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Best Books for Kids
Stories are a vital and special part of growing up, but not all books are created equally. Some stories help children understand the world around them, others play into their sense of wonder, and some are nothing short of sheer joy to read out loud. If you’re not sure what to buy for your baby or infant, we’ve compiled a short guide to the absolute best picture books for kids.
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Adults love this classic fable about the perils of overeating and the nourishing fulfillment of healthy green food. Kids, on the other hand, love the little finger hole, the display of sweet food and the rhythmic prose of the story. It's also a great book for counting skills. The late Eric Carle actually wrote 75 picture books for kids; other great picks include The Grouchy Ladybug, a simple tale about the importance of manners and kindness, and the Mixed Up Chameleon, the perfect metaphor about belonging, identity and being true to yourself.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Maurice Sendak’s classic tale about a child’s imagination takes Max to a faraway kingdom after being sent to his room. There he becomes king of the beasts, only to return to the safety of his bedroom and a warm dinner. This book is a great bedtime read for kids who love adventure but like to be reminded of the safety of home. In the Night Garden is another of Sendak’s brilliant titles; it's a delectable doughy story that takes place in a dreamland bakery. Both books feature the author’s sumptuous illustrations.
Zog by Julia Donaldson
The UK’s most famous contemporary picture book writer, every story by Julia Donadlson is as delightful to read as it is to listen to. In Zog, we meet a plucky princess who won’t be told what to wear or how to act as she fulfills her dream of becoming a doctor. Throw in some dragons and knights, and you have the ideal modern fairy tale. Kids adore all Julia Donaldson books, but particular highlights from her portfolio include Tiddler, Stickman, Smartest Giant in Town and Gruffalo, the book that shot her to fame.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
We’re still a long way from seeing everyone properly represented in kid’s books, especially people of color. For many children, this means they simply don’t feel like they see themselves in stories, and this needs to change. The Snowy Day was published in 1962, so for many years it was just one of a small number of U.S. picture books with a black protagonist. It’s a true classic, however, and one that should be on every child’s bookshelf. It features a young boy called Peter who is enjoying the wonder of the snow that has fallen in his Brooklyn neighborhood.
Hug by Jez Alborough
Proving that not all stories need long sentences, the heartwarming Hug features just one word, “hug”. It’s the tale of a monkey called Bobo who is looking for a hug, but as we discover, all he really needs is his mom. The lack of words allows you and your child to create your own interpretation of the story.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Another classic from across the pond, it’s now as much loved in the U.S. as it has been in the UK for decades. A family of five, plus a dog, head out for a typical Sunday walk, facing mud, snow, wind and rain before they actually do encounter a bear! The joy of the book lies in its sing-song prose, with lines you’ll find yourself singing to yourself on every walk ever after.
Reading tips for babies and infants
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, and whatever you do read, be sure to make it a daily event. There are not many more important events in a child’s day than story time. Books can be enjoyed throughout the day but are particularly great post-bath, along with a bedtime cuddle. Keep a good selection of books nearby at all times, remembering to update it regularly as they grow. However, you will notice that it doesn’t matter how many new books you buy; true classics will always be in favor.
From a snowy New York to a make-believe land of wild monsters via a joyous blustery walk, these classic children’s picture books are the ideal choice for story time with your little one.