I am so excited to write this post! I’m always on the hunt for new books to share at storytime, especially babytime. This post includes old books and new books, but they’ve all served me well in a baby storytime setting. Make sure to check out the other posts in our baby storytime series too:
- Welcoming Activities
- Favourite Fingerplays and Tickles
- Favourite Lap Bounces
- Focus on Newborns
- Favourite Dancing Songs
- Using Scarves and Egg Shakers with Babies
- Using a Parachute with Babies
- Putting it All Together: A Baby Storytime Program
It is completely possible to do a baby storytime without reading a single book. But I like to read one book at each session as a way to promote the library’s collection, model to caregivers dialogic reading, and talk to caregivers about how to choose books for babies. The Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Zero to Three have great talking points to share with caregivers that can help them feel confident and comfortable selecting books and reading to their babies. Now on to the books!
1. A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
I’m in love with everything Il Sung Na writes and illustrates. This book has big, bright illustrations of animal babies with short descriptive sentences. The illustrations have a touch of humour and provide ample opportunities to model asking questions and talking about what we see.
This book made my 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books list and it’s still a babytime favourite. When I read this book I encourage caregivers to mimic the mama elephant, and we talk about using books as part of a bedtime routine.
If you loved O’Connell’s book, Baby Parade, then you have to get this new release! When I read it in storytime we practiced the skill of clapping. I love that it includes a diverse cast of babies and is filled with different shapes. In addition to clapping you can encourage caregivers to draw the shapes on baby’s hands.
4. Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr; illustrated by Teagan White
I learned about this book from my colleague Jane, and her assessment is spot on. The illustrations are gorgeous, and when I used this book in babytime we made the animal noises featured on each page as a way to make it interactive. I love sharing books that help caregivers develop a loving relationship with baby, and this one hits the mark.
5. Clip Clop by Nicola Smee
This book is traditionally used in a toddler or preschool storytime, but I simply ask caregivers to plop baby on their lap and we clip clop away. Babies get to experience bouncing while we say the refrain together, and they can be dipped to the side when the animals fall off. It’s a great way to show caregivers how to adapt picture books to meet their baby’s developmental stage.
6. Everything by Emma Dodd
This book is a bit small, so I would recommend it for small groups. It starts with the premise, “which part do I love the best?” and precedes to go through different body parts. A great chance for caregivers to identify the parts of baby’s face. It’s told in sweet rhyming sentences that flow beautifully.
7. Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli
An old standby for me. Because there’s basically only one word in this book, caregivers can read it with you. We practice bouncing babies very slowly, and then faster and faster as we read. I love when caregivers realize the different animals are actually the dad – always a delight!
8. Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla; illustrated by Amy Cordova
I wish this book were bigger, but it still doesn’t stop me from sharing it in babytime. The rhythm of the text mimics a fiesta and I chant the words rather than say them. A beautiful introduction to Latino culture that encourages singing, dancing, and celebration.
9. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
It’s Eric Carle at his best. Repetition, movement, and bright, colourful pictures. When I read the refrain, “Can you?” I ask caregivers to help their baby make the actions in the book. A great introduction to the “I can do it!” attitude their babies will soon sport as toddlers.
10. Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonnell
Another book to bounce to! I think it might be based off of the song, “This is the Way the Ladies Ride.” As I read this book, we practice bouncing babies to different rhythms and at different speeds. I love how big McDonnell’s books are too – the images really travel. Great use of repetition and sounds.
11. Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson; illustrated by John-Francis Bourke
Babies love looking at pictures of other babies. This book features a diverse cast of little ones using their hands to clap, say hello, and touch things. Caregivers can model how to do these things as we read. It’s also a great segue to talking about the skill of pinching and grasping which helps develop hand and finger muscles they will need later when they learn to write.
12. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
I love singing this book and having caregivers tickle babies based on the different parts of the body the child paints. Most of the time I can get the adults to sing with me. I’d love to buy a set of giant paintbrushes and let the babies play with them after reading this book.
13. I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy
So many good babytime books by Mary Murphy! Make sure to also check out A Kiss Like This, Say Hello Like This!, and I Like it When. I chose to focus on this one because I can talk to caregivers about choosing books for newborns with graphic black-and-white illustrations that are good for developing eyesight. We also get to give lots of kisses!
14. If You’re Happy and You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola
There are so many books to sing – seriously, check out our board full of them! This one stands out to me because the pages are nice and big, and it has actions like clap your hands, flap your wings, beat your chest, and blink your eyes. I like to model to caregivers how to take a familiar song and change it up.
15. Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas
A toddler classic can easily be turned into a babytime gem. Just have the caregivers wiggle, jump, and dance with their babies! I love showing adults that kid’s books can be fun and silly, and Jan Thomas does that the best. I have never not gotten some laughs after reading this book in babytime.
16. Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
I love reading this book in babytime because it’s got such great rhythm. Because it’s a longer book, I’d use it at the beginning of storytime. The entire family gets involved in the singing and dancing which is a wonderful reflection of community.
17. Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
This book is so much fun to use with babies! On the pages that say, “Jump!” all the caregivers lift baby into the air and say it with me. If you’ve got some older babies in the crowd, you can encourage them to practice jumping themselves and point out the sense of accomplishment that comes even if they don’t clear the ground.
18. Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
This new release would work great for babies or toddlers. Simple sentences lead caregivers in interacting with their babies. You can even listen to a song version. I love the bright, colourful pictures.
19. Overboard! by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Sam Williams
This book hits home because many caregivers have experienced the “drop/throw object repeatedly on the floor” game that babies and toddlers love to play. When I read it at storytime I have the caregivers hold baby in their lap. When we say “overboard!” we dip babies to the side as if they are the ones falling out.
20. Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora
I pass out scarves before reading this book. Then we play peekaboo with the babies as we read, mimicking the surprise of the child in the book. I tell caregivers that peekaboo games are easy to recreate with blankets or washcloths at home. Isadora has a companion book called Peekaboo Morning that’s just as good.
21. Peek-a-Moo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti; illustrated by Stephanie Peterson
Another favourite peekaboo book. You can use scarves with this one too, but the early literacy tip I share is about animal sounds. Even though they aren’t real words they still help babies learn the sounds of our language. All the caregivers help me out with the sounds when I read this one. Cimarusti has a whole series – Peek-a-Pet!, Peek-a-Choo-Choo!, Peek-a-Zoo!, Peek-a-Bloom!, and Peek-a-Booo!.
22. Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz
This entire post could be made of Karen Katz books, but this one is one of my favourites. You get to count, caregivers get to tickle babies all over, and the illustrations are super cute. My other favourite Katz books for babytime are The Babies on the Bus and Counting Kisses.
23. The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
It’s O’Connell’s second appearance on the list! I love reading this one in babytime because of the repetition. I’ll say the first part – “The baby goes beep” and then we all say the second part together, “The baby goes beep, beep, beep, beep.” The vocabulary is great too – boom, flip, splash, smooch.
24. Trains Go by Steve Light
This big board book is perfect for introducing new sounds to babies. Each vehicle is given a sound that I have the caregivers say with me. I like that the sounds aren’t ones I’d think of myself. For example, the diesel train goes “zooosh, zooosh, zooosh.” Because it’s a board book I found caregivers much more likely to take it home with them after storytime. There’s a whole bunch in this series like Trucks Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Diggers Go.
25. We’ve All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin; illustrated by Randy Cecil
Like Carle’s From Head to Toe, this book has an interactive question on each page that encourages caregivers to play with their babies. The rhymes flow well and the images are bright and cheery. Lots of room for talking about the pictures if caregivers want to spend more time with the book after storytime.
What are your favourite books to read in baby storytime? Let me know in the comments!