TODDLERS

24 Books Your Nursery Needs

February 12, 2020

written by: Lo Mansfield, MSN, RN

I’m Lo.
The nitty gritty - because I've been there. The middle of the night Googling - I get it. The answers to questions you didn't even know you had - I've got you.
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It took about three seconds of being pregnant to realize the world of all things baby had an immediate ability to be incredibly overwhelming (and paralyzing). Small decisions suddenly felt like BIG decisions; I’m pretty sure I spent way too much time walking around wondering if whether or not my baby slept on organic sheets was going to determine their eligibility for college someday (psst – it won’t). I got over it eventually, as I believe (and hope) most mamas do. Parenthood is quick to show you that you aren’t really in charge of much.

If there was (and is) one place where making decisions about baby purchases felt easy, it was with books. I quickly fell into the camp of parents who believe reading to your children (a lot) matters and I happily began purchasing or requesting all the books in the hopes of raising readers.

After reading my way through three little lives, I have found that both my girls (and now hopefully my son) and I have developed some favorites. To some degree, they are listed in a chronological, younger to older-aged order. These titles will likely be well loved by your littles (or other littles you love) as well.

24 BOOKS YOUR WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE

Everywhere Babies: The sweetest story of all of the babies we love, all the reasons we love them, and all of the things they can do that are different (and still so beautiful and good).

Happy In Our Skin: I actually appreciate that this is specifically about skin and doesn’t feel the need to dig deeper. Our tiny children are visual little learners from our early age – so let’s talk about one of the things they see first – skin color – and then allow those conversations to move and grow (and read more books).

I Love You Through and Through: I actually had never heard of this book until it was gifted to my first daughter. It marches its way through a child’s body, which is a favorite feature for me when littles are in that sweet stage of learning where their fingers and their toes are.

On the Night You Were Born: You’re probably going to find this book on a lot of “bests” lists and there is a good reason for it. Three years later, I continue to tear up every time I read it. The artwork is also gorgeous – I frequently think that I should find prints and hang them in the girls’ spaces. Nancy Tillman has multiple books, and really, every single one of them that I’ve had the privilege of reading is absolutely beautiful.

Steam Train, Dream Train: This book brought so much joy to my oldest so quickly.  The story rhymes, which is another favorite feature for me, especially in the earlier months. It also touches on colors, which I appreciate as those early months are also spent learning those.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Another classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar has great art and a sweet story. My little girls always love the interior pages, as they are easy for little fingers to turn (points for the development of fine motor skills!).

Giraffes Can’t Dance: There’s a reason this is a favorite of many. The message is important (and it rhymes), the art is colorful and engaging, and there’s something about Gerald that is just so endearing that you can’t help but cheer for him. If your family occasionally acts out books like ours does, this one is a winner.

We’re Different, We’re the Same: An easy to follow book that clarifies what often feels like a far too complicated message. We’re more the same than different – and all of us is good.

Snuggle Puppy: It quickly became clear that my husband couldn’t resist a good sing-a-long book. I think it’s true to say that we love all of Sandra Boynton’s books, but this one burrowed into all of our hearts instantly and we now sing it nearly every night as part of our bedtime routine.

Little Blue Truck: This one likely comes as no surprise either. But, much like Giraffes Can’t Dance, it’s just hard to not love this book. If your family gets the sweet privilege of reading together, this one is so much fun for parents to read together, as there are just so many voices and sounds the reader(s) can share. 

10 Little Fingers, 10 Little Toes: We didn’t hear about this book until Quinn was born, but I’m so glad we did. It’s never too early to teach your little one that though we may look different, there’s much more about us that is the same. I love the premise of the book, that regardless of what a baby looks like, they’ve all got 10 sweet fingers and toes.

From Head to Toe: Though Eric Carle is perhaps better known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, we have loved this book. The artwork, as always, is exceptional, and the story is extremely interactive, including body parts, colors, and exercises with language. Both my three year old and my 17 month old equally love this book. 

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me: This book will always hold a sweet place in our heart, as we used it to announce our first pregnancy. It’s been fun to watch both my girls love it – their tiny fingers love the foldouts and flaps that they can turn and open on their own.

All Are Welcome: There is no question that school should be a safe and inviting place – but it isn’t for many students. I love that this book strives to show that school is place for ALL of us to feel loved, accepted, and valuable.

An Alphabet: Jeffer’s art is a favorite of everyone in our family. It is simple, clean, colorful, and a bit unexpected. While an ABC book usually feels a little bit “been there, done that,” we loved this one right away for it’s quirky take on the oft-done ABCs.

Ferdinand: Have you read this? I had not until I had kids. And it’s the sweetest classic for a reason. No one gets to tell Ferdinand how to be – and isn’t that a message we all need daily?

Adorabull: You guys. This book will just charm you. That’s it. A sweet little bull finds out that the boy he loves really loves him too. And you can’t help but love it.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be: I just really don’t think you can have enough books that celebrate all the ways for our littles to be uniquely themselves. The artwork in this book is also beautiful!

How to Hide a Lion: My girls ask for this one over and over again. The sweet little friendship between the lion and Iris is so stinking sweet and the artwork is perfect.

I Am Enough: I appreciate how easy it is to segue from reading this book to talking about all of the things that make each of us uniquely beautiful – and needed. A must for girls and boys.

How to Be a Lion: This is one of my absolute favorites. They idea that no one gets to tell us who, what, or how to be is perfection. I love it.

Here We Are: Jeffers and his books have long been a favorite of ours. Jeffers wrote this for his son – and it is absolutely charming in the way he clarifies what we do and don’t need to know about ourselves and our world.

Dear Girl/Dear Boy: Now that we have a little boy, we were so excited to add both of these to our nursery/bedroom. We have long loved Dear Girl (it may make me cry). We’re excited to have Dear Boy for our baby brother too.

What Do You Do With An Idea?: This one came straight from my husband. One of the smartest and kindest men I know, this book perfectly reflects just how much he wants our littles to own, love, and live out their imaginations and their ideas.

In My Heart: Hey guess what? Our littles have a lot of (sometimes unmanageable) feelings. We love how this book marches through so many – AND encourages us to talk about them all too.

There is NOTHING sweeter than catching your little one reading to themselves or to a sibling, cousin, or friend. Watching my girls read to each other and (now) to their baby brother makes this mama’s heart light up.

Happy reading friends. You’ll never regret this time spent together.

xoxo,

Lo

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  1. Melanie Kettle says:

    Great list! Our family enjoys many of those titles as well. A few of our favorite board books are…LMNO Peas by Keith Baker. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault. And possibly my all time favorite to read…Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan.

    • Lo says:

      Oh, yes! We don’t own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom but we’ve checked it out from the library. I’ve never heard of LMNO Peas – I’ll check it out. And we have Little Owl’s Night, but Emme never seemed interested! We’ll have to see about Quinnie. Thanks for adding to the list!
      xoxo, Lo

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About the Author

Lo Mansfield MSN, RNC-OB, is a specialty-certified registered nurse in obstetrics, postpartum, and fetal monitoring who is passionate about families understanding their integral role in their own stories. She is the owner of The Labor Mama and creator of the Your Body, Your Birth courses. She is also a mama of three, a University of Washington graduate (Go Dawgs), and is currently an expat in Haarlem, Netherlands. 

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