*Updated September 2021*
There are literally thousands of books for babies. But how is a parent to decide which are the best books to read to babies?
And, why is it important to read to a baby?
If you want to know the answer to this question click here!
The books selected were chosen because they are great for language development.
I’ll be sure to explain why they can be beneficial to learning to speak.
Speaking about language development, I need to make you aware of a pet peeve of mine.
I really do not like books for babies (actually, make that all children) that use incorrect grammar, or are written the way a young child (with a speech impediment) would speak.
The whole point of reading books to your little one is to facilitate language development.
So why read a book that uses incorrect grammar?
It’s also how I feel about speaking to a baby this way.
Now that I have got that off my chest, let’s get started.
There are many types of materials available for baby books since they need to be durable.
You can choose from board books, cloth books, vinyl/plastic books and indestructible books!
The books in the categories I will be discussing will come in a variety of these materials!
For more information about the books mentioned in this article or to purchase one, click on the book title link or image!
Baby’s First Books To Facilitate Speech and Language Development
*This article may contain affiliate links*
Repetitive Phrase Books
I used repetitive phrase books regularly in my language therapy sessions with toddlers who were late talkers.
From a language development perspective, these books are excellent for learning single words and simple phrases.
Until your baby starts vocalizing and using a few words, just read the book making sure to pause, enunciate and use expression where appropriate.
The sentences are typically quite basic and short (if they aren’t, feel free to improvise and shorten them). Remember, a child needs to hear a word hundreds of times before saying the word themselves.
Once your baby is over 12 months, start omitting one of the repeated words and see if they will either fill in the word (it might not sound like the actual word), vocalize or gesture.
A fabulous and well known repetitive phrase book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle.
If you aren’t familiar with it, the lines that repeat are “_____ ______ what do you see?” and “I see a ______ looking at me”.
The blank underlines are for the animal names that are used in the book.
I have underlined “see” and “me” as these are the words you would leave out to see if your little one can fill them in with a word, vocalization or gesture.
When reading a book such as Brown Bear, use gestures with your words whenever possible.
For example, each time you say the word “see”, point to your eyes.
When you say “me” point to yourself.
Some other amazing repetitive line books that are simple include:
Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton) – The repeating word in this book is “oops”. Little ones find this really funny and love filling it in!
Just Like Daddy (Frank Asch) – The repeating phrase in this book is “Just like Daddy”, however you could only omit the word “daddy”.
For more repetitive phrase book ideas click here.
Did you know that the ability to rhyme is a great emergent literacy skill?
And most young children actually enjoying hearing rhymes (including nursery rhymes) and making up silly rhyming words themselves.
Many books for babies include rhymes.
As with the repetitive phrase books, you can start omitting a word here and there (one in a pair of rhyming words, e.g. sun-run) as your baby gets older to see if he will fill in the blank.
Sandra Boynton was one of my children’s favorite authors.
Her books are short, catchy and full of rhymes.
Here are just a few that you will want for your baby’s first library!
Picture Only Books
Books with only pictures and no words are great for babies.
Some picture books simply show the picture of a noun (or a few) on each page, while others are more of a story, but without the words.
Picture books allow the parent/caregiver to make up their own story.
As your baby gets older and starts using words, he can label what he sees, answer questions, or make up his own story!
Here are some examples of picture only books:
First Words Books
These books typically are organized by category (e.g. food, toys, animals, etc.), or color (all read things on a page, all blue items on another, etc.).
Each page contains a few pictures of common items within a particular category.
The written label of the word is often found above or beneath the picture.
First words books are nice to work on pointing and joint attention as well as labeling of objects.
When your baby is a bit older (12 months or more) you can ask questions like “where is the _____?” However, you can do this with just about any book.
I wouldn’t focus too much on these types of books as they fall into the same category as flash cards.
I do not believe a baby or young child truly learns from flash cards.
However, these are still books and will help introduce your little one to concepts such as how to hold a book, turn pages, etc.
So there is nothing wrong with having one or 2 of these types of books in your baby’s collection!
Here are a few examples of First words books:
TotMart Baby Activity Soft Book – this book is made of cloth and has a handle with beads on it.
You can also quite easily make your own First Words book.
I did this with my daughter.
Simply take a few pictures of common objects you have around the house (e.g ball, keys, chair, blanket, bottle/cup, etc.), print them out and put them in a small pocket style photo album (most dollar stores have these).
Let your baby play freely with the book (album). If you are “reading” it together be sure to label each picture!
Personalized books for babies and kids are becoming much more popular now.
There weren’t really many around when my kids were little.
You could buy some books that had pockets where you could insert a picture of your child, but that was about as personal as it would get.
Now there are companies that allow you to make a personalized book for your child.
These kinds of books make great gifts as well!