18 of the Best Baby Books of 2021

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Summer Loomis


Summer Loomis has been writing for Book Riot since 2019. She obsessively curates her library holds and somehow still manages to borrow too many books at once. She appreciates a good deadline and likes knowing if 164 other people are waiting for the same title. It's good peer pressure! She doesn't have a podcast but if she did, she hopes it would sound like Buddhability. The world could always use more people creating value with their lives everyday.

There are a lot of reasons you might search for the best new baby books in 2021. Maybe your family is expanding soon or you’re going to a baby shower and want to find the perfect new book. Extra points if you’re preparing for a book shower! Or perhaps you’re in charge of a budget and need to find good titles for a collection. Whatever the reason, this list of new baby books for 2021 is for you.

Count to Love baby book cover

Count to Love by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

This little counting book is adorable. It’s from Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, both excellent artists in their own rights. If you like this, you might be interested in checking out Bright Brown Baby or Andrea Davis Pinkney’s A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson.

My Heart Beats cover

My Heart Beats by Rina Singh

Different languages have different ways of expressing the sound the heart makes. This book uses the sounds from several languages including Korean, Urdu, and French (in addition to English) to highlight that we all have different ways to name the same thing — a heartbeat of love.

The Night is Deep and Wide cover

The Night is Deep and Wide by Gillian Sze and Sue Todd

The illustrations in this book are what really made me stop and take notice. They look like woodcut prints and they have a very distinct style compared to other baby board books. The text is also a soothing bedtime reading. If you like the cover, you should check this book out.

Love in the Wild cover

Love in the Wild by Katy Tanis

Tanis spent time researching love among wild animals and this book is the product of that research. She originally painted the image on the cover for a trans family member and then decided to share it as part of this book. If you are looking for a colorful and inclusive title, this may be a good choice.

Baby Young Gifted and Black cover

Baby Young, Gifted and Black: With a Mirror! by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins

This is a collection of affirmations inspired by Black excellence, so Black and brown babies can see themselves in their reading, with lovely illustrations and a mirror at the end too. It has statements like “I am a leader like the Obamas,” “I love to move my body like Misty Copeland” and “I use my imagination like Zadie Smith.” As an aside, if you don’t know Zadie Smith’s writing, we have a reading pathway to help with that.

How are you Feeling cover

How Are You Feeling? by Mudpuppy and Erin Jang

This is a good way to get babies exposed to the range of emotions that humans experience, with strong and vibrant graphics to go with each one. This is also a lift-the-flap kind of book, which will let little ones get in on the excitement of reading with you.

Woodland Dance cover

Woodland Dance by Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton has written lots of popular children’s titles like Hippos Go Beserk and The Going to Bed Book, so this is likely to be a good book for many families. I know people with adult children who still remember their child’s favorite Boynton book to this day, so if her style appeals to you, you should probably get at least one of her books if not more.

B is for Baby cover

B is for Baby by Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank

One of the best new baby books of 2021, this book has beautiful illustrations and contains a lot of words that start with b, including bougainvillea and bungalow (along with ones you might expect more like banana and brother). It has a village setting and repeats all of the words again toward the end of the book, so this is also good for reinforcement. If you like this, you should try other books by Atinuke like Anna Hibiscus.

My Magical Forest cover

My Magical Forest by Campbell Books and Yujin Shin

This is a book that has little flaps and things that the little ones can play with. It has cute illustrations and, as one would expect in a magical forest, a lot of creatures including of course a unicorn and fairies. If you like this, you may want to look at Yujin Shin’s other books My Magical Mermaid and My Magical Unicorn.

Along the Riverbank cover

Discovering the World of Nature Along the Riverbank by Petra Bartíková and Marcel Králik

This book is meant to educate little ones about all the animals and other life on, along, or under the water in a river. It has detailed illustrations, small facts that little readers can enjoy, and small flaps to move. Perfect for readers who want a bit more information from their board books and has the potential to grow with little readers as they get bigger.

Follow Your Dreams Little one cover

Follow Your Dreams, Little One by Vashti Harrison

This one was technically published late in 2020, but I include it in case you missed it. Given the kind of year it was, this title may not have received the attention it deserved so I include it here for your consideration. This one also features famous Black role models to inspire kids of all backgrounds. If you like this, you should check out more of Harrison’s work, which you may recognize from her other books like Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World or from her illustrations for Lupita Nyong’o’s Sulwe.

Bubbles cover

Bubbles by Ben Clanton

If you’re looking for a best baby book of 2021 with a narwhal (and who isn’t), then this title is for you. It’s the endearing creation of Ben Clanton and features both a narwhal and a jelly fish. He also has another title in this series, Blankie, if you like this one.

Curls cover baby board book

Curls by Ruth Forman and Geneva Bowers

This is a book meant to celebrate Black girls and curly hair. The author wrote this after finding that her daughter was already expressing negative views about her hair and appearance at the tender age of 3 or 4. After searching children’s literature for some books to show her daughter, she found that there was still a severe lack of diverse titles. So she created one. In addition to this book, you should take a look at Glow, which is also written by Ruth Forman and illustrated by Geneva Bowers to celebrate Black boys.

Paper peek alphabet baby board book

Paper Peek: Alphabet by Chihiro Takeuchi

This is a beautiful book to help little ones learn their first letters. Each picture has a cut out shape. Then you or the little ones can find other animals or objects that become clear after you turn the cut-out page. If you like this style, you should also see her other books in the same series, Paper Peek Colors and Paper Peek Animals.

A Busy Year cover

A Busy Year by Leo Lionni

This book was originally published some years ago and is being reprinted as a board book in 2021. While the original story may not be new, it is good to have it in a more sturdy format so I add it here for your consideration. I love Leo Lionni’s other titles, not only for their unusual stories, but also for their striking collage illustrations. If you like this, you may want to check out some of his other titles like Swimmy or Matthew’s Dream.

Festival of Colors cover

Festival of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal, Kabir Sehgal, and Vashti Harrison

One of the best new baby books of 2021, this book tells little readers about Holi and, as you would expect, it includes a lot of different, vibrant colors. It is both helpful for learning about the festival and also helpful for learning some colors as they are singled out in some of the text. If you like this title, you may want to check out Sehgal’s A Bucket of Blessings.

Who Was Celia Cruz board book cover

Who was Celia Cruz? by Lisbeth Kaiser and Stanley Chow

This book will introduce little ones to the famous Cuban singer and performer Celia Cruz. And since this is a book in a series, you can also get titles like Who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg? or Who was Jackie Robinson? in board book form.

Animals cover

Animals by Motomitsu Maehara

This is a multilingual board book that may appeal to anyone who uses these six languages at home or would like to introduce them to their little ones. The collage illustrations also make the visuals very memorable and appealing for children and adults alike. If you like this, Maehara has two other books in this same series called Plants and Ocean Animals.

And that’s my list for the best new baby books of 2021. If you’re still looking for more, you might try this list of 50 must-read board books. And if you need inspiration for what to write in a baby shower book, this post can help.