A pint-sized piece of literary gold is a wonderful gift to give parents to celebrate their new treasure. It’s more thoughtful than a stuffed giraffe and easier than bulky toys or monogrammed crib sheets.
But let’s be honest: half the books written for babies are ticking time bombs for parents. How do you set the stage for this child’s intellectual future while taking mom and dad’s sanity into consideration? Here’s a list of the 10 best baby books that will help instill good values without driving parents mad by the 100th read:
by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Dan Hanna
The Pout Pout Fish is a lovably illustrated, Eeyore-like character who goes around spreading "dreary-wearies all over the place.” The book is full of beautiful vocabulary, fun-to-read quips, and a helpful lesson about how to be in control of your emotions. And it might just remind the occasionally overwhelmed parents that dreary-wearies are not their destiny, either.
by Kevin Lewis, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk
This aquatic adventure has just the right amount of sing-songiness without the tiring repetition. The familiar melody will help make bath time soothing for babies and a splashing fun time for toddlers. It takes children on a toot-tootin tugboat's journey as they learn that things are not always as they appear.
by Kevin Lewis, Illustrated by Daniel Kirk
Another book by the author and illustrator of "Tugga Tugga Tugboat," but impossible to leave off this list. A wonderfully written tale of a truck getting stuck in muck with adorable illustrations that show the helping hands who come along to try to free it. The writing is spunky enough to entertain the littlest ones and, as they grow, they will find the humor in the illustrated plot twists involving feisty gophers.
by Dr. Seuss
Even the beloved Dr. Seuss has some classics that will have parents cringing by the time their baby can crawl. "The Lorax" isn't one of them. This refreshing tale about taking care of our world will have even the most hardened mom or dad taking a second look at their environment through the eyes of their own little next-generation. If parents can conjure up an awesome Lorax voice during story time (I prefer a thick Brooklyn accent) this story will likely become a lifetime favorite of their munchkin, as well.
by Anna Dewdney
You really can’t go wrong with any of the books in the Llama Llama collection. "Red Pajama" is entertaining for parents to read as they get to imitate all of Baby Llama’s dramatic wailing and whining for mama at bedtime, while still reassuring their tot that mama will always be nearby.
by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Save this one for the rhythmically inclined parents. "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" has a fast-paced, upbeat flow that babies love to listen to. This book will follow the child through toddler-dom as they go from loving the cadence to effortlessly learning their letters – big and small.
by Bruce Degan
Jam in Berryland! Poetic, silly, whimsical prose that really brings out the child in the adult reading it. This book translates across all ages and will end up being a tried and true in any household. Parents giggle along with their kids as they read rhymes that are fun to say, sing, read as fast as you can, dance and clap along to… the possibilities are endless. The value of this book is in the lighthearted, joyful simplicity of a boy, a bear, and a canoe full of blueberries.
by Sandra Boynton
There's nothing like basic arithmetic to bore anyone over the age of 10. Sandra Boynton manages to make a numbers-focused book geared toward the youngest of readers that parents are certain to love as much as their child. One lonely hippo creates a chain of events that leads to a huge party full of hippos going berserk. What could be more entertaining?
by Shel Silverstein
This classic story about unconditional love is a foolproof gift that every parent will remember reading as a child themselves and take pride in reading to their own little one. With its simple language and heartbreaking sentiment, parents can't help but appreciate this book's value.
by P.D. Eastman
Don’t write the simplicity of this book off as a snoozer for adults. Stop, Go. Over, Under. This book has enough quirks to keep grown-ups entertained as their little one discovers opposites, colors, sizes, and silly interactions for the first time. It also promises to be one of the first books a child reads on his or her own. What book could be less insanity-inducing than the one you don’t even have to read?
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Danielle E. Owen