As a Children’s Librarian, you might say that I’m more than a little obsessed with kids’ books. As a pregnant Children’s Librarian, you might say that I eat, sleep, and breathe kids’ books….especially when it comes to books for babies. Now that I have a baby of my own on the way (and hence, a brand new baby book collection to start), my motivation to find only the very best in kids lit has reached a whole new level. Of course, you can always rely on the classics: The Very Hungry Caterpillar….Goodnight Moon….Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?…but over the past decade, the books-for-babies market has absolutely exploded – complete with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
So which books fall into the “good” category? Better yet, which books fall into the “great” category? Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve been test-driving any and all new baby books over the past few months, and I’ve discovered quite a few gems that are sure to make it into my baby’s hands. So if you have a little one (or one on the way), or even if you’re just looking for a great book to read to that squirmy little rug rat in your life, take it from me. This is the cream of the crop that you’ll actually enjoy reading 500 times over.
Bizzy Bear: Fun On the Farm by Benji Davies
New to the kids lit neighborhood is Bizzy Bear, the busiest bear in town. Bizzy Bear comes to us from the other side of the pond, and is created by the brilliant Brit, Benji Davies. In this, our first encounter with Bizzy Bear, he is on the farm where he visits the ducks, feeds the sheep, and collects the eggs – but this isn’t just any visit to the farm. This is a full on lift-the-flap-fest with surprises behind every corner. For me, a great lift-the-flap book needs to be sturdy, and above all, little fingers need to be able to do the lifting – and on both counts, this book succeeds. The text has a simple rhyming flow to it, and the illustrations are bright and cheery. Head over to There’s a Book and you can see a video of some kids putting Bizzy Bear through his paces. Three more equally great titles in the Bizzy Bear series: Let’s Go and Play, Off We Go, and Let’s Get to Work.
Noodle Loves to Cuddle by Marion Billet
Like Bizzy Bear, Noodle is a British import (and just as loveable as his bear cousin). Both British books are published by Nosy Crow, but the Noodle series is of the touch-and-feel variety — a sure hit with little ones of all ages. In Noodle Loves to Cuddle, we learn that this little panda loves to play with lots of things – a fluffy duck, a cosy blanket, a bumpy ball – all of which can be lovingly caressed by eager fingers. My favorite part is the ending, which includes a shiny mirror that babies can peer into with great fascination, paired with the heart-warming text that reads: “and just like Noodle, you love to cuddle too.” Again, to see the book in action, check out this video! Also worth reading? Noodle Loves Bedtime.
Trains Go by Steve Light
If you’ve ever read Freight Train by Donald Crews, you’ll understand the magic behind a good train book. I think all children are inherently smitten with trains, and I’m certain that at least part of the reason is the boisterous sounds they make. Steve Light has tapped into this knowledge, and in his book Trains Go, he brings life and personality to every train that appears on the page: “The big steam train goes, CHUGGA chugga chugga CHUGGA chugga chugga CHOO CHOOOOOOO!” The diesel train goes, “zooosh zooosh ZOOOOOOOOSH ding ding ding!” The American goes, “clang clang clang TOOT TOOT!” The book’s illustrations are gorgeous, with bright watercolors and plenty of strong black lines. The trains just pop as they whiz past, and you really get a sense of motion as you flip the page. Check this one out as an e-book, or stick to good old fashioned paper — we’ve got both at the library!
Yawn by Sally Symes
I may not be a mother just yet, but I am well aware of the fact that getting your kids to go to bed is somewhat of an art form. So when I picked up Yawn by Sally Symes, and started to yawn myself (the picture on the cover was enough to do it!), I thought hey, now this is a book that could come in handy. In this story, “Sean gave a YAWN while sitting on his mat. Guess who he gave it to? A scruffy, fluffy….” (I’m sure you can guess). In order to find out who is next to be overcome with a yawn, you have to turn the page….although the rhyming text does offer some clues. The illustrations are fun, with each yawner appearing with a die-cut hole for a mouth, gaping open. The perfect bedtime story that will put you (and your little one) right to sleep.
So take it from me! There are quite a few gems out there when it comes to books for babies — and maybe you’ve discovered some for yourself! Drop us a line, and let us know what some of your kid lit favourites are! I would love to add your suggestions to my growing collection.