15 Best Baby and Kids Books for National Book Month

By Published On: October 20th, 2023

Popular new releases and fun-filled stories featuring some of your kiddos’ favorite characters.

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As a new parent, it may seem silly reading a bedtime story to your newborn who can’t so much as hold up their head, let alone follow the plot of a book, but the developmental benefits of storytime for kids start at birth. Reading together when babies are as young as 4 months old increases the chances that parents continue to read aloud to babies as they get older. Beginning early is important because the roots of language are developing in a baby’s brain even before he can talk! The more words a baby hears over time, the more words he learns.

And that’s only the beginning because throughout baby’s first year and as your child grows, reading to them becomes even more important, from when they say their first words until you reach a point where they are reading to you and developing a love for books in a whole new, exciting way.

October is National Book Month, which offers an excellent excuse to grab a few stories for baby shower gifts, stock your child’s nursery up on some of the best baby books, refresh your toddler’s bookshelf, or gift your big kid with a new adventure. There are many classics to choose from, like the must-have Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon; the all-time favorite Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar; the rhyming fun of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle; and no little one’s library is complete without the quintessential baby board book, Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton.

In addition to the mainstays, we found many new essential baby reads to help you establish a bedtime ritual and bond with your new baby, help your little one develop language skills, and embark on an adventure together. After all, you can never have too many children’s books.

Bake a Rainbow Cake! 

Bake a Rainbow Cake! by Amirah Kassem is more than just a story—it’s full of fun activities, too. With each turn of a page, your little one gets to interact with the book to help bake a rainbow explosion cake (complete with sparkly sprinkles at the end). They’ll mix up the batter, open the oven, frost the cake, and finally cut themselves a pretend slice. It won’t take long for this book to become part of your child’s regular rotation.

How to Eat a Book

I know what you’re thinking: we should actively be teaching our kids not to eat books, but don’t worry, this isn’t a step-by-step tutorial or anything. In reality, How to Eat a Book by Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod is a fantastic picture book about three kids whose books eat them (what a twist!). It’s a fun way to show how easy it is to get wrapped up in a book, to escape your own world and enter a new one through reading.

Eggy’s Emotion Clock

Illustrations are a good way to help little kids learn how to identify and express their feelings, which is what makes the Eggy’s Emotion Clock book and figurine set from Hape so clever. The book comes with six eggs, five with painted feeling expressions (happy, sad, afraid, embarrassed, and angry) and one that’s blank for your child to paint themselves. The book explains what each of these feelings is through the story of Eggy, who is sad when his favorite toy breaks and afraid when he gets swallowed by a big dog.

Vlad, The Fabulous Vampire

Vlad, The Fabulous Vampire by Flavia Z. Drago is a picture book about a spooky vampire whose rosy cheeks make him not-so-spooky at all. In fact, they make him look alive! At first, Vlad tries to hide the pink in his face but eventually learns that there’s no reason to keep who he really is a secret. This story is so cute, has a wonderful message, and is filled with incredible bold illustrations.

Sleepy Not Sleepy: A Tiny Dino’s Bedtime Adventure 

New babies and toddlers can follow a very cute dinosaur around as he struggles with not wanting to go to bed. Unlike baby board books, this one features a soft padded cover that’s perfect for tiny baby fingers and safe for teething gums. Sleepy Not Sleepy: A Tiny Dino’s Bedtime Adventure by Manhattan Toy, illustrated by Madelyn Kozlowski, is a short, sweet 10-page story about Chomp, the dinosaur who still has so much he wants to do before the day is over.

Poke-a-Dot: Goodnight, Animals

Another fun interactive book, Poke-A-Dot: Goodnight, Animals from Melissa and Doug, is made for kids as young as 3 years old who want to practice their counting and enjoy touch-and-feel books. The story is 20 pages long, with different buttons to poke, pop, and count on each page. As the story goes on, little ones will help put all kinds of cute farm animals to bed before going to bed without a fuss themselves (hey, we can hope, right?).

Rocky: Princess Astronaut

Sure to be a bestseller, Rocky: Princess Astronaut by Roni Sarig is a perfect book for a kid who loves the finer things in life as much as they love getting their hands dirty and exploring. The book follows Rocky, who enjoys tea parties and being a princess in general (who wouldn’t?!) but also has a deep interest in science—particularly outer space. Throughout the story, Rocky learns to follow her own path, which eventually takes her to the moon.

The Animal Song 

A new release in 2023, The Animal Song by Jonty Howley is a fun bedtime picture book about a bear, a crocodile, and a weasel who come together to create a traveling band. The different animals go from place to place, putting on loud shows for their forest friends until winter comes, and it’s time for everyone to quiet down and fall asleep. As an added bonus, there’s even a website parents can visit to find original music to go along with the story by the book’s author.

If You Were Spaghetti

Your baby can never hear “I love you” too much, but with If You Were Spaghetti by Haily Meyers, you can switch up how you say it. Each page puts together a classic pairing to demonstrate how much your little one means to you, like “If you were spaghetti, I’d be a meatball” and “If you were a party, I’d be a cake.” As your baby grows up, they’ll continue to enjoy this flap book, as each page has pictures that little hands can lift to make the story not only cute but also interactive.

What a Wonderful World

My youngest daughter was gifted What a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele, George David Weiss, and Tim Hopgood when she was born, and it continues to be one of her favorite books four years later. The board book simply features the lyrics to the beloved Louis Armstrong song but is filled with whimsical, beautiful illustrations. The lyrics are broken up by page into readable parts, so you can just read aloud if you don’t want to sing the song—but if you do sing, I can say from personal experience that your child will learn the song and will be adorably singing along with you in no time.

Happy Camper

When you aren’t able to get outside, you can still teach your little one about the great outdoors with Happy Camper by Jilanne Hoffmann. The camper-shaped board book follows outdoor family adventures in all four seasons, from fishing to hiking to scenic driving. Each page has bright illustrations with labels for animals, offering extra learning opportunities for readers.


Teach your child about animals and introduce them to another language with Alebrijes, illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. While it’s not a continuous story, each page features a vibrant, gorgeous illustration of an animal and is labeled in English and Spanish. This book offers an opportunity to expose your child to Mexican culture and is so beautiful it’s sure to keep their attention.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh!

Released in September of this year, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh! by Mo Willems is the latest in the Caldecott award-winning Pigeon book series. In this story, the Pigeon wants nothing more than for his holiday wish to drive a sleigh to come true. There’s no telling whether or not he’ll find himself behind the reigns of the sleigh, but he’s sure to make you and your kiddo laugh as you turn each page to find out.

Where is Claris? In Paris

When I came across this book in the store one day, I just had to get it for my oldest daughter. Where Is Claris? In Paris by Megan Hess is a look-and-find book filled with some of the prettiest illustrations ever (take a seat, Where’s Waldo?). Each page features a different Paris scene with several hidden pictures, like a pastry shop, a storefront, and a clothing boutique. What I really love about this book—aside from how gorgeous it is—is that each item your child is supposed to look for is labeled with a word and has a picture, so little kids and young readers don’t necessarily need a parent with them to tell them what to search for (unlike some classic books, like I Spy).

I Am Quiet

This one is for the little introverts of the world (you’re in good company, kids!). I Am Quiet by Andie Powers follows Emile, a little boy whom everyone calls shy but who is actually just quiet. The story celebrates the incredible imagination he has within him even though it’s not something the rest of the world can see and acknowledges that just because he doesn’t raise his hand in class, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know the answers to the questions.