The bright ink of a hot pink marker…
The squeaks and squawks of birds before school…
The gentle touch of mom or dad…
Every day, your little one witnesses sights, sounds, and feelings that ignite their senses. Their brain captures them, like a film developer creating a vast, colorful new world. As their budding minds grow, these sensory experiences can be the bridge to the magical world of reading—especially through the best early picture books.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For babies and toddlers, a picture is worth a thousand encouraging words. These stories paint tales that excite your child’s vivid imagination, setting a path toward a book-filled future. From historic aviators to bike-riding potatoes, we’ve created a list of the best early picture books to entice any pair of eyes from ages 0 to 3.
Are You There, Little Fox?
By Sam Taplin
Does your little one light up from sensory learning? Then take their hand through the forest world of Are You There, Little Fox. With its textured pages and gorgeous animal illustrations, this board book will excite the minds and hands of kids as young as 6 months old. Flip through this tactile story to learn about bears, squirrels, and, of course, foxes—which your child may discover hiding sneakily under some red bushes!
Alis the Aviator
By Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail
Buckle up and strap your pilot goggles on! We’re flying high into the sky with Alis the Aviator—aka the renowned indigenous pilot, Dr. Alis B. Kennedy. This winged journey zooms through the clouds of history, exploring the greatest planes of all time from A to Z. Lessons of inclusivity, world events, and daring bravery take the wheel in this riveting tale. It’s the perfect breezy adventure to make every budding aviator’s heart soar.
All the Little Snowflakes
By Cindy Jin
Snowballs and snowmen and snow cones—oh my! Cindy Jin’s novelty board book celebrates all things winter, especially the magic of snow. Bundle them up, grab a mug of hot cocoa, and let your little reader’s hands explore the tactile illustrations of a winter wonderland. With the book’s die-cut drawings and cut-outs, this favorite on our list of best early picture books enhances basic motor skills and sensory interpretations in snowy style. You might even hear gurgles of glee during the next snowfall.
A Potato on a Bike
By Elise Gravel
Did someone say… a bike-riding potato? This uniquely hilarious board book binds together cartoonish drawings, tactile pages, and outrageous situations depicting your child’s favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) vegetables. Joyful images of singing tomatoes and counting broccoli are sure to activate their imagination and giggles. Heck, they might even want to try their veggie friends at dinner—no airplane forks necessary.
Hooray for Fish
By Lucy Cousins
Splash down! Lucy Cousin’s delightful read-aloud book is an ode to scaly friends of all kinds. Watch your little swimmer say hello to spotty fish, striped fish, red fish, and blue fish as they swim through the rainbow-colored sea. Every shade and description is a chance for your child to expand their budding vocabulary. By the end of their diving adventure, they’ll be the ones guiding the tours on your next aquarium trip.
All Aboard! National Parks
By Kevin and Haily Meyers
Calling all climbers and crawlers! We’re hitting the trails across the expansive US National Parks. As part of a board book series, All Aboard! National Parks takes young rangers by train through the country’s most precious natural beauty. Husband and wife co-authors Kevin and Haily Meyers bring the wilderness to life with touchably soft pages and stunning illustrations. See which park your favorite explorer loves the most (and may even want to visit).
8 Little Planets
By Chris Ferrie
To illustration infinity… and beyond! This fascinating and heartwarming tale takes a rocket trip through the solar system’s eight planets. As part of the Baby University series, 8 Little Planets sneaks in fun facts about each planet’s unique qualities. Adorable rhymes and die-cut shapes add to the fun, so your little astronaut can learn as they reach for the stars (and plenty of brand-new words).
Picture a Book-Filled Future with Literati Book Clubs
If your little one is just starting to crack open pages, these best early picture books are an easy way to get the book ball rolling. Take them on a trip to Imagination Station with these visual adventures that encourage them to point to familiar objects, imitate sounds, and traverse the sensory world around them. Once they’ve seen a few, your bright baby learner will soon reach for more.
That’s where Literati can help.
As part of the Literati Kids book club, your budding reader receives hand-picked stories in every customized box. Our clubs are built to match different reading levels and interests so that your child can feel excited (and supported) to keep turning the pages. All it takes is a quick personalization quiz to curate your child’s perfect book club to nurture a lifelong love for reading.