If You Give a Newborn a Book…

So you’ve been invited to a baby shower, or your best friend is having a baby, or you are meeting an old friend’s baby for the first time, and you want to buy a book. Great! A book is an excellent idea! But with so many wonderful children’s books out there, where do you even begin with choosing a book? Let this guide help.

If you’re only going to buy one book…

It’s for a baby shower for an acquaintance where you don’t feel the need to buy a large present, or it’s one of the showers where you’re asked to bring a book instead of a card, or it’s just one book as part of a bigger gift bundle. This is the one book I would recommend.

baby sleep booksThe Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

We were given this book as a present from an old friend (who also gave us other things, but this was the sole book), and it was probably the best book we received as a present. Great for reading aloud in terms of rhythm, cadence, plot, characters, and illustrations. So it’s good for when the baby is young that they just like listening to the sound of your voice and when ‘attention span’ isn’t a thing, and then again when they are a bit older and have an attention span long enough to appreciate the story.

If you’re going to buy two books…

It’s a friend’s baby, or someone you know a bit more than just an acquaintance. Or you feel just one book isn’t a sufficient present. So you buy two books. Which two?

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

An Australian classic and rightfully so. This book has excellent rhyme and cadence, an intriguing story, vivid and bright illustrations, and sheep! My toddler loves this book and brings it to us to read often, and we have been reading this to her since she was a tiny baby.

If you’re going to buy three books…

Maybe books are the only present you’re planning on giving this new baby, or you know the parents really love books. Or you think three is a nice, lucky number. If you decide to buy three books for this little one, these are my picks.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis

A gorgeous sweet book about Arctic animals and all the gifts they bring to the new baby. The book is written by an indigenous author and taps into the ideas from that culture about kindness and compassion towards the earth and its inhabitants. I love the message in this book.

If you’re going to buy five books…

Best friend’s baby and you want to spoil them? Or you just like things that are in multiples of five? Or maybe you’re going in on a group present and have been tasked with the responsibility of selecting all five books? I suggest these five.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis

Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison

A nonfiction book about 35 visionary women from around the world, including inventors, artists, and scientists. This is a fabulous book that can tell the new baby that they can be whatever they want to be (especially if it’s a girl you’re buying for, but boys should read this book too).

Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

I’ve written before about the importance of nursery rhymes, and this is an excellent book to get started on nursery rhymes. The rhymes are woven into the story, and it is an immensely fun book to read aloud. A fantastic bedtime book.

If you’re going to buy ten books…

You’re probably related to this baby. Maybe it *is* your baby. Whatever the case, this new baby is lucky enough to have you buy ten books for them! These ten books would be an excellent start for any baby’s library. The books include fiction and nonfiction, new books and older classics, some that rhyme and some that don’t, picture books and board books. They cover topics that I think are important. All are excellent.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk and Alexandria Neonakis

Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison

Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

A fabulous rhyming book with a full host of familiar nursery rhyme characters. You read the text and play ‘I spy’ in the illustrations, and it is such a fantastic book to read with older babies and toddlers. This is another classic for good reason.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes

A gorgeous goodnight book that is poetic and exquisite. Lovely to read aloud and look at, and it’s a book I’ve bought a few times as presents with great success.

Baby Loves Green Energy by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan

I love the entire Baby Loves Science series, so any of them would be great. They take complicated scientific concepts and simplify them to be understood by a toddler. The text is accompanied by bright and cheerful illustrations, and is fun to read and use as a launchpad for discussion with older babies. I picked this book out of all the fantastic ones in the series to include in this list because I think you’re never too young to start learning about climate change.

Just in Case You Want to Fly by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson (8 October 2019)

I am a huge fan of Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson, and especially when they collaborate. This is a beautiful, tender story about the relationship between parent and child and I think it would be perfect for a new parent.

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote so many wonderful children’s books, and it’s hard to pick just one. But for the purposes of welcoming a new life into the world, I don’t think there is a better book than this. I don’t have enough words to express how much I adore this book.


Want more baby book recommendations? We’ve got you covered! Here are 20 Great Board Books for One-Year-Olds and 50 of the Best Books for Baby Showers.