creating a literacy rich home–part 3: reading to babies when to start? + 10 baby book essentials

creating a literacy rich home -- a 10 part series // #kids #literacy #reading

*This post contains affiliate links*

Part 3 of our 10 part series on creating a literacy rich home.

Today’s topic:  why you need to read to your baby + 10 must-have baby books // #books #baby #literacy

Reading to babies when to start? 

The answer: start right away. You can start reading to your baby as soon as they are born (in fact you should!).


Babies are smart.

Babies love to be read to.

Babies can learn to love books.

Babies love to be close to you & hear your voice.

Babies like books that are simple, colorful, & high contrast.


A few tips:

  • Start with a few minutes at a time & work your way up to longer. Most babies before 12 months have attention spans that will only last a minute or two at a time. That’s normal!
  • Take time to read to your baby any chance you can get. When they wake up, before naptime, during playtime. Short, frequent & repeated exposure is the way to go with babies.
  • Speaking in a high pitched voice is innuative for a reason–babies can hear you better when you do this, so don’t hesitate to speak in “baby speak,” but also, don’t be afraid to repeat words, to have your baby mimic you, & to stop & make eye contact with your baby frequently. Repition & modeling is in part how they learn language.
  • Stay away from board books that are too busy (too many words, too much going on in one page). Simple, high contrast books are ideal for babies.


Below are some of my top baby book picks.

Many of them are Usborne books–the rest you can buy on Amazon (of which I’m an affiliate), or get elsewhere.

Usborne books are only available through an Usborne distributor (which I am–click on the link & it will take you to my online store).

I’m a huge fan of Usborne books (huge!). I’ll tell you more in future posts exactly why, but I think this quote by the founder of this independent publishing company explains why I love them so much.

my philosophy on children & books for children // #parenting #books

This quote sums up the philosophy behind all Usborne books.

We own at least a hundred Usborne books (purchased over the years, not in one lump sum!) & they are hands down, an essential part of my children’s home library. I can’t talk about building a home library without mentioning Usborne books. Just thought you should know why I will often recommend Usborne titles!

Without further adieu, here’s my top 10 list of baby books I think are worth owning:

10 smart essential baby books worth owning // #books #parenting #baby


DK Baby Faces
Babies LOVE looking at pictures of other babies. This has been a hit with all of my babies.

Usborne’s Alphabet Picture Book
A bigger board book (sturdy pages)–I LOVE the illustrations. It’s never too early to introduce the alphabet to your child.

Usborne’s That’s Not My Elephant!
Usborne has an entire series of “That’s Not My ____.” They’re interactive, touchy feely books that are fun to read & look at. Babies love to touch & these books give them an opportunity to explore a variety of textures with their hands.
Tip: You can save money on Usborne books by buying a collection. That’s how I’ve purchased many of our books. You can get five of the That’s not my animal! books in this collection at 20% off regular price.

Usborne’s Animal Noises Board Book 
Darling illustrations & every baby needs to learn animal sounds.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC Amazing Alphabet board book
I recommend all Dr. Seuss’s board books (you can buy the collection)–babies love listening to the word play & rhythm used in Dr. Seuss’s books.

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, by Annie Kubler
Teach your baby the words to this popular song through fun illustrations.

Little Blue Truck, by Alice Shertle
A classic story turned into a board book. Love the storyline & illustrations.

Peek-a-WHO? by Nina Laden
Colorful, playful, simple & fun.

Usborne Book of Lullabies (w/ CD)
Lullabies are such a great way to connect with your baby & give them pre-literacy skills. Love all the lullabies in this collection.

Usborne’s Baby’s Very First Black & White Library
For the first year of life, babies see things better if there is a sharp contrast (ie. black & white). These books grab your baby’s attention & help them to focus on the images.


Other posts in this series: 

Part 1: 10 Reasons to Teach the Love of Reading
Part 2:  How to build your child’s home library on a budget + 15 must-own books
Part 4: Tips for reading with toddlers + 15 best books for toddler 

Do you have any favorite baby board books to add to this list? 


  1. Pingback: best books for toddlers 2-3

  2. Crystal
    on June 1, 2014 at 11:08 pm said:

    My kids and I LOVE Sandra Boynton books! The belly button books, Red hat green hat, snuggle puppy! So fun! 🙂 Great post!

  3. Melissa
    on May 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm said:

    I bought so many books from Goodwill and garage sales (haven’t paid full price for one yet!) but need to go through them to organize by age-appropriateness, not size or color (which made them look cuter on my shelf until I was ready to use them). I learned SO QUICKLY that unless the page background is solid-colored with a large, bright image on it, my little man doesn’t care to look.
    One thing you can add to your list of literacy tips (I don’t think I saw it in a prior post) is to point out the images or colors, or make up the story based on the images you see, when your kids are little and it isn’t the word-photo correlation you are working on. Pointing to the pictures and saying “Look! The ball is red! That hat is red too!” is just as good as reading the story itself, and helps with generalization. Plus, it can get a bit tedious to the little one to sit through a story.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm said:

      “I learned SO QUICKLY that unless the page background is solid-colored with a large, bright image on it, my little man doesn’t care to look.”
      Yes, which is why those board books that have a ton of words on them with dull, busy images are LAME for babies. Don’t worry though, his attention span will increase before you know it! And every kid is different. Amalia has been able to sit & look at books for extended periods of time since she was a baby. Just having them hold the book (even if they’re chewing on it!) & turning pages is awesome.

      “Pointing to the pictures and saying “Look! The ball is red! That hat is red too!” is just as good as reading the story itself, and helps with generalization.”
      Absolutely! Any/all exposure is good exposure. Whatever you can do to get them interested in looking at the pages is fabulous.

      And again, before you know it, your little man will show more interest in sitting for longer periods! It goes by fast.


    • Janae Wise
      on May 30, 2014 at 4:24 pm said:

      Oh yes, and about Goodwill, I scored so many great books when I was in Seattle last year! LOVE that Goodwill!