There’s not a baby in the land who doesn’t give a beaming smile when they catch sight of their face in the mirror. This isn’t narcissism – your child will give an equally gummy grin when they spy another small person in close proximity. Psychologists aren’t sure where the fascination springs from, other than a joy in finding a kindred spirit.
Sharing stories about babies not only stimulates this comfort in the familiar but lets your little one learn more about their own place in the world and their sometimes confused feelings. These books are also good for reinforcing how much their family loves them, as well as reassuring new or soon-to-be siblings about a new arrival and what to expect from this tiny new person in their life.
With Baby Bookworm due to become a big brother very soon, we’ve been reading A LOT of books about babies – so here are a few of his favourites…
1. Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. £6.99 (board book), Penguin
This Ahlberg classic follows a baby through his day, from waking up and playing at the park to bathtime and bed, using repetitive rhyming language and a clever peephole device in the pages.
It’s hugely reassuring for children, there’s loads to spot in Janet’s characteristically detailed drawings and the 1940s wartime backdrop is a moving touch that parents will appreciate, particularly when the father kisses the baby goodnight while dressed in his military uniform.
2. So Much! by Trish Campbell and Helen Oxenbury. £6.99 (paperback) Walker
The love and joy that a baby brings to a family is a precious thing, with this fascinating little person becoming a focal point for loved ones. This award-winning and uplifting story captures this sense of adoration perfectly.
As a cast of relatives arrive ready for a surprise party, each one expresses their affect for the child in different ways – hugs, play fights, kisses, games and stories.
The language is rich, descriptive and repetitive, with Helen Oxenbury’s bright gouache pictures capturing their energy perfectly. While the book reflects Trish Cooke’s Afro-Caribbean heritage, the message is universal – and just a joy to share.
3. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury. £5.99 (board book), Walker
Babies love to look at other babies and when they do, all they see is someone just like them. The idea that we may come from different places but are all the same inside – and each very precious to our parents – is at the heart of this sweet first book, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Mem Fox’s gentle rhyming poem does not weary after multiple readings, while your little one will be charmed by the smiling faces of the global cast of children, lovingly illustrated by Helen Oxenbury of We’re Going On A Bear Hunt fame.
4. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illustrated by Marla Frazee. £5.99 (board book), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This ode to love and acceptance was a gift when Baby Bookworm was born and a book that every parent should read to their child. Using the repetitive refrain of “every day, everywhere”, author Susan Meyers gently guides us through the ways in which babies grow and develop from birth to first birthday with the help of those around them.
The cast is wide and diverse, with lovely detailed artwork by Marla Frazee, but the essential and reassuring message is that all babies are the same at heart – and all special. Baby Bookworm loves it so much, he can repeat most of the words and it made his top 10 books of baby’s second year.
5. Baby Goes To Market by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. £6.99 (board book), Walker
When Mama takes Baby to the crowded market to do her shopping, the sellers can’t resist sharing their goods with the cheeky little one. Before Mama knows it, her basket is full of bananas and biscuits – with Baby having sampled everything first, of course.
There’s a mischievous element to this simple tale that babies and toddlers will really enjoy, not to mention the repetitive text, counting and food stuffs to identify. It’s also makes a refreshing change by being set in an authentic African community.
6. The New Baby by Lisa Stickley. £6.99 (paperback), Pavilion
A fresh take on the tried-and-tested topic of the arrival of new sibling, telling the story of Albert’s first year in the world, as observed by big sister Edith. Author-illustrator Lisa Stickley cleverly charts the new baby’s development and the growth of their relationship month-by-month, with plenty of comedic noises, smelly poos and sweet moments.
It’s charming and true-to-life, using humour (and lots of mentions of windypops) as a device to ease the younger reader’s worries about the change ahead. We also love the quirky collage and doodle artwork, which has a lovely childlike quality.
Lisa Stickley reveals her favourite five children’s books
7. King Baby by Kate Beaton. £6.99 (paperback), Walker
The premise of this knowing tale will raise a wry smile for parents while giving your own King or Queen Baby a good chuckle too. The long-awaited ‘king’ is born and a long line of ‘subjects’ come to worship at his feet, while he generously rewards them with gurgles and kisses.
Meanwhile, his devoted but exhausted ‘servants’ run around, trying to cater to his every whim, while he quietly plots to do away with their services. Kate Beaton’s cartoonish drawings are fabulously funny and we love the King’s internal monologue – it’s just made for reading aloud in a grand voice.
8. It’s A Little Baby by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb. £6.99 (board book), Macmillan
Julia Donaldson was inspired to write this smile-inducing lift-the-flap book after seeing how much her own granddaughter enjoyed playing peekaboo, clapping, pointing, waving and dancing.
On each of the five spreads, there is a little baby hiding ready for your own child to discover and an invitation to join in with the everyday actions they love. The repetitive, rhyming text is simple to follow and has an accompanying song written by Julia, should you fancy exercising your vocal chords at bedtime. The delicate illustrations by Rebecca Cobb have an endearing warmth to them, too.
9. Baby’s Very First Black and White Book: Babies. £4.99 (board book), Usborne
With its simple line drawings of smiling faces and high-contrast black and white artwork, this board book is specifically designed to appeal to the very youngest bookworms.
Each page shows a baby in a familiar mood or action, such as cuddling, sleeping or eating, with pops of bright colour amid the monochrome to help your child differentiate shades as their eyesight develops.
There are bold patterned backgrounds too, all of which will catch the attention of your own baby, while the padded cover, compact size and chunky pages make it lots of fun for them to handle.
10. What’s In Your Tummy, Mummy? by Sam Lloyd. £6.99 (paperback), Pavilion
The idea of a new baby growing inside Mummy’s tummy is transformed from a hard-to-grasp concept to a warm and witty rhyme by author-illustrator Sam Lloyd. As her bump gets bigger from page to page, the little boy ponders what could be inside. Is it a flea, a chimpanzee or even a dinosaur?
Your child will love lifting the flaps to see the comical guesses hidden under Mummy’s dress, culminating in a celebratory pop-up reveal of the new arrival. It’s celebratory and joyful – exactly how the birth of a sibling should be.
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