New parents know it’s beneficial to read to their babies but often have no idea which books to pick. Though reading in general is invaluable, cuddle time, looking at pictures and the rhythm of words being the most important benefits, experts love to make lists.

Here are the Best Books for Babies 2018, a joint effort from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, The Fred Rogers Company and Trying Together:

» 100 First Words by Dawn Sirett, published by DK Publishing is a mix of colorful photos and illustrations with names of body parts, clothes, toys, pets and more.

» El Autobús by Chris Demarest, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offers stylized illustrations in primary colors and simple urban phrases in Spanish and English.

100 First Words book

» Black on White by Tana Hoban, published by Greenwillow Books showcases wordless everyday objects in crisp black-and-white silhouettes — perfect for newborns.

» Cat Nap by Toni Yuly, published by Feiwel & Friends features sly humor and a playful kitten’s interactions with a tired but tolerant older cat.

» Getting Ready from Child’s Play International provides varying textures and bright colors to identify familiar objects, a perfect springboard for conversation.

» Littles: And How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio, published by Doubleday is full of bouncy rhyming text and fun pictures that show the ways babies are loved, fed and cared for by all kinds of families.

» Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions by Molly Magnuson, published by Abrams Appleseed offers engaging photos of expressive babies and text so listeners can identify individual emotions and try to mimic them in a mirror on the last page.

» Mouse Is Small by Mary Murphy, published by Candlewick Press is a smart first narrative for babies with shaped pages, simply drawn animals and changing background colors.

» Peek-a-Boo Zoo by Jane Cabrera, published by Little Bee Books gets exotic when a ring-tailed lemur plays peekaboo with other animals. Die-cuts and patterns enhance backgrounds.

» Up!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes, published by Owlkids Books has cut paper collage illustrations that give a three-dimensional feel and show babies being carried in a variety of countries by parents, siblings and other relatives.

Books on earlier Best Books for Babies lists can be found on the Carnegie Library website.

Other brand-new titles that make fun gifts include the following:

» Baby’s First Cloth Book: Farm and Park, illustrated by Lisa Jones and Edward Underwood, and published by Nosy Crow. It has soft, tactile pages and bold images.

» Where’s the Dog? and Where’s the Zebra? both illustrated by Ingela Arrhenius and published by Nosy Crow. They feature felt flaps so tots can find hiding animals, and there’s a mirror on the back page accompanied by the lines “Where are you? There you are!”

I also love Lucy Cousins’ extremely colorful new Little Fish board books published by Candlewick, Count With Little Fish and Where Is Little Fish? — the latter of which has flaps for locating the orange polka-dotted baby.

Pop-Up Ocean and Pop-Up Things That Go! by Ingela Arrhenius offer simple, colorful, retro pop-ups in small book format, while Templar Books’ own I Thought I Saw a Dinosaur! and I Thought I Saw a Lion, both illustrated by Lydia Nichols, include a sliding tab for playing “slide-and-seek!” as babies get older.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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