Many new parents are asking that baby shower guests bring a book instead of a card. But how many copies of Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny does one person need? Here are some suggestions that will help you choose books that will engage newborn babies, as well as their caregivers.
Tip #1: Bring a Board Book
Many people gift new parents with the picture books they grew up loving. However, to set yourself apart, bring a board book. These are smaller books printed on heavier, cardboard-like pages. They are good for babies because little ones can grab at them and chew the pages, and not tear the book apart. Many even have rounded edges to prevent baby from hurting themselves.
The best board books, however, are not picture books simply printed on heavier paper. Children under three often do not have the attention span for a long work. Select board books with short, simple text. Babies, after all, do not really read the whole book along with their caregivers, but usually flip the pages out of order and look at the pictures.
Board Book Recommendations
Little kids love dinosaurs! And Boynton’s books are perennially popular due to their simple, rhyming text and silly premises!
Deneux’s books feature raised images so little ones can learn concepts by using their sense of touch. Look for other books on shapes, letters, numbers, animals, and opposites!
This book features flaps so little ones can engage interactively with the story and develop fine motor skills. It will also intrigue babies who like books about other babies.
Matheson writes lovely interactive books that ask readers to wiggle their fingers, shake the book and more, to make things happen in the text. This one also teaches the life cycle of a seed.
Tip #2: Go High Contrast
High contrast books are often recommended for newborns because their eyesight is still developing. Books in black-and-white with big, bold illustrations will be easier for them to see and encourage them to engage more with the book.
Some caregivers may steer away from high contrast titles because they do not know what to do with a book that simply shows a baby bottle with the word “bottle.” Where is the story, they may wonder. However, newborns are not really reading the book, so it’s okay to point at the picture with baby and discuss it. Caregivers can ask questions like, “What do you see?” “How many butterflies are there?” “What sound does the cat make?” “Does the cow look sad? Do you ever feel sad?” High contrast books can be very engaging if the right questions are asked.
High Contrast Board Book Recommendations
This favorite high contrast book pairs simple illustrations with their names. It is most notable for its accordion-style format, which allows caregivers to stand it up so baby can view it. This makes it perfect for tummy time!
This fun title pairs high contrast images with a simple rhyming text. The cover says that red is the next color babies see after black and white, which is how the creators chose the color scheme.
This high contrast book features bold illustrations for 10 different kinds of bugs. Baby will learn about nature while parents will enjoy the splash of color provided by the foil inserts. Also look for Hello, Animals by the same team.
Tip #3 Be Interactive
Everyone loves interactive books! They are also ideal for caregivers not yet sure how to ask questions or get their little ones to engage with a book. Look for titles that ask the reader to do things like shake the book, blow a kiss, or tap the pages. Or select titles that allow little ones to explore the book in a tactile way, perhaps learning about “smooth” and “rough” textures or tracing shapes with their fingers. Or choose a lift-the-flap book, which can be engaging while helping to develop fine motor skills.
Interactive Board Book Recommendations
This lift-the-flap book features a child who writes to the zoo asking for a pet. But the zoo keeps sending completely inappropriate animal choices! Will he ever find his perfect pet? Young readers will enjoy lifting the flaps and guessing the animals.
This interactive story is available as a picture book or a board book. It teaches readers the seasons by following a tree though spring, summer, winter, and fall, asking readers to tap the tree, shake it, and even blow a breeze. The simple illustrations will delight readers young and old.
The Usborn Touchy-Feely books feature a wide range of animals from reindeer to lions to kittens. Each page has a traceable texture so readers can learn concepts like soft, smooth, squishy, and shiny.
Readers can learn about all sorts of animals from koalas to dragons with the baby animal puppet series. The gentle stories typically follow each animal through the day until they safely snuggle up for bed. Little ones will adore the finger puppets placed inside each book.
Tip # 4: Focus on Concepts
Select a book that will teach little ones important concepts in a fun, engaging way! You can focus on colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Or why not try opposites, emotions, seasons, or the weather? There is a lot to learn when you are brand new to the world, but there are plenty of innovative titles to help caregivers start teaching.
Concept Board Book Recommendations
This unusual book uses die cut images so readers can hold the book up to the light and look at all the colors. The text is a bit longer and abstract, so caregivers might want to adapt it when reading.
Deneux has an entire series of sensory books that allow little ones to explore concepts like shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. Each book has raised surfaces so young readers can learn by tracing.
Fans of Olivia the Pig will delight in this simple board book. Each spread illustrates opposite concepts such as “quiet” and “loud,” all with Falconer’s trademark humor.
Learn about different colors and how rainbows are made with this fun ribbon book! Turn the page to add a new color ribbon until you end with a full rainbow! The text is a bit long, so caregivers may want to adapt it for the littlest readers.
Tip #5: Look at Faces
Babies supposedly like to look at pictures of other babies. Find some books that focus on faces so baby can start to learn how to recognize emotions. Also try to make sure you are picking up titles that feature diverse infants! These books may seem difficult to read for caregivers used to following a story, but, with practice, adults will figure out how to ask questions and model the emotions.
Board Book Recommendations with Baby Faces
This concept book focuses on five different emotions. It asks baby to make the same face depicted, then to find the “happy” or “sad” baby. It also includes a mirror for practice!
This is a simple title that includes photographs of babies from around the world!
The book is pretty much what it says– a book full of photos of baby faces
Another board book with photographs of different babies showing different emotions.
Tip #5: Rhyme, Repeat, and Sing
Rhyming, repetition, and singing help baby learn language skills. Try searching out books that rhyme or have a refrain or predictable catchword, as well as titles than can be sung to familiar children’s tunes. Kids also tend to like silly books, so any titles that have underwear in them, for example, are sure to be a hit.
Board Books That Rhyme and Repeat
Boynton’s books are widely beloved by children and their caregivers. Most of them rhyme and are just a little bit silly. This one also has the bonus of introducing some farm animals. Barnyard Dance is another Boynton favorite, featuring square dancing animals.
Kubler has a line of board books based on classic children’s songs. A few of them, however, are illustrated so that little ones can learn some related sign language along with the song!
This book rhymes, but also features die cut illustrations that allow little ones to guess the upcoming animals. Interactive books are always sure to please!
Tip #6: Search Out Diversity
It’s important for little ones to be exposed to books with all kinds of people, especially people who may be different from them. So make sure you are selecting books that represent diversity.
Diverse Board Book Recommendations
This simple book is partly bilingual, repeating the phrase “Besos!” throughout as the child asks for kisses from mami and papi.
Celebrate a brown baby’s adorable toes in this sweet rhyming text. It also helps babies begin to learn parts of the body. Also look for Whose Knees Are These?
Intrater’s Baby Faces board book series focuses on everyday moments like bath time or peekaboo to engage little ones. The photographs typically feature a diverse array of babies. Also check out Smile!
Tip #7: Be Wary of Board Books Marketed to Adults
Many board boards are marketed more towards adults than children. Board books are generally read to children from 1-3, so you will find titles that include more text and are more complicated than others. However, some really trendy titles reference scientific concepts, books, or historical moments that little ones have no familiarity with, so they may not really be getting much out of them. Make sure the titles you are choosing are age-appropriate and geared towards baby, not their caregivers.