works, 1982

San­dra Boynton’s wild­ly pop­u­lar book fea­tures her live­ly and spir­it­ed text that intro­duces read­ers to ani­mals and the nois­es they make. A qui­et final spread begs the lit­tle ones and their care­givers to OINK!, SNORT!, QUACK!, and MEOW! in a noisy ani­mal ending.

More More More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams

More More More Said the Baby
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Vera B. Williams
Green­wil­low Books, 1990

A trib­ute to babies and the peo­ple who love them. Here are Lit­tle Guy, Lit­tle Pump­kin, and Lit­tle Bird. Their grownups love them. So will you! For lap time, class­room read­ing, or any­time, and for par­ents, teach­ers, grand­par­ents, and any­one who enjoys chant­i­ng along “more more more” with the babies. A good gift for a preschool library at home or school, and for baby showers.

Never Touch a Dragon!

Nev­er Touch a Drag­on!
writ­ten by Rosie Green­ing
illus­trat­ed by Stu­art Lynch
Make Believe Ideas, 2020
Nev­er Touch a Por­cu­pine!
Nev­er Touch a Shark!
and many more

You must nev­er touch a drag­on … unless it’s in this book! This drag­on-themed touch-and-feel board book is great for chil­dren of all ages and fits per­fect­ly into tiny hands. Kids will love read­ing the sil­ly rhymes that warn of the dan­gers of touch­ing a drag­on – and then ignor­ing the advice!

Noisy Baby Animals

Noisy Baby Ani­mals
writ­ten by Patri­cia Hager­ty
Tiger Tales, 2020
many oth­er books in this series

Touch, feel, and hear the baby ani­mals on every page of this inter­ac­tive, stur­dy board book, packed with appeal­ing pho­tographs, tac­tile tex­tures, and adorable baby ani­mal sounds. Press the touch-and-feels to hear five real­is­tic baby ani­mal sounds, with a but­ton on the last page to play all five sounds again!

On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier

On the Day You Were Born
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Debra Frasi­er
Har­court, 1991

A beloved clas­sic for more than twen­ty years, in sim­ple words and radi­ant col­lages, Debra Frasi­er cel­e­brates the earth and extends an exu­ber­ant wel­come to each mem­ber of our human fam­i­ly. Accom­pa­nied by a glos­sary explain­ing such nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­na as grav­i­ty, tides, and migra­tion, this unfor­get­table book affirms the spe­cial place each child holds in the world. Many fam­i­lies read it aloud at annu­al birth­day celebrations.

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

pat the bun­ny
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Dorothy Kun­hardt
Ran­dom House, 1940

For gen­er­a­tions, with more than sev­en mil­lion copies sold, Pat the Bun­ny has been cre­at­ing spe­cial first-time moments between par­ents and their chil­dren. One of the best-sell­ing children’s books of all time, this clas­sic touch-and-feel book offers babies a play­ful and engag­ing experience.

Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden

Peek‑a Who?
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Nina Laden
Chron­i­cle Books, 2000
also Peek-a-Zoo and Peek-a-Choo-Choo

Nina Laden’s sim­ple rhyming text and peek-a-boo cutouts take the most loved baby and tod­dler game and puts it in chil­dren’s book form! Bright, engag­ing illus­tra­tions and the antic­i­pa­tion of what’s hid­ing on the next page, peek­ing through the die-cut win­dows, will keep lit­tle ones guess­ing and gig­gling all the way to the sur­prise ending.

Peekaboo House by Camilla Reid and Ingela P. Arrhenius

Peek­a­boo: House
writ­ten by Camil­la Reid
illus­trat­ed by Ingela P. Arrhe­nius
Can­dlewick Press, 2022

The illustrator’s unmis­tak­able, enchant­i­ng art­work, com­bined with an inge­nious slid­er mech­a­nism on every page, make this an irre­sistible board book for tod­dlers. Young chil­dren will be cap­ti­vat­ed by the peek­a­boo con­cept as they look for house­hold items and — with some­thing to push, pull, or turn on every spread — they won’t be able to put it down!

The Rabbit Listneed by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rab­bit Lis­tened
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Cori Doer­rfeld
Dial Books, 2018

When some­thing sad hap­pens, Tay­lor does­n’t know where to turn. All the ani­mals are sure they have the answer. The chick­en wants to talk it out, but Tay­lor does­n’t feel like chat­ting. The bear thinks Tay­lor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the ani­mals try to tell Tay­lor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer com­fort. Then the rab­bit arrives. All the rab­bit does is lis­ten … which is just what Tay­lor needs.

Stanley's Toolbox by William Bee

Stan­ley’s Tool­box
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by William Bee
Peachtree, 2020
also Stan­ley’s Paint­box and Stan­ley’s Fire Engine and many more

An ear­ly intro­duc­tion to tools com­mon­ly found at home―everything from a drill, ham­mer, and nails to a sander and even a glue gun. Each tool is shown in action with bold col­or­ful illus­tra­tions in the con­text of a sweet, sim­ple sto­ry about a tree­house refresh, and the sur­prise end­ing will have read­ers exclaim­ing “Aww!” Vivid end­pa­pers will delight young read­ers who want to explore and iden­ti­fy dif­fer­ent tools.

Time for Bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer

Time for Bed
writ­ten by Mem Fox
illus­trat­ed by Jane Dyer
Clar­i­on Books, 1993

Dark­ness is falling every­where and lit­tle ones are get­ting sleepy, feel­ing cozy, and being tucked in. It’s time for a wide yawn, a big hug, and a snug­gle under the cov­ers – sleep tight! Work­ing beau­ti­ful­ly with the sooth­ing­ly repet­i­tive text, each paint­ing con­veys a warm feel­ing of safe­ty and affection.

Touch Think Learn Opposites by Xavier Deneux

Touch Think Learn: Oppo­sites
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Xavier Deneux
Touch Think Learn: Col­ors
Touch Think Learn: Shapes and oth­ers

Com­bin­ing scooped-out die-cuts with raised, shaped ele­ments, each book is designed to offer the youngest learn­ers an irre­sistible oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore their uni­verse in a hands-on, mul­ti­sen­so­ry way. See­ing the image, trac­ing its shape, say­ing its name: these modes of per­cep­tion com­bine in a dynam­ic way to stim­u­late under­stand­ing of essen­tial con­cepts. Expe­ri­ence green both in the beau­ty of a raised leaf’s sur­face as well as in the cater­pil­lar that munch­es on the leaf’s edge. Cel­e­brate a moon ris­ing into the night, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly a sun sets deep into the mir­ror­ing page.

Tummy Time! by Mama Makes Books

Tum­my Time! A high-con­trast book with mir­ror for babies
cre­at­ed by Mama Makes Books
Lit­tle Comet, 2022

The per­fect gift for new­born babies! “Tum­my time — plac­ing a baby on his or her stom­ach only while awake and super­vised — can help your baby devel­op strong neck and shoul­der mus­cles, and pro­mote motor skills.” — Mayo Clin­ic; And this book will keep babies’ brains busy, too, while their mus­cles are hard at work. The high-con­trast images on one side are mes­mer­iz­ing because, although young babies’ vision is blur­ry, they can see bold pat­terns with sharp light-dark con­trast and sat­u­rat­ed col­or. Babies are also hard-wired to rec­og­nize faces, so there are baby pho­tos on the oth­er side to delight your baby, and an embed­ded mir­ror — because babies love look­ing at them­selves! The book can be spread out in front of them, or read like a book so you can enjoy read­ing time together.

Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Eric Car­le
World Pub­lish­ing, 1969

Car­le’s clas­sic tale of a vora­cious cater­pil­lar who eats his way through the days of the week and then changes into a eau­ti­ful but­ter­fly has been reis­sued in a sump­tu­ous twen­ty-fifth anniver­sary edi­tion with a shiny, sil­ver-coat­ed cov­er and won­der­ful­ly thick, durably pages. (The Horn Book)

Walk On! by Marla Frazee

Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Mar­la Frazee
Clar­i­on Books, 2006

Try­ing some­thing new is nev­er easy. Like walk­ing, for instance. But aren’t you sick of sit­ting on your bot­tom day in and day out? Has­n’t lying around all the time become a lit­tle bit bor­ing? This handy guide, both prac­ti­cal and inspi­ra­tional, is here to help. With use­ful tips, com­mon pit­falls, and Mar­la Frazee’s adorable illus­tra­tions, this book is per­fect for any­one – from a baby to a grad­u­ate to a grown-up – who’s about to take a scary first step.

Welcome Precious by Nikki Grimes and Bryan Collier

Wel­come, Pre­cious
writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes
illus­trat­ed by Bryan Col­lier
Orchard Books, 2008

Wel­come to the warm cir­cle of your dad­dy’s arms, the slip­pery kiss­es of your gid­dy grand­moth­er, and the cool tick­le of Mom­my’s nose rub­bing against your bel­ly button.“Lulling, poet­ic text and cap­ti­vat­ing illus­tra­tions fea­ture an African Amer­i­can fam­i­ly wel­com­ing a new baby to the won­ders of the world: from choco­late fudge to moonlight.

Where is Little Fish? by Lucy Cousins

Where is Lit­tle Fish?
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Lucy Cousins
Can­dlewick Press, 2018

Is that Lit­tle Fish hid­ing behind the yel­low coral? No, it’s stripy fish! How about inside the shell? That’s shelly fish, of course! Open up the trea­sure chest (hi, crab!) and peek behind the red coral (so that’s where curly whirly and twisty twirly went off to!). Chil­dren will leave no oys­ter shell uncracked and no clump of sea­weed unex­plored in their search for this bright and spright­ly new friend.

Where's the Ladybug? by Ingela P. Arrhenius

Where’s the Lady­bug?
Ingela P. Arrhe­nius
Can­dlewick Press, 2017
Where’s the Giraffe? and Where’s the Nar­whal?
and Where’s the Astro­naut? and many more

Five beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed spreads show a series of friend­ly bugs hid­ing behind bright felt flaps. And there’s a mir­ror on the final page! A per­fect book to share with very lit­tle ones.

The World and Everything In It by Kevin Henkes

The World and Every­thing In It
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Kevin Henkes
Green­wil­low Books, 2023

In the world, there are lit­tle ani­mals, tiny flow­ers, and things so small you can’t see them. In the world, there are giant waves, a large sun, and things so big you can’t wrap your hands around them. There are big things and lit­tle things in the world. And every­thing in between — includ­ing you!

Yummy Yucky

Yum­my YUCKY
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Leslie Patri­cel­li
Can­dlewick Press, 2003
Qui­et LOUD
BIG Lit­tle and more

Spaghet­ti is yum­my, but worms — and blue crayons, and sand, and oth­er things too gross to men­tion — are def­i­nite­ly yucky when tast­ed. Ami­ably illus­trat­ed in a bright, graph­ic style, Yum­my YUCKY stars an oblig­ing, bald, and very expres­sive tod­dler who acts out each pair of oppo­sites with com­i­cal­ly dra­mat­ic effect.

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8 months ago

The board book I’ve giv­en to new­borns most often is You Are Spe­cial by Max Luca­do. I also like to give All the Places to Love by Patri­cia MacLach­lan, with won­der­ful illus­tra­tions by Mike Wim­mer. (Some­times I think the lat­ter it’s more a gift for the par­ents — but kids will grow into it.)