15 Classic Baby Books That Belong in Every Nursery
No nursery is complete without a library of classic baby books. Even the tiniest baby will love hearing your voice as you snuggle together for story time.
Make reading a part of your routine from the get-go and you’ll find it becomes a treasured tradition that helps wee ones drift off to dreamland while also teaching language and increasing their understanding of the world. Where to start? That’s easy as ABC. Here are 15 classic books that belong in every nursery (and make the perfect baby shower gift)!
Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
This might be the most famous baby book of all time, and for good reason. Bidding goodnight to each object in the room (“goodnight bears, goodnight chairs”) makes bedtime feel safe and cozy. The poetic rhythm may lull you to sleep was well!
Guess How Much I Love You?, by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
A young rabbit tries to express his feelings in this heartwarming tale about a parent and child’s love for each other. Ever heard the expression, “I love you to the moon and back?” It’s probably from this classic baby book.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
Each animal in this colorful board book is asked the same question: “What do you see?” The answer appears on the next page where a new animal (such as a yellow duck or blue horse) is revealed. The sing-song words are fun to read and your babe will have her colors down in no time.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Our caterpillar starts out eating “through” one apple on Monday (there’s a caterpillar-sized hole in the book to peek through). Still hungry, he samples new foods each day until he’s big enough to turn into a butterfly. The simple story teaches numbers, foods, and days of the week—and it might just make your baby excited for solids!
Time for Bed, by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Mama animals snuggle down with their babies and remind them that it’s night-night time in gorgeous rhyming couplets, like “It’s time for bed, little sheep, little sheep/the whole wide world is going to sleep.” Soothing and dreamlike, this one works every time.
Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss
This Dr. Seuss classic is easy for young readers to understand and very funny, as the overzealous Sam-I-Am tries to convince the narrator to try green eggs and ham served up in all sorts of rhyming ways—in the rain, on a train, with a fox, in a box.
Goodnight Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman
The magic of Goodnight Gorilla is that it has very few words, letting you explain its funny story to your baby. In a nutshell, a mischievous gorilla steals the zookeeper’s keys and lets all the animals out of their cages. Mrs. Zookeeper finds them napping in her house and gently leads them back where they belong.
Go Dog, Go, by P.D. Eastman
Dogs of every variety—big and little, black and white, fast and slow—gather together for a big dog party, all along slyly conveying the concept of opposites. Add in some silly hats and you’ll understand why this one never goes out of print.
Corduroy, by Don Freeman
A stuffed bear who lives in a department store dreams of being bought by a little girl, but first he’ll need to replace his lost button, even if he has to search the entire store. The touching story comes with a valuable lesson—we are loved for who we are, imperfections and all.
Pajama Time, by Sandra Boynton
Parents will debate their favorite Sandra Boynton books—and you really can’t go wrong—but we like any story that celebrates bedtime! The funny animals of Pajama Time suit up in their goofy jammies, singing and dancing their way to sleep.
Jamberry, by Bruce Degen
A boy and his bear friend journey through a wonderland of berries. The musical wordplay—“berryband, merryband, jamming in berryland”—is incredibly fun to read aloud, and you’ll always find something new to point out in the gorgeous illustrations.
The Napping House, by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood
It begins, “There is a house, a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.” Each page adds characters to the story, such as a granny and a child, all restfully napping…at least until the funny surprise ending.
Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
Do you remember the story of 12 little girls in two straight lines? It certainly has stood the test of time, with countless movie and television adaptations. Although the plucky heroine does endure appendicitis, all ends well, and we admire how the little heroine at the center of this classic book handles adversity.
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Peter wakes up to a snowy wonderland and goes outside to explore, making tracks with a stick and forging snowballs. The point of view of a young child is so beautifully observed, you’ll remember exactly what it felt like to be little.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
A family sets out on an obstacle-filled adventure in search of a bear. Whether they’re navigating thick oozy mud or a dark gloomy cave, they always approach it with the same determined refrain: “We can’t under it. We can’t go over it. Oh no, we’ll have to go through it!” It’s a great lesson about facing fears, and the onomatopoeic descriptions (“squelch squelch”) are a blast to read aloud.
More Baby Books for Your Nursery:
- Best Books for a Baby’s First Year
- Interactive Books for Toddlers
- First Day of School Books
- Books About Race, Justice, and Equality
- Books That Celebrate LGBTQ+ Stories
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.