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22 Best Baby Books to Thrill All New Parents at a Baby Shower 

Tertulia staff •
Jul 28th, 2023

It always felt like summer brought with it an uptick in baby showers. Turns out, there’s science that actually backs that up. July through October sees the most births in the U.S., with August as the most popular overall. So as you prepare for yet another shower, consider this selection of both classic board and picture books and more contemporary finds. From Goodnight Moon to spinoff books from the Bluey hit franchise, these are the best baby books to gift for your next baby shower (and the many that are sure to follow). 

The Classic Baby Books

Classic children's books are always a great choice for baby shower gifts. It’s true that you may find yourself gifting or receiving multiple copies of these baby books. That’s completely fine – you can’t go wrong with any of these as bookshelf essentials that lay the foundations for years to come. Here’s a short list of the must-have classic books for babies:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar sells every 30 seconds. Over 55 million copies sold later, it’s still right up there with the best baby books. And the story continues with The Very Hungry Caterpillar's First Winter and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eats Dinner: A Shapes Book! You can get the whole set together or give these board books separately – either way, it’s sure to find its way into the hearts of parents and babies alike.

2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This cherished children's book has been a bedtime favorite across generations with its calming prose and soothing illustrations providing the perfect close to a baby’s day. Set within the comfort of a softly lit bedroom, a little bunny bids goodnight to each familiar object in a rhythmical lullaby that lulls its readers to a peaceful slumber. A perennial favorite for every generation, it comes in a board book edition that’s ideal for little hands.

3. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak's Caldecott Medal-winning Where the Wild Things Are is a staple on every baby or toddler bookshelf and is revered as one of the National Education Association's "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." The iconic tale follows Max, a mischievous child in a wolf suit, on a fantastical journey to an island of Wild Things, his adventures brought vividly to life through meticulously reproduced, stunning illustrations that Sendak himself praised for their faithfulness to the original.

4. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The most checked-out book in the New York Public Library’s history, Ezra Jack Keats' Caldecott Medal-winning picture book earns its spot among the best baby books. The tale follows Peter, a little boy who embarks on an adventure in his snowsuit, beautifully capturing the enchantment of a child's first encounter with snow.

5. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

A top pick from librarians, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has been a chosen book for babies for more than three decades and makes a cherished addition to any young reader's collection. The classic board book edition of the energetic alphabet chant tells a rhythmic tale about the letters of the alphabet embarking on a race up a coconut tree, leading to a playful "Chicka Chicka Boom! Boom!" for parents and kids to sing together.

Sandra Boynton’s Books for Babies

Sandra Boynton, an American cartoonist, children's author, and songwriter, has created an impressive body of work since 1974, which includes more than 75 children's books and six albums of unique children's music. The New Yorker even dedicated an entire article to an in-depth look into her books’ unique cross-generational appeal. Though seemingly simple and innocent baby books for boys and girls, her stories have hidden depths and layered meanings that let readers draw parallels between her books and the reality of parenting or socio-cultural dynamics. This complexity makes her work not just tolerable but enjoyable for adults as well.

6. The Going to Bed Book

In Sandra Boynton's iconic board book, a delightful bunch of animals transforms bedtime into a lively adventure, scrubbing in the tub and brushing their teeth before settling down to sleep. As they bid the day farewell and the lights dim, the story offers a warm, funny way to end the day.

7. Barnyard Dance!

Inviting readers to join a lively barnyard dance, this energetic board book features twirling pigs, fiddle-playing cows, and other memorable animals. It’s a rhythmically rhymed tale that’s certain to get babies and adults dancing, swinging, and prancing along with its exuberant cast.

8. Hippos Go Berserk!

After bypassing traditional publishers and releasing the title – Boynton’s first-ever children’s book – in 1977 with a greeting card company instead, this book sold over 50,000 copies during that year. And it still gets the party started today! Hilarious hippos escalate an all-night party with their ever-increasing attendance, demonstrating a fun counting concept perfect for travel, bedtime or party time.

9. Belly Button Book!

Looking for even more hippos in your baby stories? Boynton’s got you covered with this board book featuring bare-bellied hippos that’s sure to lead to enduring laughter. Inside, readers are treated to a whimsical beach scene full of these fun characters, including a tiny baby who only says "BEE BO!," all wrapped up in lively illustrations and delightful rhyming text.

Spinoff Baby Stories from Bluey

Bluey is a hit animated children's series that debuted in 2018 in Australia and has since spread worldwide, streaming in the U.S. on Disney+. The cartoon revolves around a six-year-old puppy, Bluey, who experiences various developmental events each episode alongside her brother, mother, and father. Since its launch, "Bluey" has received an Emmy, and sparked a hit album and a touring play. It’s also inspired a series of spinoff books for babies that capture the joy, adventure and life lessons from the TV show – in literary form.

10. Bluey: The Beach

In this Bluey adventure, Bluey embarks on a fun-filled beach day, during which she discovers a beautiful shell while her mother, Chili, is taking a walk. As she rushes to show Chili her find, Bluey experiences a series of comical and surprising encounters that challenge her in unexpected ways. A baby book version of a beach read, this title is filled with delightful illustrations and a cast of familiar characters. 

11. Bluey: Grannies

Based on the TV episode by the same name, Bluey and Bingo aim to unravel a curious mystery: do grannies really dance? As always, the beloved Blue Heelers at the center of the Bluey series maintain their endless optimism to navigate their world in ways that are equal parts hilarious and delightful.

12. Bluey: The Pool

Bluey fans will love this 24-page board book for a colorful and family-oriented bedtime story. Join Bluey, Bingo, Dad and Bandit, on their trip to the pool. Who knows what could possibly happen? Discover it all in this illustrated picture-book adventure.

Llama Llama Series

Inspired by her own child’s struggles with separation anxiety – particularly at bedtime – Anna Dewdney combined her real-life experience and love for llamas into a series of baby books for girls and boys. While Llama Llama Red Pajama tackles separation anxiety, other books in the series dive into other childhood experiences and themes in a supportive, heartwarming and relatable way. 

13. Llama Llama Red Pajama

A 2016 New York Times best-seller that’s still a national favorite, Dewdney’s book transforms the bedtime routine into an absolute spectacle in this delightful rhyming tale, perfect for a read-aloud session. With this board book version, even the littlest readers can enjoy the captivating rhymes and vibrant illustrations. Children will relate to Baby Llama's desire for comfort, while parents will find solace in Mama Llama's reassuring words.

14. Llama Llama Jingle Bells

The Llama Llama board books are the perfect introduction to the world of Llama Llama for babies and toddlers who aren't yet ready for longer narratives. Crafted with small, sturdy pages, these baby books are ideally suited for little hands. In this festive tale, the young llama and his friends engage in gifting, caroling and cookie decoration, making for a truly merry holiday experience.

15. Llama Llama I Love You

“Beloved storyteller Anna Dewdney shows young children sweet ways to express their love on Valentine's Day and all year round!” This review pretty much nails it in explaining the values found in this heartwarming tale as the little llama expresses his affection towards his friends and family through heart-shaped cards and lots of hugs. 

Award-Winning Baby Books by the Great Mo Willems

From the Elephant & Piggie series to the Knuffle Bunny trilogy, New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems’ extensive collection of baby stories has earned three Caldecott Honors, two Theodor Seuss Geisel Medals, and five Geisel Honors. His credo, “I always think of my audience, but never think for my audience,” guides his work and brings a genuine feel to his books.

16. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

It’s been more than 20 years since Willems introduced his Pigeon character to the world. His debut picture book is still delighting parents as one of the best books for babies and toddlers. When the bus driver needs a break, a persuasive pigeon tries to come to the rescue and lots of pleading and cajoling ensue. Dive into this engaging narrative with kids as they try to determine the pigeon's destiny. 

17. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale

A recipient of the 2005 Caldecott Honor, this tale follows Trixie, Daddy, and Knuffle Bunny as they embark on a journey to the local laundromat. The fun takes a turn when Trixie discovers that someone was left behind. With an ingenious blend of subdued black-and-white photos and lively illustrations, this exceptional baby book is a relatable, humorous, and chaotic tale of what transpires when Dad is in command and everything falls apart.

18. An Elephant & Piggie Biggie-Biggie!, Volume 2

The Elephant & Piggie series has earned five Geisel Honors, and this box set of five of those treasured titles captures the best of the Gerald and Piggie. From I Am Going! to Listen to My Trumpet!, follow the tales of these best friends as they go through five life adventures with their opposing, equally entertaining attitudes.

Tertulia Picks

We couldn’t stop at the recommendations above. Here are some of our team’s favorite books for babies and kids you can bring to your next shower.

19. Indestructibles Series by Amy Pixton

This series of baby stories are designed for how infants “read” – with their hands and mouths first. The brainchild of Amy Pixton, a mother of triplets, the Indestructibles came to be when Pixton saw how traditional board books ended up in her babies' mouths. These portable, lightweight and safe-for-baby books meet safety standards and are loved by both babies and parents for their ultra-durable, tight-woven and waterproof material. 

20. Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison

Dream Big, Little One is a compelling board book derived from the instant bestseller, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. This beautifully illustrated title illuminates the inspiring tales of 18 Black women who made history shaping the world for future generations. Gifting this book is not just about sharing history, but also about inspiring the next generation to be bold, brave and unyielding in the face of adversity – making it an invaluable addition to any baby's starting library.

21. The Making of Butterflies by Zora Neale Hurston

A collaborative work from illustrator Kah Yangni, New York Times bestselling-author Ibram X. Kendi, and acclaimed novelist Zora Neale Hurston, The Making of Butterflies presents an enchanting re-imagination of the origin of butterflies. In this tale, the Creator, having completed making the world, takes an extraordinary flight through the sky, crafting butterflies of every imaginable color, shape and size. This engaging and sizable board book sparks young readers’ curiosity about the natural world's wonders.

22. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

There’s no denying it: This is a book that will make any parent cry. Since its debut in 1986, Love You Forever has sold over 36 million copies and this nostalgic novel continues to inspire deep feelings. “I'll love you forever/I'll like you for always/As long as I'm living/My baby you'll be.” We’re already tearing up. 

Make it a memorable shower with the Best Baby Books 

Gifting a book at a baby shower is an exceptional way to welcome a new baby, providing parents with memorable bedtime stories, enriching a child's early learning, and creating cherished keepsakes. From classic tales to contemporary delights, this curated selection of baby books guarantees a cherished addition to every starter bookshelf.

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