Babies & Books

Babies & BooksMOON

Welcome Baby! Congratulations New Parent!

Every parent gives his or her child the gift of life. Sharing books with your child is also a gift you as a parent can give. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. It’s up to you to start your baby on the way to understanding words. When you talk, sing, listen and read to your baby, you are teaching very important skills. Your baby is starting to learn from you right now.

This website has ideas for the kinds of things you can do with your child during the early stages of growing. It contains a small list of the many books you may share together and some books which can help you as a parent.

This is just a beginning. Your local library is full of many other fine books and materials, as well as special programs just for you and your baby.


Why Read To Your Baby?

Why Read to Your Baby?

  • Reading to your baby creates a special bonding time for you and your child.
    It helps your baby learn new words.
  • It helps your baby become a good listener.
  • It prepares your baby for learning to read and for future success in school.
  • It introduces your baby to many experiences through stories, songs and rhymes.
  • It is a calming activity that makes parenting easier.
  • And most of all…it is fun for both of you.
  • Reciting nursery rhymes is a wonderful way to introduce your baby to new words.

Star Light,
Star Bright
Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

 Find this and more Mother Goose rhymes in My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie.


This Little Pig

This little pig went to market,
(Hold and wiggle baby’s big toe.)

This little pig stayed home,
(Hold and wiggle the next toe.)

This little pig had roast beef,
(Move to the next toe.)

This little pig had none,
(Wiggle the fourth toe.)

And this little pig cried,
(Walk fingers up leg and tickle.)

All the way home.

 Find this rhyme and others in The Little Dog Laughed and Other Nursery Rhymes, illustrated by Lucy Cousins.

How To Share Books With Your Baby?

How to Share Books with Your Baby

  • Have a regular time for reading each day, such as naptime, after meals or bedtime.
  • Pick a book that you and your child will like.
  • Find a comfortable and cozy place to sit.
  • Choose a quiet place away from TV, radio and other distractions.
  • Hold the book so your baby can see the pictures and words clearly.
  • Use your voice to make the words come alive.
  • Have your baby take part in the reading by pointing out objects, talking about the pictures or saying common words.
  • Reread your baby’s favorite books whenever asked.
  • Pack a book to read during waiting times – on trips, at the doctor’s or in line at the store.
  • Borrow books from your library so there are plenty of books in your home.
  • Keep reading times short and fun. Stop if your baby becomes fussy or restless.


Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake,
(Clap hands with rhythm)

Baker’s man,
Bake me a cake
As fast as you can.

Pat it and poke it,
(Roll and clap hands.)

And mark it with B,
(Trace “B” on palm.)

And put it in the oven
(Throw both hands up.)

For baby and me!
(Point to baby and self.)

Find this in the board book Pat-A-Cake by Tony Kenyon.

Newborn (Birth to 6 Months)

Newborns love the soothing sounds of familiar voices, the security of being held and the sight of bright bold pictures.

During this time your newborn will learn to:

  • stare at things nearby
  • watch your movements and facial expressions
  • make different sounds – babbles, coos, squeals
  • play with hands and feet
  • enjoy rhythm and being rocked
  • cry to show feelings

What you can do with your newborn:

  •  prop board books next to your baby for him/her to look at
  • listen to your baby “talk”; smile and babble back
  • talk about what you are doing
  • point to and name objects and pictures
  • choose some books that show faces of different people
  • choose some books that have different textures to touch and feel
  • calm your baby with nursery rhymes and songs
  • rock your baby to sleep with lullabies

Rock-a-bye, Baby

Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Find this and other songs in Singing Bee! A Collection of Favorite Children’s Songs by Jane Hart

Older Baby (6 to 15 months)

Older babies begin to say a few words. They like to grab, chew, poke, push, point and sort things around them as well as sit, crawl and maybe walk.

Your older baby will learn to:

  • grab for and hold toys and books
  • take objects in and out of containers
  • bang, shake, bite and drop things
  • play simple games (peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake)
  • understand action words
  • follow simple directions
  • imitate speech sounds and words

What you can do with your older baby:

  • let your baby “help” turn the pages of strong board books
  • pick some books that allow your baby to move parts or put hands through holes
  • sing to your baby; recite active rhymes
  • point to and name objects in books
  • reread the same favorite stories to your baby
  • listen to and praise your baby’s attempts to use real words

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Find this and other rhymes and songs in Songs from Mother Goose by Nancy Larrick.

Young Toddler (15 months to 2 years)

Young toddlers are active, curious and learn many new words and phrases.

Your young toddler will learn to:

  •  copy words, phrases and movements
  • put words together in combinations such as “All done”
  • play simple question-and-answer games
  • assert self often by saying “No”
  • act out everyday roles (dressing, going to work, cooking, cleaning)
  • actively explore what’s around
  • like toys that move or make noise
  • enjoy learning and reciting finger plays
  • listen to music and dance to the rhythm

What you can do with your young toddler:

  • find longer stories to enjoy again and again
  • while reading, ask your child to tell you about the pictures
  • play simple finger and action rhymes
  • have a special low place for your child’s books
  • let your toddler sometimes choose what to read
  • have small easy-to-carry books or books as big as your toddler
  • match books to activities (read Max’s Bath by Rosemary Wells and then splash in the tub)
  • read together often, keeping times short and fun

Noble Duke of York

Oh, the noble Duke of York,
(March in place or bounce baby gently.)

He had ten thousand men.
He marched them up the hill,
(Raise and lower arms as words state.)

And marched them down again.
And when they’re up, they’re up.
And when they’re down, they’re down.
And when they’re only half way up,
They’re neither up nor down.

Find this and other fun rhymes in Play Rhymes by Marc Brown.

Older Toddler (2 to 3 years)

Older toddlers are developing a sense of themselves, so books that show daily routines and how things work will help them better understand their place in the world around them.

Your older toddler will learn to:

  •  build a much larger listening and speaking vocabulary
  • understand simple concepts such as “empty/full”
  • count and name some colors
  • recognize different shapes, sizes and textures
  • take part in imaginary play
  • enjoy humor and “silly” language
  • start to develop a sense of right and wrong
  • hold a book and read it aloud to self
  • notice changes in the world around her/him, such as the seasons

What you can do with your older toddler:

  • read simple counting and alphabet books
  • take part in nonsense rhymes and word guessing games
  • help your older toddler act out stories
  • share books that have rhyming or repeating words and phrases
  • enjoy simple nonfiction books, such as ones about animals or machines
  • let your older toddler see you reading your own books for fun
  • read books that deal with relationships between parent and child


This is the way
(Make as if blowing up a balloon.)

We blow our balloon.
Blow! Blow! Blow!
This is the way
(Clap hands together for breaking of balloon.)

We break our balloon.
(“How sad” face over broken balloon.)

Oh, oh, no!

Find this and other action rhymes in The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson.

Suggested Books

Suggested Books for Babies — Search the Catalog

  • Start by reading simple rhymes and poems to your newborn:
    • Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker
    • The Baby’s Lap Book by Kay Chorao
    • Bumpety Bump by Kathy Henderson
    • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    • Here Comes Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie
    • Jan Ormerod’s To Baby with Love by Jan Ormerod
    • Tomie DePaola’s Mother Goose by Tomie DePaola
  • Young babies like to look at books with colorful, bold pictures:
    • Baby’s Boat by Jeanne Titherington
    • Freight Train by Donald Crews
    • Mama Mama by Jean Marzollo
    • “More, More, More” Said the Baby by Vera Williams
    • Where Does the Brown Bear Go? by Nicki Weiss
  • Older babies enjoy holding cardboard books and turning the pages. These sturdy books stand up to rough play:
    • Animal Crackers by Jane Dyer
    • Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
    • Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
    • Max’s Bath by Rosemary Wells
    • Spot Helps Out by Eric Hill
    • Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
    • Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury
    • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • Young toddlers like books with an easy-to-follow story that moves at a fast pace:
    • Benny Bakes a Cake by Eve Rice
    • Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
    • Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
    • I Went Walking by Sue Williams
    • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura J. Numeroff
    • Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Older toddlers can sit for longer stories. They are learning new concepts and they understand humor:
    • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
    • Come Along, Daisy by Jane Simmons
    • Corduroy by Dan Freeman
    • Curious George by H. A. Rey
    • Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
    • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
    • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Babies and toddlers need books about real-life situations to prepare them for new experiences:
    • A Potty for Me by Karen Katz
    • All by Myself by Aliki
    • Airport by Bryon Barton
    • Baby’s Book of the Body by Roger Priddy
    • First Day of School by Helen Oxenbury
    • Going to the Doctor by Anne Civardi
    • I Like Me, I Like You by Laurence Anholt
    • I’m Going to Grandma’s by Mary Ann Hoberman


Suggestions for Parenting Titles — Search the Catalog

  • Baby Play & Learn by Penny Warner – games and activities for skill development in babies up to age three
  • Brain Games for Babies, Toddlers and Twos by Jackie Silberg – interactive games to help babies become more aware of the world around them
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – lists of excellent books to read aloud, plus helpful suggestions for how to enjoy reading with your child
  • Read to Me: Raising Kids Who Love to Read by Bernice E. Cullinan – practical guide to encourage your child’s interest in books
  • Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos by Susan Straub and K.J. Dell’Antonia – advice for choosing, reading and loving books together
  • Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics – good information for childcare
  • Touchpoints Birth to 3: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. – doctor talks about many issues faced by families with kids, birth through age 3
  • Baby Milestones by Dr. Carol Cooper – covers growth, important steps like walking and talking, choosing the best toys and other concerns of parents

Children who are not spoken to by adults will not learn to speak properly. Children who are not answered will stop asking questions. They will no longer be curious. And children who are not told stories and who are not read to will have few reasons for wanting to learn to read.
— Adapted from Gail E. Haley’s Caldecott Medal acceptance speech, 1971

Online Resources

Funding for this project was supported by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to The New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services with the assistance of the Mid-Hudson Library System.

Copyright ©1998 by Mid-Hudson Library System
All rights reserved.

 Writer/editor, Barbara Clapp
Booklet design/cover illustration, Deborah Begley


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