Best books for new parents

Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

It’s never too early for parents to start reading out loud to that new bundle of joy they’ve just brought into the world. Books strengthen the parent-child bond, lay the foundations for children’s language and literacy skills, and help establish routines – plus it’s something both parties can enjoy. That is, provided you have a good library of stories.

So, we’ve compiled a list of books that are perfect for reading between feeding, napping, changing and all the mayhem that comes with being a new parent.

My First Book: a black-and-white cloth book (2020)

We’ve all heard the myth that dogs see the world in black and white. But did you know that newborn babies can only see black, white and grey in their first three months of life? Part of the Baby Touch series, this book has been specially created with only monochrome illustrations to help little babes focus their attention and to help their eyesight develop. Which is essential, of course, if you want them to realise early on who their favourite aunt/uncle/grandparent/godparent is. Plus, this book is made from padded cloth, so it’s safe for lots of chewing and throwing around. Win-win.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin (2020)

If you’re ok with potentially making new parents even more emotional at storytime, pick up this book. This ridiculously sweet rhyming book explores the infinite possibilities that lie ahead in every baby’s future: "This is the first time / There's ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do." Beautifully illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin, love, kindness and acceptance practically ooze off every page. It’s a heartbreaker in the best way, one to rival Love You Forever. A dramatic reading à la Joey from Friends would not go amiss.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1969)

No bookshelf is complete without this classic board book by Eric Carle. Although it's now 50 years old, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is as vibrant and fun as ever. If you’re a fan, you’ll remember that the story follows a peckish little caterpillar who, over the course of a week, eats his body weight in food. He suffers a bit of a tummy ache (happens to the best of us) before transforming into a beautiful butterfly! Deceptively simple, the story combines all the things babies love: animals, food, and interactive peepholes.

Elmer's Touch and Feel World by David McKee (2016)

Elmer the Elephant is another classic character every little one should be introduced to. Elmer’s Touch and Feel World is a great stepping stone into the world of our favourite patchwork elephant, whose original story about diversity and acceptance is better suited to toddlers and young children (make a note now for future birthdays/Christmases/other celebrations). This fun playbook is packed with stimulating colours, touch-and-feel areas and first concepts. It’s a great one for parents and babies to enjoy together between feeding and napping.

Peepo! by Janet & Allan Ahlberg (1981)

All babies reach that stage where they are endlessly interested in everything – just like the main character in Peepo! Created by children’s picture book powerhouses Janet and Allan Ahlberg, Peepo! follows a day in the life (and through the eyes) of a young baby as he witnesses and interacts with the world around him. A series of peepholes will help lead little readers through the story, and Janet Ahlberg’s delightful illustrations provide a glimpse back in time. Great for parents who are also fans of nostalgia.

Who’s Going to Bed? by Abie Longstaff and Eve Coy (2019)

Who’s going to bed? We hope for any new parent's sanity it’s their baby. But sleepless nights are commonplace. Lend a helping hand with this soothing tale by Abie Longstaff. The story starts with all the residents of the fairy tale land settling down to go to bed. But then a cheeky baby pops up doing what cheeky babies often do – the baby is not going to sleep, and is keeping everyone else up. Luckily, the little rascal is eventually convinced it’s time to nod off. This is a charming bedtime tale that will result in the same happy ending for every exhausted parent.

Peppa Pig: Baby Buggy Book (2017)

There’s a 99% chance that Peppa Pig will make an appearance in every child’s life, whether that’s in TV or book form. We’re certain even those without children know who Peppa is. So, start little ones off early with this adorable buggy book. It’s great for little hands, comes in board book form so won’t be torn easily, and it has a handy clip that can be attached to high chairs, prams or bags.

What did you think of this article? Let us know by emailing editor@penguin.co.uk.

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