Research shows that if you start reading books with your child while they’re still in early infancy, it can boost their vocabulary and reading skills later on — before they even start elementary school. The problem with ‘best of’ books lists is they’re all the same. Here at Literati, a try-before-you-buy book club for kids, we think many great books get missed; books that crush more famous books when we put them in front of the best critics — babies themselves. Here’s our pick of the best of them. And there’s no Goodnight Moon in sight.
Color Me: Who’s In the Pond? by Surya Sujnani
We were mesmerized watching the black and white pages magically transform into vivid color as we covered them with water. With first-rate drawings of familiar animals, this squeezable and lightweight book (which Literati sent out as part of its Magic Doors & Secret Passageways theme in December) definitely brings the bath time joy — so much so you may never get your Neo out of the tub…
Technicolor Treasure Hunt by Hvass and Hannibal
This tabbed, rainbow wonder is one your littlun can grow alongside. Its vibrant design and chipper illustrations offer lessons in both object identification as well as counting. Seek, find and learn 70-plus new words through the lens of color. It was the most-kept book in Literati’s Club Neo (newborn through 3) for its The Animal Kingdom theme.
Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins
Baby Woodpecker has so much fun learning to peck, he doesn’t know when to stop. With “peck” holes in the pages, and lots of opportunities to name and count things, this vibrant and engaging story is sure to delight your littlun. They’ll love the unbridled joy Baby Woodpecker gets from learning something new with the help of his hero, Papa Woodpecker. Peck Peck Peck was fulfilled as part of Literati’s ‘Heroes’ theme in November and proved to be our members’ most-kept book that month.
Hello, World! Solar System by Jill McDonald
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….Blast off!!! Get groovy with our solar system and introduce your little one to the wonders of space with this colorful board book full of shapes, simple facts, and useful prompts that invite interaction. Hello, World! was our Club Neo members’ most-kept book for The Sprit of Adventure theme.
Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli
Physicality is paramount to learning. Interacting with tangible objects helps make concepts more clear. Author Franceschelli (who is also a seasoned publisher and editor) is a master here, and Alphablock, which was fulfilled by Literati as part of its The Sleuths theme, is his best in the series. With huge block letters introducing the alphabet, your own Neo will delight in the retro illustrations and guessing game behind each letter. Cookie, anyone?
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
Every book requires a turn of the page, but not every book demands a jiggle, a tap and a kiss. This lonely bare tree (the star of Tap the Magic Tree) sits waiting for you to make it come alive. It’s a brilliant interactive board book that offers explorations of color, seasons, ecology and counting. (The metaphor for the power of love and attention is not lost on us either). Jenny Davis, mom of Asher, a keen member of Literati’s Club Neo, told us it was a “fun, interactive book which Asher could participate in while she read along” and which could “teach kids about transformation and cause-and-effect.”
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
This Seussian classic is 20 years old, and there’s a reason it’s still in print. The association of color with emotion is a growing field of research as it can affect how humans process their environment. Through the interplay of color and feelings, Dr. Seuss helps little ones learn how to navigate their developing emotions. This was the second most-kept book in Literati’s In My Heart theme.
My Little Sound Book: Musical Instruments by Amandine Notaert
An investment in noise you don’t hate. Enter, Musical Instruments! This little-known book, with instrumental solos featuring piano, guitar, flute, drum, and violin crushes its best-selling competitors in every regard. Who says you can’t learn new words while you boogie down to a Spanish guitar?
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee
This Caldecott Honor picture book (the most-kept book for Literati’s The Earth Speaks theme) begins with two children playing on a beach, and takes you on a profound journey, from morning to night, as they interact with their family, dig for vegetables, climb trees, eat meals, and have fun with their friends. The message? All the world is right there, where you are, for you to enjoy.
Little Helpers by iKids
Misfit, you ask? Literati had been dying to curate this cheerful primer on the interconnectedness of people and the natural world but couldn’t fit it in past themes. So we decided to do one all about Misfits. Little Helpers features sweet drawings plus cause-and-effect storytelling that show your little one being small and making a big difference in the world are a perfect match. This was our second most-kept book that month.
You’re My Little Cuddle Bug by Nicola Edwards and Nathalie Marshal
There are a handful of board books you’ll inevitably want to keep forever as they’ll bring back memories of some of the earliest times reading with your child. But only the really good ones survive the cull and we think this just-published paean to little ones (the most-kept book in Literati’s Club Neo for our In My Heart theme) is destined to join the classics.