Baby’s First Book (Usborne cloth book)
By Fiona Watt, illustrated by Stacey Lamb, published by Usborne, RRP £9.99
What’s the story: These books provide ten pages of delightfully bright colours, flaps and touchy feely patches for babies to explore. The boys’ design features tractors, sail boats, dinosaurs, dogs and rocket ships, while the girls’ has tweeting birds, flowers, rainbows, bunnies and butterflies. Different pages, rattle, squeak and crinkle too!
Why we love it: Cloth books are perfect for tiny babies. More durable than paper, these Usborne books can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
First published: 2008
That’s Not My…
By Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells, published by Usborne, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: A tiny white mouse searches for her lost puppy, dragon, frog, robot… in these touchy-feely books. Every page features an interesting texture to feel such as bumpy teeth, fluffy ears or shiny paws. On the very last page the right item is finally found. There are 33 titles in the series, so you’ll no doubt end up with a few of them, depending on whether your child likes dolls or dinosaurs, teddies or tigers.
Why we love it: These chunky board books are strong enough to withstand the inevitable page corner chewing. Parents and babies will love the bold, bright and simple drawings along with the different textures on each page which aims to develop sensory and language development.
First Published: 1999 (That’s Not My Puppy was first in the series)
I Love My Mummy
By Giles Andrae, illustrated by Emma Dodd, published by Orchard Books, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: ‘I love my mummy very much. She’s great to cuddle, soft to touch.’ How can any new mum resist this book which tells of the tender relationship between a mother and child through a witty and touching rhyming text from the same wonderful author of such fantastic titles as Commotion in the Ocean and Rumble in the Jungle.
Why we love it: It won the 2010 Family Award for Best Book for Babies under One Year Old. Emma Dodd’s vibrant and touching artwork captures a child’s attention and displays the warm relationship between a parent and child, which will melt your heart. ‘I Love My Daddy’ is also now available at £10.99.
First published: 2010
By Rod Campbell, published by Puffin, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: How do you find the right pet for you? Ask the Zoo of course! That’s what the child narrator in Dear Zoo does. However, the Zoo keeps sending animals which are not quite suitable – an elephant is too heavy, a giraffe is too tall, a frog is too jumpy – and they’re sent back immediately. Each page contains a flap designed to look like a different form of packaging hiding an animal that’s been sent. At long last the perfect pet is delivered – a puppy!
Why we love it: Lift-the-flap books have a short life span with young ones, but the joy they bring during that time can still be enormous. If you’re going to choose a lift-the-flap book then this is the one to go for. Since it was first published everyone that had a copy as a child remembers the fun they had revealing the animals.
First published: 1982
I kissed the Baby
By Mary Murphy, published by Walker, RRP £4.99
What’s the story: ‘“I saw the new baby! Did you see the new baby?’ ‘Yes! I saw the new baby; the teeny weeny thing.’ ‘I tickled the baby! Did you tickle the baby?’ ‘Yes! I tickled the baby; the wriggly, giggly thing!’” All the animals in the barn are overjoyed about the new baby and it’s all they can talk about. The very last page reveals a flappy yellow duckling that shouts ‘quackie!’ after getting a great big kiss from its Mummy.
Why we love it: The rhythmic repetition in the text is like singing which little ones love. Also, when there is tickling, and kissing in the book you can then do this with your baby, which is really good fun for both of you. While the bright yellow duckling appears on the last couple of pages, the pictures are primarily black and white which helps to give babies a clearer focus.
First published: 2003
By Janet and Allan Ahlberg, published by Puffin, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: It’s been 30 years since this book has been published, and it’s not hard to see why this book has never been out of print since it first appeared. This truly is one of the best books ever published for babies. Peep through the holes of Peepo and see what baby sees, then turn the page for the whole scene – a cosy kitchen, a visit to the park, the soft light at bedtime. Set in the Forties, and based on Allan Ahlberg’s own childhood, this is a charming book that will live on in the minds of parents and children for years to come.
Why we love it: Playing the ‘peepo’ game is such a simple idea but makes for an appealing picture book. No nursery bookshelf can do without a copy.
First published: 1981
Oscar’s Half Birthday
By Bob Graham, published by Walker, RRP £5.99
What’s the story: The day Oscar turns six months old, Mum, Dad and sister Millie decide to celebrate. While Millie dons on a pair of coat-hanger fairy wings and a dinosaur hand puppet, Mum and Dan pack tuna sandwiches and a chocolate cake with half a candle, then off across the city for a picnic on Bellevue Hill. Once there, all the other people in the park join in for a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ in this warm, gentle story of a family celebration.
Why we love it: Many a half birthday will be celebrated after reading this book. With his jaunty watercolours full of charming surprises and a gently humorous text, Graham creates an endearing, unconventional family that readers will be glad to have met. Oscar and his family live in a high rise felt where the lift is covered in graffiti – not the idyllic setting that dominates so many children’s books. That doesn’t take away any of the happiness from the characters. Their just a normal family with lots of joy in their lives.
First published: 2005
By Ed Vere, published by Puffin, RRP £7.99
What’s the story: It’s time for Chick to meet the world! He peeps, he cheeps, he eats, and at the very end, he sleeps under Mummy’s wing. The colours are all robust and seems to shout at each other. When Chick first cheeps he makes a speech bubble that’s bigger than himself!
Why we love it: As pop-ups go this doesn’t have the intricate engineering that some books have but it’s all the better for that. Everything, from the block coloured pages to the ‘crick crack crickety’ text makes this a book that both babies and adults will love. It really is a simple work but also a story in its own right. Look out for the ‘poop’ page!
First published: 2009
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
By Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, published by Walker, RRP £6.99
What’s the story: Nothing is sweeter, as everyone knows, than tiny baby fingers and chubby baby toes! All over the world, babies are different. Yet in some ways they are very much the same: each one has ten little fingers and ten little toes – to play with, to tickle, to wave. And each child is very, very special to its parents.
Why we love it: This book is one to treasure and will fast become the essential book for baby playtime. A perfect gift for a new arrival, it’s available in hardback, paperback and as a board book.
First published: 2008
In the Bath
By Leslie Patricelli, published by Walker, RRP £4.99
What’s the story: What’s more fun than getting dirty? Having a bath! In this beautifully illustrated board book, follow the journey of a very cute baby from getting butt-naked and jumping in the bath to being sparkly clean with the pet dog with muddy footprints just around the corner….
Why we love it: The simple text, ‘I count my ducks…I count my toes…I wash all around my tummy button’ introduces the pleasures and splashy moments that a baby bath time provides. Parents will be familiar with the routine of trying to clothe a post-bath wriggling baby and the task of drying up the bathroom on hands and knees.
First published: 2011