Great Books: Baby Time!

A selection of engaging picture books just right for reading to lap-sitters, sharing with soon-to-be big siblings, or satisfying youngsters that revel in snuggling close.

These engaging picture books are just right for reading to lap-sitting little ones, encouraging toddlers who like to feel grown up, sharing with new or soon-to-be big siblings, or satisfying youngsters who like to snuggle close and revel in that special parent-child bond.


Baby’s Firsts. by Nancy Raines Day. illus. by Michael Emberley. Charlesbridge. Sept. 2018.
Baby-PreSSuccinct rhymes and charming illustrations celebrate everyday moments experienced by babies and their adoring parents during the first year of life. The action focuses on three different families as their little ones gradually progress from “First cry./First meal./First burp./Warm feel” to “First step,/then walk./First word, then talk” and culminates with first birthday festivities. The bold-hued pages bustle with realistic-looking characters, genuine emotions, and gentle humor.


First Laugh—Welcome, Baby! by Rose Ann Tahe & Nancy Bo Flood. illus. by Jonathan Nelson. Charlesbridge. Aug. 2018.
PreS-Gr 2In their “skyscraper home in the big, busy city” and during visits to grandparents on the Navajo Nation, the members of an doting Navajo family attempt to make Baby laugh for the very first time, and thus have the honor of hosting the First Laugh Ceremony. Will it happen after tasting a meal of blue cornmeal mush at the dinner table? Or when Grandfather splashes sunshine-sparkled water from a trough? When big brother makes silly faces, or Mama sings, or Papa tickles tummy and toes? This story about a Navajo tradition that formally welcomes children into a family and clans is lyrically and lovingly told and vibrantly illustrated with cartoon-style artwork. An author’s note discusses this and other ceremonies across the world that celebrate the arrival of a new baby.


Go Baby! Go Dog! by Anne Vittur Kennedy. Albert Whitman. Mar. 2018.
Baby-ToddlerA red-headed, diaper-clad tot is on the move (“Go baby/go baby/go baby”) and determined to make friends with a pet dog, which quickly makes itself scarce (“Go dog”). It takes much persistence (“Look baby”) and few tears (“Oh, baby!”), but the two ultimately end up as friends (“Nice baby./Good dog”), cuddled tightly together and contently snoozing. Pairing brief text and bright, motion-filled artwork, this board book provides a satisfying, smile-inducing tale for on-the-crawl babies and now ambulatory toddlers ready to celebrate their accomplishments—and their pets.


Hello, Baby Animals. by Lorinda Bryan Cauley. Dial. Jun. 2018.
Baby-ToddlerPairing a guessing-game format with pastel-hued artwork that takes adorable to a new extreme, Cauley introduces a bevy of familiar baby animals to youngsters. “Who has tall, spotted legs, and a long curvy tongue?” Soft-edged illustrations zoom in on these features, and a page turn reveals a closeup of a giraffe calf clothed in frilly-collared pale-pink top with flower pinned above ear. This book’s soothingly repetitive text structure, irresistible depictions, and unbounded charm will keep the pages turning until the final scene, as the cutie-pie critters gather together to gaze at and greet readers: “Oh, hello babies!”


Little Whale. by Jo Weaver. illus. by author. Peachtree. Oct. 2018.
PreS-Gr 2Little Whale and Gray Whale leave the shallows of the warm southern sea to journey north, passing above tide-drifting kelp forests, across coral reefs that sparkle with life, beneath midnight skies, and through danger-fraught depths before reaching the cool, food-rich waters that they call home. Beguiling text and realistic, light-shimmering charcoal artwork introduce gray whale migration while also accentuating the loving bond between mother and child and the safety and comfort of home.



Little You/Kîya-K’apisîsisîyan. by Richard Van Camp. illus. by Julie Flett. Orca. Apr. 2018.
Baby-PreS“Little you/little wonder/Little wish/gentle thunder/You are might/you are small/You are ours/after all.” Originally published in 2013 and now reissued with text in both English and Plains Cree, this book pairs eloquent verses with exquisite collage-style artwork to tenderly welcome a child into a close-knit family and celebrate the boundlessness of parental love. Van Camp and Flett’s equally enchanting We Sang You Home/Ka Kîweh Nikamôstamâtinân, first issued in 2016, is also available.


Leo Gets a Checkup. by Anna McQuinn. Illus. by Ruth Hearson. Charlesbridge. Sept. 2018.
Toddler-PreSIn this third entry about Leo, the smiling toddler is now capable of many things—drinking from a sippy cup, feeding himself, and even dancing (when standing tall and clutching tightly to his mother’s hands). Bright-hued, acrylic paintings and simple, upbeat text describe these feats along with a trip to the clinic with Daddy, where Leo is examined and given a shot to “keep him healthy,” before waving “Bye-bye!” and heading home. This solid offering in an endearing slice-of-life series is the perfect way to prepare little ones for medical appointments.


Loretta’s Gift. by Pat Zietlow Miller. illus. by Alea Marley. Little Bee. Aug. 2018.
PreS-Gr 2Loretta is smitten with her new cousin from the moment she meets him, calling him “the best baby on the block” and helping out by fetching diapers, tickling toes, and rocking him to sleep. She wants to celebrate Gabe’s arrival, but can’t think of the perfect gift. It takes all the way to his first birthday, and some wise words from Aunt Esme, for Loretta to realize her love for Gabe is the very best present she could ever give. This picture book’s playful storytelling, spot-on child’s perspective, and appealing earth-toned artwork make it a stand out.


A Most Unusual Day. by Sydra Mallery. illus. by E.B. Goodale. Greenwillow. Apr. 2018.
PreS-Gr 2Things are a bit out of the norm for Caroline, as she wakes up, distractedly completes her morning routine with a visiting Grandma, and endures an off-kilter day at school. The endless hours are filled with anticipation, until the bell finally rings and Mommy and Daddy arrive with “a bundle/from far, far away.” When Caroline holds her baby sister for the first time, she understands that “everything,/every usual thing,” has been made “unusually new/and perfectly right.” Told with graceful text and lovely warm-hued illustrations, this adoption story conveys Caroline’s experiences with a quiet sensitivity and heartfelt perception that will speak to all older siblings.


Tessa Takes Wing. by Richard Jackson. illus. by Julie Downing. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. Jul.2018.
Toddler-PreSWaking in her crib in the early morning hours, smiling baby Tessa says, “Up,” and when no one responds, she sprouts a tiny pair of butterfly wings and rises gently into the air for a secret adventure—spinning and soaring, hugging her big sister’s stuffed elephant, and sharing books with Bingo the dog. Tessa comes in for a soft landing before the rest of the family stirs, and begins a day filled with more traditional ups—in her high chair, on Daddy’s shoulders, and in Mama’s arms. Buoyant artwork twinkling with humorous details, delightful word play, and warmhearted whimsy make for a sweetly uplifting tale.


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