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Our top 10 books for baby’s bookshelf

It’s never too early to read or sing to babies. They will tune into the sounds, rhythms and patterns of your voice and will gradually focus on, and delight in, the pictures. Books are a wonderful way to engage your baby in a shared, enjoyable and stimulating activity and a perfect way to spend time together. As babies grow, they will join in with your actions, words and tunes to bring the book to life. This early experience is an important first step on their journey as readers.

The stories, songs and rhymes you share together are likely to include favourites from your own childhood, children’s classics and new books by contemporary writers and illustrators. Some will be board-books, cloth or sturdy pop-up books that your baby can handle themselves. Here are some books to bring back happy memories and introduce you to some new family favourites. You can build your collection of favourite books through exploring other titles by these exceptional authors and illustrators. For more ideas also see Our top 10 classic picture books  and our Books for 0-3 years .


Dear Zoo
Rod Campbell

An interactive, open-the-flaps book about receiving surprise presents from the zoo.
Each one has to be unwrapped and then sent back until the most perfect present of all arrives.

Lots of repeated phrases and fun to join in with and enjoy.
A young family sharing the book (Scottish Book Trust)
See our ideas for sharing Dear Zoo here

For another lift the flap book see Where’s Spot? Our activities here

Hello You!
Campbell Books

A rhyming, rhythmic book which takes you through key points in a baby’s day including breakfast, playing with a friend, bath and bed. Full of gorgeous black and white photographs of a diverse group of babies. An added feature is a fold out mirror page so that babies can see themselves.


Honey for you, Honey for me                                                          
Michael Rosen, illus. Chris Riddell
Walker Books

This is a collection of playground songs and nursery rhymes collated by Michael Rosen and beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell. Adult readers may recognize a few here eg ‘Jelly on the plate’ and ‘The North Wind Shall Blow’ but there will be lots of new discoveries too.

Great to share with children. You will soon identify your own favourites to read or sing and maybe act out together.
Listen to Michael Rosen reading some of the rhymes here: 

This book would make a perfect companion to A Great Big Cuddle by the same team which contains Michael Rosen’s original rhymes. See our activity page here for A Great Big Cuddle here 

It’s a Little Baby
Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb
Pan Macmillan

A new book with an interactive rhyme to say or sing, containing flaps and actions for joining in. It’s tuneful and pitched just right for babies and young children.

Sung by Julia Donaldson  Also see video of sharing the book with baby on same web page.

(Bear and Hare series)
Emily Gravett
Pan Macmillan

Bear and Hare went for a walk and found lots of interesting things along the way. “Mine!” said Hare. But Bear didn’t care until.. Hare found honey and the bees gave chase! Poor Hare. “There there” soothed caring Bear.

Beautifully illustrated and a playfully told tale of acceptance and love. Read aloud
For another book about friendship and sharing see Banana! by Ed Vere.


Peekaboo Apple
Camilla Reid, illus. Ingela P Arrhenius
Nosy Crow

Peekaboo is a favourite first game with babies and toddlers everywhere. Cleverly designed with a range of ingenious slots and sliders make this attractive board book fun to share. A baby, dog, butterfly and snail magically appear as the tabs are pulled or turned finishing with a mirror page surprise at the end of the book, so babies see themselves appear too.  The text is a simple, engaging rhyme which children will enjoy sharing again and again.


Very First Mother Goose
Iona Opie. Illus. Rosemary Well

A magical compendium of classic nursery rhymes collected by renowned folklorist Iona Opie and illustrated by the irrepressible watercolourist, Rosemary Wells. Described as the ‘mother of all nursery rhyme books’, this is a collection to dip into and treasure over days and years.


Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Men Fox, Helen Oxenbury (illus)
Walker Books

In this book we meet babies born all over the world and discover that although their skin colour may vary and they are born in very different places they have a lot in common; they all have ‘ten little fingers and ten little toes’. The rhythm and repetition of this memorable refrain makes this book fun to read aloud. There is opportunity for lots of toe tickling, cuddles and kisses with one very special baby as the book ends too.


That’s Not my Lion
Fiona Watt, illus. Rachel Wells,
Usborne Books

The unseen narrator is in search of his lion – and is looking for the one which feels just right. The repetitive rhyme is pleasing to read aloud and for toddlers to join in with. There are feely patches on every page for little fingers explore. And of course, the narrator finds their lion at the end.
This is just one of a huge collection of That’s Not My… books from Usborne so if you and your child like this one you could look out for more at the local library.


Wow! said the Owl
Tim Hopgood

When little owl stays awake one night he is amazed by the beautiful colours around him but he discovers the starlit night time sky is most beautiful of all.
Watch the story

A beautifully illustrated story about colours with a repeated refrain which is fun for joining in.
For more ideas to build baby’s first bookshelf see  our classic picture book section and our books for 0-3 year olds.