It is never too early to read for a baby. Even very young infants enjoy the rhythm of verse and rhyme. If you introduce reading as an enjoyable activity to young children, you will help them develop a lifelong love of books.
For babies whose eyesight is still developing, highly contrasting images and simple pictures with no or very few words are all you need. For older infants and toddlers, sturdy board books with flaps to lift, mirrors, pop-ups, different textures and interactive elements are very popular. Cloth books and bath books are good, as they will get chewed and pulled and thrown around. It makes it easier both for you with baby on your lap, and for the young children themselves, to hold books which are small in size.
It can be hard to get toddlers to sit still, but make sure you do sit down and read together as much as possible. Bedtime story is a great way to help them wind down before going to sleep. If they get impatient, there is no need to read the whole story, just talk about what interests them in the pictures. Young kids enjoy seeing familiar objects and activities in the pictures which they can connect to their own experiences. Sometimes they want the comfort of a familiar book, but even with books they have read before, they will notice new things as their world expands.
Below are recommendations of books for babies and toddlers handpicked by experts. We also have a list of popular book series for kids, including some excellent series for children age 0-2.
Barbara Band, librarian and former President of the UK’s Library and Information Association, explains why reading aloud for babies is not only a great bonding experience but also an important part of early childhood development. She shares some tips on reading with babies and introduces her top baby book recommendations.