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Nine Categories of Books That Should Be in Every Baby’s Library

Kanye West reads to North West
Kanye West reads to North West. Courtesy of Kim Kardashian/Instagram

In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines stating that parents should read aloud to their infants every day. Benefits of reading to your children include exposing them to language and preparing them to read on their own in the future, as well as helping you bond with your baby. But when it comes to building a library of books for your infant, it can be hard to know where to start. Karen Ginman, youth collections librarian in the New York Public Library’s selection office, says there are nine categories of books every child needs in his or her library. Read on to find out what they are — plus her recommendations for titles in each group. But, as Ginman points out, “a child’s favorite book will be the one that you read them.”

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All About Me Books These books teach babies about what bodies can do and about the routine of the day. Some of Ginman’s favorites in this category include The Babies and Doggies Book, by John Schindel and Molly Woodward; Global Baby Bedtimes, by Maya Ajmera; Time for Bed, by Petr Horácek; Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox, and Baby Love: A Board Book gift set, by Helen Oxenbury.

Books That Move “I think story time should be a wild, loud, fun, energetic time, whether you’re at home or at the library,” says Ginman. Which is why this category of books, which feature moving and interactive parts, is so perfect to read to little ones. Good examples include This Is Not a Book, by Jean Julien; Butterfly, Butterfly, by Petr Horacek; Bizzy Bear Series, by Nosy Crow; Can You Say it Too? Hoot! Hoot! by Nosy Crow, and Around the World: A Follow-the-Trail Book, by Katie Haworth.

Sing Out Loud Books “These books feature songs and rhymes and are favorites for lots of parents,” says Ginman. Her recommendations in this category include Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.; What’s a Banana? by Marilyn Singer; Down by the Station, by Jennifer Riggs Vetter; The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal; Old MacDonald Had A Truck, by Steve Goetz, and Row Row Row Your Boat, by Jane Cabrera.

Building-Block Concepts Books This group of books teaches numbers, shapes, colors, time and opposites, says Ginman. Titles she recommends in this category include: Hoot: A Hide-and-Seek Book of Counting, by Jonathan Litton; Green Is a Chili Pepper, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, and Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal.

Celebration Books Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or really love Easter or Thanksgiving, it’s fun to pass a tradition onto your child. Ginman, who is a fan of Halloween, loves reading If You’re Spooky and You Know It, by Aly Fronis, and Boo! by Leslie Patricelli to her 19-month-old son.

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Britney Spears with her kids Courtesy of Britney Spears/Instagram

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Multilingual Books Young kids are like sponges, so “any time you can expose a child to another language is great,” says Ginman. Some books to check out in this category: Chat Le Chat Qui Va La? by Mo Willems; Little Roja Riding Hood, by Susan Middleton Elya; Mes Premier Mots Avec Mes Amis, by gouly gouly, and My First Bilingual Book — Animals, Vegetables, Fruits, by Milet Publishing.

Nature Books Covering weather, animals and seasons, these books teach babies about life outside. Ginman’s suggestions for this category include Leap, Frog, Leap! by Douglas Florian; Colors, by Marie Vendittelli; Numbers (Picture This), by Judith Nouvion; The Busy Little Squirrel, by Nancy Tafuri; Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, by Kenard Pak, and A Surprise for Tiny Mouse, by Petr Horácek.

Story Books “These kinds of books, which are a little longer, are great because you can read them to a baby or to a 2-year-old,” says Ginman, who calls them “and then” books. A few she recommends: Thunderboy Jr., by Sherman Alexie; Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena; Looking for Bongo, by Eric Velasquez; Dim Sum for Everyone, by Grace Lin; Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood, and Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty.

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Transportation Books From cars and trucks to boats and subways, kids are always fascinated with things that go. These books explore just that. Ginman suggests reading Whose Truck? (Whose Tools?), by Toni Buzzeo; Oops, Pounce, Quick Run! by Mike Twohy; Fire Engine No. 9, by Mike Austin, and My Car Board Book Board, by Byron Barton

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