10 Classic Children’s Books Every New Parent Should Have

Photo by Alison Winterroth / Stocksy United / 847896
Photo by Alison Winterroth / Stocksy United

By Rachel Ward

A new baby is always exciting—but even more so when it’s Mom and Dad’s first! They’re probably already planning for a crib, stroller, clothes, and other essentials…and so is everybody else on the baby shower invite list. So why not get the parents-to-be the gift of storytime? We’ve put together the children’s books that all first time parents should have! What would you add to the list?

Velveteen Rabbit cover
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Illustrated by William Nicholson. Used by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

1. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Age group: Toddler/Preschool

First published in 1922, this touching book tells the story of a stuffed animal who is loved so much by his owner that he becomes real. It’s perfect to help children begin to think about the difference between real and pretend.

Very Hungry Caterpillar cover
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Used by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Age group: Infant/Toddler

Colors, counting, food, and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly: This charming book is a classic for a reason!

Corduroy cover
Corduroy by Don Freeman. Used by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

3. Corduroy by Don Freeman

Age group: Toddler/Preschool

This entertaining tale follows the adventures of a stuffed bear in a department store who searches for a lost button from his overalls. Corduroy’s imagination turns an elevator into a mountain, and furniture into a palace.

Goodnight Moon cover
GOODNIGHT MOON Copyright © 1947 and Renewal Copyright © 1975 Albert Clarke III, Trustee of the Albert E. Clarke III Living Trust dated April 3, 2013 and John Thacher Hurd. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Age group: Infant/Toddler

This classic bedtime story features a baby bunny who says good night to everything in his bedroom before falling asleep. (It reportedly has a similar soporific effect on babies.)

Curious George cover
Copyright © 1941 by H.A. Rey and Renewal Copyright © 1969 by H.A. Rey. Used by permission of HMH Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

5. Curious George by H.A. Rey

Age group: Preschool

A man in a yellow hat finds a curious monkey in the jungle, names him George, and brings him home as a pet. What could go wrong? He soon finds out as George escapes, swims in the ocean, flees policemen, and takes to the skies with a set of balloons!

Love You Forever cover
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Sheila McGraw. Used by permission of Firefly Books. All rights reserved.

6. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Age group: Toddler/Preschool

This tale demonstrates the depth of love that exists between a parent and child in a way that children can easily understand.

Harold Purple Crayon cover
HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON Copyright © 1955 by Crockett Johnson and Renewal Copyright © 1983 Ruth Krauss. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

7. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Age group: Preschool

Armed with his trusty purple crayon, a little boy named Harold sets out to take a walk in the moonlight—and winds up drawing an entire world of his own making!

5 Little Monkeys cover
Copyright © 1989 by Eileen Christelow. Used by permission of HMH Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

8. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

Age group: Infant/Toddler

Five little monkeys just won’t stop jumping on their bed—and after a few reads, odds are strong that your toddler won’t stop reciting the counting and rhyming story. On the plus side, because the naughty monkeys bump their heads, the story not-so-subtly teaches that furniture shouldn’t be used as a jungle gym!

9. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Age group: Toddler/Preschool

Kids adore Dr. Seuss’ nonsensical plots and wacky illustrated characters, and we love his work because children are joyfully learning letter sounds and combinations, rhymes, and basic words!

10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Age group: Preschool

Perfect for free-spirited youngsters who feel misunderstood, Sendak’s story follows a boy named Max who has misbehaved and is sent to bed without his supper. Angry and frustrated, Max travels far away to the land of the wild things, where he can do as he pleases—until he finds he really just wants to be with someone who loves him. 

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