- Quiet Loud
by Leslie Patricelli
In this slightly larger-than-average board book, Leslie Patricelli makes a list of things that are quiet and things that are loud. Though the concept of opposites is too advanced for babies, onomatopoeia and repetition make this an ideal read-aloud for this age group. The simple, bold images will catch babies’ eyes, and the fact that there is no overarching plot makes it easy to skip pages if your group is particularly antsy.
- Big Fat Hen
by Keith Baker
This large picture book with eye-catching illustrations retells a well-known nursery rhyme, One Two Buckle My Shoe. The huge hens in each picture make this book very visually appealing, even to newborns, and the familar rhyme invites caregivers to participate. The surprise ending also appeals to adults and often recaptures the attention of those whose minds have begun to wander.
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury
Rhythmic repetitive rhyming text makes this book as fun to read as it is to hear. The cast of babies from different backgrounds reflects the diversity of story time audiences, and the story sneaks in some diverse vocabulary as well, including the word eiderdown, which I have never seen in any other children’s book. This story also lends itself well to child/caregiver interaction, and it’s great to finish it off by having everyone count their fingers and toes.
- Hello, Baby
by Mem Fox and Steve Jenkins
When I used to do baby story time in six-week spurts, this was always the book I read first during the first session. This one provides great visual representations of animals and also many opportunities to practice making animal sounds. It also has a built-in mechanism for keeping adults engaged because each line of the text is written as a question. The caregivers will often automatically start to answer no to each silly question, but you can also invite them to do so.
- Hello, Day
by Anita Lobel
This is one of the few picture books out there that explicitly teaches animal sounds. Though the text is not that exciting, the illustrations are gorgeous - and perfectly sized for groups of babies. This book works well as the first activity of story time, and it pairs nicely with the song When Ducks Get Up in the Morning.
- The Baby Goes Beep
by Rebecca O'Connell and Ken Wilson-Max
I have never had the chance to use this book in story time, but I’ve heard it read by others, and have read it to my daughter one-on-one. Hands down, it’s one of the best books for babies out there. Onomatopoeia, bright colors, repetition - all of these features are present - and because the book is so short and formulaic, parents can easily memorize it and chant it at home, using noises their own babies make. I don’t own this book, but I “read” it to my daughter from memory all the time.
- Baby Faces
by Margaret Mitchell
Babies love to look at faces of other babies, and this book gives them that opportunity on every page. The book itself has few words, so it’s easy to make up your own little sayings or phrases to go along with each page, or to lengthen or shorten the amount of time you spend on each face depending on the babies’ interest.
- The Babies on the Bus
by Karen Katz
Singable picture books are great for babies and they encourage lots of caregiver participation. Since most caregivers know the tune, and the words are printed in a fairly large font, most have no trouble joining right in. The bold, bright pictures of babies on every page also naturally appeal to babies' preference for colorful images.
- A Good Day
by Kevin Henkes
If you're looking for more of a story to share at baby story time, this is probably your best bet. It has a simple, straightforward plot, the entirety of which is conveyed in just a few sentences. The images use a lot of bold lines so it's easy for babies to differentiate the different figures in each picture, and some pages show nothing more than a pattern, which is guaranteed to enthrall even the youngest story time attendee.
- Baby Parade
by Rebecca O'Connell and Susie Poole
This is another one that I've never personally shared in story time, but I have seen it performed by another librarian, and I wished it had been available to me when I was doing baby story time. This book includes lots of pictures of babies, which are always intriguing to little ones. The text introduces interesting vocabulary, as it lists the many ways babies can be carried and transported. This book is hard to find in my local libraries, but it is a must-purchase!
- Higher! Higher!
by Leslie Patricelli
The text of this book includes only five different words, and most pages include just the refrain "Higher! Higher!" The illustrations provide opportunities to comment as much or as little as you want to on the little girl's journey from the swingset into space and back home again. Because the refrain is so easy to learn, caregivers generally pick it up right away and join in with you. It's also fun to encourage everyone to lift their babies into the air each time "Higher! Higher!" is said.
A full archive of my baby story times is available here. See a gallery of these books, with links to Goodreads, on Pinterest. Next week, watch for my list of the best action songs and rhymes for baby story time.