Best Books for Babies Selection Criteria

Picking out good books for babies is more complicated than it might seem. For one thing, there’s a lot of brain development happening in the first 18 months of life as well as changes in babies’ physical abilities. For another, what amuses or intrigues one infant (or caregiver) might not catch the attention of another.

Finally, the fact that there are thousands of children’s books published every year means there’s an enormous pool to choose from. So how does the Best Books for Babies Committee decide which titles to put on their annual lists? They use the criteria below—and engage in some pretty energetic conversations along the way.

The Committee will recognize books that sound good when read aloud and that celebrate the beauty of language. Books that extend the experience of the youngest listener, books to grow on, will be sought. The criteria used to identify distinguished books for babies will include:

  • Age appropriate subject matter or theme;
  • Clear, uncluttered illustrations;
  • Appropriateness of text;
  • Easy physical manipulation by the intended audience;
  • Durability;
  • Diverse and authentic representation of race, gender, ability, culture, and family structure;
  • Excellence of presentation (text, illustration, design for an infant audience).

Some aspects of books to be considered:

  • Identification of familiar objects;
  • Skillfully implemented rhythm and rhyme;
  • Pattern and repetition – in text and illustration;
  • Color and contrast;
  • Form and shape;
  • Tactile experiences, e.g., touch and feel;
  • Pacing appropriate for the material and intended audience;
  • Safety issues.

Some types of books to be considered include:

  • Mother Goose rhymes;
  • Concept books;
  • Wordless books;
  • Board books;
  • Cloth books;
  • Flap and movable parts books;
  • Picture storybooks;
  • Song books;
  • Interactive books;
  • Books using photographs as illustration.
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