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We might not remember our first books – read aloud by parents who really, really hoped they'd send us off to sleep – but they definitely had a big impact on our development. Here's our pick of the best baby books for little ones, full of gorgeous illustrations and sensory fun.
1. The Baby's Catalogue by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
“One of the best books ever for this age – every child I have seen with it loves it.”
A classic, sturdy board book from the famous Janet and Allan Ahlberg, The Baby's Catalogue is full of vibrant scenes for your baby to enjoy. Open the book at any page and make up your own story about what could be happening.
2. Busy Town by Rebecca Finn
“All the Busy books are great. They're lift-the-flap but very sturdy – perfect for inquisitive babies.”
An interactive baby book, the tabs on each page can be pushed, turned and pulled to bring the 'Busy Town' to life. Ride the bus, feed the ducks and pop to the shops with rhyming text and bright illustrations.
3. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
“A fantastic bedtime story about a little rabbit who goes around his room saying goodnight to everything. It's lovely and gentle, I used to end up reciting it to my little boy when he woke up in the night – worked a treat.”
Another classic bedtime book for babies, Goodnight Moon is a gentle, rhythmic story perfect for lulling your little one to sleep (or for trying to, at least).
4. Poppy and Sam's Animal Hide and Seek by Jenny Tyler and Stephen Cartwright
“I'd really recommend the Poppy and Sam books with flaps.”
Great if you're looking for an interactive baby book, Apple Tree Farm has flaps to lift and textures to feel on each page. It'll help your child learn to count, too.
5. Oh Dear! by Rod Campbell
“A lift-the-flap book where Buster has to look round the farm until he finds the eggs. My children are 10 and seven now but I could probably still recite this off by heart!”
Created by the author of Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell, Oh Dear! is another popular sensory book. Lift the flap as you turn the pages and follow main character Buster all around the farm.
6. Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins
“An absolute classic and lovely to look at.”
Rosie the hen is walking around the farm – little does she know, she's followed by a fox. Unfortunately for the clumsy fox, he encounters calamity after calamity. Read it with your baby for shrieks of laughter.
7. Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
“The Ahlbergs' books are the best by a mile.”
Perfect for inquisitive readers, there's a poem on each page of this classic baby book, hinting about what's hiding in the picture. Familiar nursery rhyme characters like the Three Bears, Tom Thumb, and Baby Bunting make an appearance.
8. In The Night Garden series
“My daughter loved the In The Night Garden books.”
Most of us are familiar with the slightly surreal TV show, but who knew there were brightly coloured baby books to accompany it? If your child can't get enough of Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy, these sturdy books will go down a treat.
9. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
“The Gruffalo is a little longer than you'd usually pick for a baby, but they just love the rhythm of it.”
Great fun to read aloud, venture into the deep, dark wood and find out what happens when a little mouse meets an owl, a snake, and – of course – a hungry Gruffalo. Here, the classic story is reworked into a board book for the littlest of readers.
10. That's Not My Monkey by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells
“We've got six of the That's Not My… series of books and my daughter loves every single one of them. It's her first choice every storytime and she's learnt how to describe the textures of many items because of it.”
Another touch-and-feel picture book, your baby can explore different textures with every page, as well as trying to spot the little white mouse.
11. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
“This is a brilliant book. So simple but so effective. Counting, colours and words – it's all in there. A definite classic.”
Everyone's heard of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and probably eaten a few hundred Caterpillar cakes too), and for good reason. Vivid and colourful, the pages' holes make for a fun, sensory reading experience.
12. Miffy The Artist by Dick Bruna
“Miffy is super for the words and illustrations.”
It's hard not to have a soft spot for Miffy the bunny. In this colourful lift-the-flap book, Miffy takes inspiration from an art gallery and decides to become her very own Picasso.
13. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson
“Owl Babies is lovely.”
A gentle bedtime story, Owl Babies features three owls who wonder when their Mummy will come home (which she does, of course). You'll return again and again for the timeless illustrations.
14. Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar
“Not a touchy-feely book, but it's lasted since my son was one and it's still going strong. It's a rhyming book too, which seems to keep their interest from a very young age.”
'There once was a baby who lived in a shoe, who had learned how to say “How do you do?”' A solid favourite among parents, Shoe Baby is charming and (ever so slightly) off the wall.
15. Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood
“Both of mine liked a book called Ten Little Fish, wherein the 10 fish gradually dwindle to one, who falls in love with another fish, and then they have babies and produce another 10 little fish.”
If learning to count is on the cards, this undersea adventure will help. The rhyming text will help readers go from one to 10 and back again, accompanied by vivid, beautifully illustrated pages.
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