When it comes to preparing a nursery, there are many items on a parent’s checklist, from furniture and decor, to clothing and diapers — lots of diapers. However, more and more often, there’s one part of the nursery that goes overlooked and that’s the library. An essential part to any nursery, making sure your child (or grandchild) is exposed to the best classic children’s books is more important than you may think.
When should you start reading to babies?
You’ve likely heard “it’s never too early to start reading to your baby,” but when should you start? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should start reading aloud to their babies as soon as possible. So, why is it important to read to babies? Aside from being an enjoyable form of bonding between parents and their babies, reading is an integral part of early brain and childhood development, specifically when it comes to developing language, literacy, communication, memory, and social-emotional skills.
Best Classic Baby Books
From classic bedtime stories colored with captivating illustrations to interactive, rhyming board books your baby will be repeating back to you in no time, we’ve rounded up a comprehensive list, filled with all of your favorites. Whether you’re looking to stock up your nursery or on the hunt for the perfect baby shower gift, these books are bound to be on every parent’s wishlist. Keep scrolling for FIRST’s picks for the best classic baby books every nursery needs.
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Best Classic Baby Books The Very Hungry Caterpillar
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
No baby's nursery would be complete without a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. One of the most popular baby books around, did you know one is sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds? Filled with gorgeous illustrations and an easy to read story that'll help your little one learn the days of the week, this story will quickly munch its way into your child's heart.
Where to buy: $8.79, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Goodnight Moon
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
For the ultimate bedtime story, Goodnight Moon is a must. The first book many children will come in contact with, lull your baby to sleep with the little bunny's poem of goodnight wishes.
Where to buy: $7.19, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Pat The Bunny
3. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
For a book that'll stimulate the mind and senses, pick up a copy of Pat the Bunny. The premier "touch-and-feel" book, your child will love flipping the pages and getting to play with Paul's peekaboo blanket, daddy’s scratchy beard, and of course, the fluffy bunny!
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Where The Wild Things Are
4. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Where the Wild Things Are is the book every child deserves. The story of Max and his "wild rumpus" with the wild things is beloved my many not only for imaginative spirit, but for its lesson that teaches kids how parents will always love them through good and bad while reminding parents that while every kid has a wild thing in them, they know there's no place like home.
Where to buy: $7.59, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Corduroy
5. Corduroy by Don Freeman
For the perfect story about the importance of friendship, Corduroy is hard to beat. When we first meet Corduroy the teddy bear, we find him patiently waiting on a department store shelf for a friend to come along. One night, after finding one of his buttons is missing, he wanders through the department store, searching for his button and ultimately learning the true meaning on friendship.
Where to buy: $6.49, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Madeline
6. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelemans
First published in 1939, the story of precocious and headstrong Madeline has remained a favorite of children ever since. Filled with gorgeous illustrations of Paris, your little one will love hearing about the fun adventures of the brave little girl with the red hair.
Where to buy: $14.89, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books On The Night You Were Born
7. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
Revel in the night your lives changed forever with On the Night You Were Born. The story of the world's collective joy felt at the arrival of their little one, you'll love reminiscing in the magic of the day you brought them into the world as you try to get across to them just how special it was.
Where to buy: $6.69, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Little Engine That Could
8. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
The quintessential story of persevering and overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, The Little Engine That Could is a tale of what happens when you give your all and believe in yourself. Inspiring and entertaining, the lesson of "I think I can, I think I can," is an important one that's bound to stick for a lifetime.
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Cat In The Hat Dr Seuss
9. Dr. Seuss's Beginner Book Collection
When one thinks of children's books, there's usually one name that comes to mind — Dr. Seuss. Inarguably one of the most famous children's book authors, with so many profound and important books to his name we couldn't pick one, so we picked a set. Filled with classics like The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop, and Fox in Socks, you and your little one will love being immersed in the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss.
Where to buy: $24.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Colors Of Us
10. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
Just as it's never too early to start reading to your kids, it's never too early to teach your kids the importance celebrating the things that make us different. The Colors of Us follows seven-year old Lena as she discovers that no matter the skin color we're all special, celebrating the beauty of children of all colors.
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See
11. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle & Bill Martin
Kids get a kick out of stories with great pictures and a sing-songy story structure. In Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, you get the best of the both worlds. The perfect way to introduce your baby to the beauty of nature and the animals that inhabit it, this is one children's book that will never go out of style.
Where to buy: $7.55, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Curious George
12. Curious George by H. A Rey
Help cultivate your child's curiosity early on with the lovable monkey himself in Curious George. In the story that started it all, you and your bundle of joy will come to love the bright illustrations and the story of George, the Man in the Yellow hat, and all their misadventures in New York City!
Where to buy: $6.45, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Snowy Day
13. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
There's nothing more magical than wrapping your little one up in a snowsuit and watching their first encounter with snow. In The Snowy Day, follow the story of Little Peter as he marvels at this new world coming to life before his eyes and revel in the wonder of discovery every parent hopes their child keeps forever.
Where to buy: $7.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Wheres Spot
14. Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
Kids of all ages have loved Spot for decades so be sure you introduce your babe to the world's favorite puppy with a copy of Where's Spot? Your little one will love the colorful images and fun animal characters they encounter as they join in on the hunt for this precious pooch.
Where to buy: $6.86, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
15. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The ultimate tear-jerker, The Giving Tree is a must read — hear us out. While emotional, the book touches on the important themes of caring, giving, selflessness, and selfishness. The book is also unique in that it is a story that changes and grows over time for the reader as they age, making it a book that will tug on their heart-strings well into adulthood.
Where to buy: $10.95, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Guess How Much I Love You
16. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Guess How Much I Love You has one message to send to kids — no matter how much they think they love their parents, parents will always love them just a little bit more. A classic bedtime tale of the boundless love between a parent and their baby, it doesn't get much sweeter than this.
Where to buy: $6.79, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Rainbow Fish
17. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Filled with adorable illustrations and a fun and silly cyclical story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is the perfect book for any nursery library. A great way to teach kids about cause and effect, this book has also been a favorite amongst teachers for decades.
Where to buy: $11.49, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Five Little Monkeys
18. Five Little Monkeys by Eileen Christelow
Featuring five mischievous little monkeys, this playful tale is a great read with a surprising ending your child will love. Its repetitive text makes it a great beginning book for language development and its fun story is sure to spark a love of reading.
Where to buy: $8.99, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Booksthe Runaway Bunny
19. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
In her second appearance on our list, we have Margaret Wise Brown's The Runaway Bunny. Moving and incredibly relatable for all new moms, this books follows the story of a mother and baby bunny. As the baby bunny continues to run away during their games of hide and seek, the mother bunny follows, finding and reminding him along the way that if he runs away, "I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
Where to buy: $5.69, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books Llama Llama Red Pajama
20. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
A modern classic, Llama Llama Red Pajama is the story of one little llama dealing with the ultimate kid-sized crisis — being scared when mom leaves the room. A great read to start early on with your kiddos, this is a bedtime favorite that helps reassure kids that mom's "always near, even if she's not right here."
Where to buy: $14.79, Amazon
Best Classic Baby Books The Wonderful Things You Will Be
21. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
The greatest thing we can do for our children is to inspire them to dream and do great things. This is easy with The Wonderful Things You Will Be. Wise and whimsical, this book perfectly encapsulates all the wonderful hopes and dreams parents have for their children while also reminding kids that the sky's the limit.
Where to buy: $10.79, Amazon