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Top 5 Books for Babies and Toddlers in 2021

It’s no secret that promoting literacy in children has enormous benefits, from self-confidence to curiosity. Studies show, however, that reading to babies as early as the first few months of their lives has long lasting benefits as well. In this article, we’ll be covering the importance of reading to babies, some helpful tips for maximizing reading time, and finally, the top 5 books for babies and toddlers this year.

Why reading to your baby is important

Although your baby hasn’t mastered sounds and letters yet, reading to your baby has been shown to promote language development. A third of children enter kindergarten without the language skills needed to learn to read and write, but reading to your baby could provide them with those skills.

In addition to giving your baby a head start on language development, reading out loud helps promote emotional development. When you’re reading to your baby they are not only paying attention to the book, but also to your facial expressions. The baby typically mimics those expressions, helping with the development of emotional intelligence.

The best ways to read to your baby

With a busy household, you might be wondering how you’re going to squeeze story time into your child’s busy day. Reading a block book doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and can be easily integrated into other routines, such as bathtime, bedtime, or even feeding.

With babies and toddlers, don’t worry if they’re not paying much attention to your brilliant performance of “Good Night, Moon”, or if they’re crawling all over the place. They are still being exposed to the sound of your voice and those all important emotional cues, even if they simply have to chew on their toys while they listen.

Babies and newborns often fixate on one point of the book, and demand that it be read over, and over. Again, don’t stress if you’re not making it through the whole book each time. With early reading it’s important to just go with the flow.

Babies crave strong stimuli. Bright books with interactive features, tactile experiences and sounds are all great things to have in books for babies. Even if they’re just touching and not listening, they’re still getting something out of it. The baby brain’s capacity for learning is endless.

With thousands of colorful and fun books on the market, it can be overwhelming to decide what to get.

We’ve put together a list of the 5 best books for babies and toddlers in 2021.


B is For Bison: A National Parks Primer

Author/illustrator: Greg Paprocki

This beautifully illustrated book will teach your baby (and you!) about the National Parks, while getting them acquainted with the alphabet. You’ll love the retro mid-century illustrations (because some baby books are plain ugly), and they’ll love the different landscapes and animals.

This book ages well into the toddler years. Once your child gets old enough, you can take them on adventures to the national parks, and they may just remember their favorite places from the book!


Trees: A Count and Find Primer

Author/illustrator: Greg Paprocki

We couldn’t resist including another nature book illustrated by Greg Paprocki, and for good reason. Taking your child on adventures out in nature can be one of the most stimulating activities you can do. Books like this count and find primer on trees help prepare babies for being in the great outdoors, even if you can’t get out often.

Babies will love trying to find things in the book (with a lot of help from you), and older children will be able to use what they learned from the book to identify trees in the wild!


Ocean Animals (Words of the World Series)

Author/Illustrator: Motomitsu Maehara

The Words of the World Series is a fantastic series of baby books that introduce babies to multiple languages. The purpose of this book isn’t to teach your baby six new languages, but to expose them to a diversity of languages.

Each page of the book shows an illustration of two animals, and features the words for those animals in seven languages: English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, French, Arabic, and the constructed language Esperanto.

Although this book is beneficial for any child, it is especially helpful for multilingual children who speak more than one language featured in the book. So rarely is there a resource that can so directly help your child draw parallels between the multiple languages they are acquiring, that this is a must buy if you’re raising a child who speaks two or more of these languages.


Feelings (Lamaze Mirror & Me Board Book)

Author/Illustrator: Rose Colombe

This book is the ultimate tool to help your child develop emotional intelligence. Created in collaboration with early childhood development experts, Feelings is designed to introduce your child to an array of emotions and their corresponding facial expressions.

Each page features an adorable animal, with the face replaced by a mirror. Babies will be fascinated by seeing their own face reflected back on them! The book instructs the child to “act surprised” or “act silly”. While younger babies aren’t able to necessarily follow those instructions, you can certainly demonstrate the facial expressions for them, and your baby will delight in trying to imitate them.

Here’s to silly reading time!


TummyTime: Happy Baby

Author/Illustrator: duopress labs/Violet Lemay

This fun accordion book was truly designed for newborns. Tummy time is important for a newborn’s muscle development, but it can be difficult to motivate a baby to use those muscles to look up.

This high contrast book is designed to be used for tummy time. The accordion design allows the baby to see multiple pages at once, what’s sure to keep them looking forward. One side features black and white contrasted illustration, which is perfect for newborns who cannot yet see in color. The other side of the book includes cute baby illustrations. It’s two books in one!

It’s never too early to integrate reading into your baby’s routine, and indeed studies show that the earlier the better. Story time should be a fun activity for you and your baby, so remember to just go with the flow and focus on fun.

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