Here is an overview of our top book categories for 6-12 month olds, with links to picks in each section:
Developmental context: 6-12 months
Sturdy cloth or board books featuring basic objects and animals, interesting textures, and/or flaps are all great choices to engage baby and support speech development (both receptive and expressive) at this age. Good night books are important for establishing a regular bedtime routine.
Soft books are nice, especially toward the beginning of this stage, because they don’t have any pointy parts! They also often have built-in interactive features for additional stimulation. Here are a couple of our favorites:
Lamaze’s line of cloth books features a number of titles appropriate for this age range. Peek-A-Boo Forest features bright colors and (surprise) a peek-a-boo theme — each page features a flap that baby can lift to uncover a hidden animal. Interactive features include fun textures, crinkling sounds, and a raised face on the cover.
Another great soft book from Lamaze, the Classic Discovery Book showcases bright colors and a number of interactive features including textures, crinkling sounds, and squeaker, and a rattle. Equipped with a ring that attaches easily to strollers and car seats, it’s a great option for on-the-go.
Basic board books with simple pictures and storylines are great for this age. Here are a few of our top picks:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
The classic book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? follows a chain of animals and explores what each one sees (leading to the next animal). The repetitive format and text appeals greatly to babies, and the gorgeous illustrations will be enough to keep parents entertained. There is also a Brown Bear box set that is also popular, but the other books are quite similar to this one, so our advice is to just get this one.
Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume One by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton, the American cartoonist and humorist, has created a wonderful series of board books for babies and toddlers. They feature her characteristic farm animal characters, fun illustrations, and whimsical rhymes. These are some of the only kids’ books that adults love as much as kids. This first volume includes four of her most popular books: including Moo, Baa, La La La! (which introduces basic animal sounds); Blue Hat, Green Hat (great for introducing both colors and articles of clothing); A to Z; and Doggies. If you like these, Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume II is also well worthwhile.
Animal Sounds by Golden Books
This simple yet wonderful book provides baby’s first introduction to farm animals and the sounds they make (e.g. “The cow says moo-o-o-o-o!”). It’s absolutely perfect for young babies who are just learning to identify animals and associate them with different sounds (great for the beginnings of expressive speech).
At some point, probably somewhere between eight and 10 months, your baby is likely to become obsessed with lift-the-flap and other books with interactive elements. Babies delight in discovering what is hiding behind each flap; flap books are also good for fine motor skill development. Other interactive books captivate baby with touch-and-feel elements, moving parts, etc. Here are a few classics:
Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden
Peek-A Who? delights with peek-a-boo cut-outs and guessing rhymes. Babies never tire of exploring the holes and shrieking with laughter when a new image is revealed! The rhymes (and corresponding illustrations) featured are “peek-a-who” (owl), “peek-a-moo” (cow), “peek-a-boo” (ghost), “peek-a-choo-choo” (train), “peek-a-zoo” (animals), and “peek-a-you” (built-in mirror to reflect the reader’s face).
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
This is a classic lift-the-flap book that has been delighting babies for 30+ years! It chronicles a child’s search for the perfect pet — cycling through a series of animals that are utterly unsuitable (an elephant is too big, the lion is too fierce…) before finally settling on the perfect one (a puppy dog). Great concept, well executed, and fantastic for developing fine motor skills.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book by Karen Katz
This is the quintessential flap book by favorite children’s author Karen Katz. Each page invites baby to lift a flap to discover a different body part. Also available as part of a three-book set; also check out Katz’s other books, available for practically every conceivable relationship or occasion (e.g. Grandma & Me, Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs, My First Ramadan, etc.).
In My Tree by Sara Gillingham and Lorena Siminovich
No baby can resist this series — with each book featuring a different finger-puppet animal (you insert your finger from the back of the book) and cut-out pages featuring different scenes. Most babies are mesmerized by the finger puppet— and go absolutely nuts trying to figure out what is making it move. Our favorite book in the series, In My Tree, features an owl who perches on his branch, hoots at the sky, washes his feathers in the raindrops, dries off, and is finally reunited with his family. Check out the other books in the series here.
Chomp! by Heather Brown
Chomp! features animal illustrations on cut-out pages and a pull-tab that makes each animal’s teeth open and chomp shut. The crocodile smiles, the leopard growls, the polar bear yawns, the orangutan laughs, the shark chomps, and the lion roars. Your little one won’t be able to resist sticking his fingers into the chomping teeth — and you won’t be able to resist the furious giggles that result!
Simple picture/word books are great for babies working on basic word recognition and starting to build their vocabularies. Look for books featuring everyday objects, animals, etc. Here are a few of our favorites:
My First Words: Let’s Get Talking! by DK Publishing
This book will grow with your child from first words through more advanced vocabulary. It features an excellent cross-section of words across 13 themed two-page spreads: “All about me!” (body parts and positions), “Clothes and shoes,” “Around the house,” “Food and drink,” “Pets,” “Playtime,” “Things that go,” “At the park,” “At the beach,” “On the farm,” “In the wild” (animals), “Colors and shapes,” and “Numbers.” After your baby has mastered the basics, she’ll be ready to graduate to the other books in the series (Animals, Numbers, Colors, etc.).
First 100 Words by Roger Priddy
Sized for little hands (approx 5.25 x 5.25″), this book is perfect for baby to read on his own or for you to tote around in your diaper bag. It features four to six images per page, providing baby with plenty of stimulation while not being overwhelming. It’s the perfect accompaniment in the car for a quiet, peaceful ride.
Bright Baby 4 pack (First Words, Colors, Animals, Trucks) by Roger Priddy
This set of simple first words books is great for babies at the younger end of this age range. Each book is small (approx 5.25 x 5.25″) and features just one picture and word on each page — perfect for babies learning their very first words.
Baby Babble by Amy Pixton, illustrated by Kate Merritt
Good night books are great for calming baby down before bed and establishing a bedtime routine. Here are some time-tested favorites for this age group:
The Going-To-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
This Boynton classic follows a troupe of her adorable animal characters as they prepare for bed — taking a bath, putting on their PJs, brushing their teeth, and finally getting rocked to sleep by the ocean. It features simple text, colorful pictures, and a wonderful soothing ending (“they rock and rock and rock to sleep”). Great wind-down book before bed.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
This sweet book features no words, yet manages to communicate a clear storyline through its fantastic illustrations alone. The loveable animal and zookeeper characters, the fun illustrations, and the humorous story make this a baby favorite.
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na
This darling book follows an owl surveying the night landscape and observing the ways in which different animals sleep (standing up, with one eye open…). At the end of the book, the sun comes up and everybody wakes up — except for the owl, whose bedtime has finally come! Parents will also love the modern, whimsical illustrations and sweet storyline.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage. This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support! See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.