Build a Bookstore: Books for Babies and Toddlers

Alison Morris - December 4, 2008

We’re in the final stretch of "Build a Bookstore" week, having already suggested must-have books for young adults, the middle grade set, and the picture book crowd. Today we address books for the littlest ones. Tomorrow we weigh in on books for the biggest ones (i.e. adults).

Name up to FIVE books for infants and toddlers (board books, picture books, bath books, cloth books, funky novelty-type books) that you think no self-respecting bookstore should be without! Yes, you can repeat others’ suggestions. No, you can’t mention your OWN books, unless your name is Margaret Wise Brown (which it’s not) or Eric Carle or… you get the idea.

To get the ball rolling, I will now list FIVE books for babies and/or toddlers that I think no store should be without. (Drum roll, please…)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (board book especially) by Eric Carle
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells
Good Night, Gorilla (board book especially) by Peggy Rathmann
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry

No doubt you’ve noticed one GLARING omission from my list: Goodnight Moon. I think this book is so beyond "required" for bookstores that it almost qualifies more as a fixture than an actual book. In fact, I think it should just come WITH the shelving that a store orders, if that store plans on carrying any children’s books. For that reason (read: it’s just TOO obvious) I left it off my list. 

That does not mean, however, that you must leave it off yours. Up to five books for babies and toddlers… go!

28 thoughts on “Build a Bookstore: Books for Babies and Toddlers

  1. Melissa

    Goodnight Gorilla, Please Baby Please, Please Puppy Please, (If you are unaware of these two books please check them out. They are fantastic. Both by Spike Lee and tonya lewis lee), anything David Shannon, Kisses By Nanda Roep &

  2. Danielle

    I agree with The Hungry Caterpillar. I have three children, now past toddlerhood, and they all loved these books – Brown Bear, Brown, Bear, Runaway Bunny, Waves in the Bathtub (not on many parents’ list, which is a shame because my kids LOVED this book.) Richard Scarry did not interest them.

  3. tim b

    Byron Barton. As many as you can get. Can’t go wrong. No escaping GOOD NIGHT, MOON (and what bookseller would be crazy enough to pass on that income stream?). FOX IN SOX; ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH. The late Fred Marcellino’s STORY OF LITTLE BABAJI.

  4. Joyce Stengel

    Janet Lawler’s If Kisses Were Colors is my granddaughters must read for bedtime. When it’s story time, she says, “Kisses,” and toddles over to find the book. Because she loves it so much, I have sent it to new mothers who tell me their little ones love it, too. I\

  5. DM

    New classics that my 21 months olds cannot get enough of: Duck and Goose board books and Gossie/Ollie/Boo Boo board books. A classic that they actually fight over: I am a Bunny (R. Scarry).

  6. Kristen McLean

    After having a baby, what I consider essential for youngest readers has totally changed based on actual experience. Many of our beloved classics are not right for the very youngest readers. Here are my favorites for birth-6mo specifically: I Kissed the Baby (Murphy), Black & White (Hoban), Brown, Bear, Brown Bear (Martin/Carle), Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth series by Priddy), Baby Talk (DK Fun Flaps). BTW DK makes a whole bunch of great single flap Board Books for babies under the “Fun Flaps” and “Peekaboo” series’ that are packed with faces and familiar objects. Not fancy, but bright, fun and totally compelling for getting kids interested in books. Babies can flip these flaps from a very early age, which let’s them participate in reading right away. My own kid has literally read/flipped through a bunch of these books so much that I can’t repair them anymore because there’s no place left to tape. She LOVES them.

  7. katie

    I love this idea! As a librarian and the mama of a toddler, this is a no-brainer! Good Night, Gorilla (Rathman) – Clip Clop (Smee) – V. Hungry Caterpiller (Carle) – The Going to Bed Book (Boynton)- and our new favorite Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime (Shea).

  8. Mary

    Brian Wildsmiths board books by Brian Wildsmith, For those of you that want real pictures – Where’s the Baby?, Where’s the Kitten, Where Does it Go?, What Happens Next?

  9. bookseller Jane

    Board books are the best – especially the new “lap” editions! In that area, I’d suggest The Napping House by Wood, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Carle, To Market, To Market illustrated by Stevens. In addition, I’d have to add Baby Faces by DK Publishing and Barnyard Dance by Boynton.

  10. Libby Jane

    Speaking of good photographs of real children—I LOVE Global Babies, from Global Fund for Children. A fantastic multi-cultural baby-face book….Also Ten Little Toes and Barnyard Dance.

  11. Samantha

    Gallop! (Seder), The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Potter), Goodnight Moon (Brown) The problem with naming these are they can come in board books or picture books, but just know I’m thinking of them as board books.

  12. mommyreader

    Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins, Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, The Little Mouse,the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Very Hungry Bear by Don Wood, Moo Baa LaLaLa by Sandra Boynton, Mr. Brown Can Moo by Dr. Seuss

  13. Seymour's Mom

    I feel like I’m cheating by not listing Goodnight Moon, but I’ll take my cue from Fearless Leader! OK, here goes: Good Night, Gorilla board book; Very Hungry Caterpillar board book; Jamberry board book; something by Matthew van Fleet; something by Tana Hoban. (Fudging a little there… revolving titles anyone?)

  14. book buyer

    As someone who always buys books for new babies I want to see board books with good photographs of real children. It frustrates me to see shelves full of board books of licensed characters and products.


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