What Should I Read to My Baby?

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What Should I Read to My Baby? - 8 Suggestions from LibraryAdventure.comIf you have or work with young children, you have undoubtedly heard about the importance of reading to them from birth. What might have you stumped, though, is exactly what you should read to a baby in his or her first year of life. Here are some specific examples of read-aloud material you can share with your little one to help further his or her language development.

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are perfect for babies because they are short and rhythmic. They are also really easy for parents to memorize and share on the spot. In those moments where you realize it would be a perfect time to read but you don’t have a book, simply chant a few of your favorite rhymes.

It’s also great to discover new ones in books from your local library such as The Neighborhood Mother Goose, Pocketful of Posies, and Playtime Rhymes for Little People.


Poems are another great option for babies because many of them rhyme, and most of them are just a few lines long. Many children’s poetry books are sorted by category, so if you’re not sure which poem to read, it’s easy to find one related to the weather, the current season, or the time of day.

For the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, we read the same good morning poem each day. We have also made bedtime poems part of our nightly routine. The books where I have found the poems I use most frequently are Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young and Here’s a Little Poem.

Rhyming texts

Ask your librarian for assistance in finding books with rhyming text. Young babies are more likely to pay attention to the lilt of a rhyming book than to plain, flat prose, and if you’re really up on your early literacy jargon, this is also a great way to promote phonological awareness. Some great rhyming picture books include Bear Snores On, Yawn, and Ten Little Babies.

Books with bright, bold pictures

Babies respond to big, bold, and bright illustrations. Look for books with thick lines, primary colors, clear shapes, interesting patterns and large pages.

Don’t worry if there is too much or too little text; you can always just point out things in the pictures and chat about them without actually having a story to read.

Good examples of visually appealing books like this include: Big Fat Hen, My Heart is Like a Zoo, and Jabberwocky.

Repetitive texts

Babies learn by repetition, so books with a repeated refrain or a cumulative list of characters are great choices. The Napping House, Monkey and Me, and Higher! Higher! are repetitive books that have worked well for me.

Singable books

Singing is another great way to promote language skills, so why not sing a story? Singable stories are a great way to include both rhyme and repetition in your reading  repertoire.

Jane Cabrera and Iza Trapani both have picture book versions of a variety of children’s songs. Other great ones include Little White Duck and The Babies on the Bus.

(Can’t sing? Your baby doesn’t mind – truly! – but if you’re self-conscious, chanting works well too.)

What you’re reading

The primary reason for reading to babies is to expose them to language, and no law says you have to read them children’s books. If you’re working your way through a novel or article, don’t hesitate to read some of it aloud to your child.

The sound of your voice alone is interesting to your baby and infants are still young enough that scary, mature, and sensitive subject matter goes right over their heads. My daughter has heard C.S. Lewis, Sue Grafton, and Gary D. Schmidt.

What interests your baby

The label on the baby food jar, the car seat’s warning label, the washing instructions on the tag of her favorite lovey – if a piece of print has caught your baby’s attention, go ahead and read it aloud. This promotes print awareness and sneaks a few extra seconds of reading into your day at the same time!

For great books to share with babies, check out my posts: Best of Baby Story Time: Books and Books for New Babies: A Gift Guide.

About Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald holds degrees in English and library science, and has worked in small town and big city libraries, serving both children and teens. You can read her book reviews and posts about story time, picture books, and early literacy at Story Time Secrets. Also follow her blog on Facebook for kidlit quotations, story time suggestions, and interesting links.

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