Nursery Rhymes for Babies, Nursery Rhymes for Toddlers
Bookshops and libraries were once full of books of nursery rhymes for kids. I have a lovely collection of books of nursery rhymes for babies and toddlers which dates back to the years when my children were small and have lots of beautiful memories of reading them with my three little ones.
But finding a good book of nursery rhymes these days can be surprisingly hard. Why is this?
I’m not sure I have the answer but I wonder if it’s a simple case of supply and demand. With all the options available to parents these days, both in terms of books and in terms of entertainment generally, perhaps interest in – and awareness of – nursery rhymes has just fallen away.
I don’t know whether this is the case but I do know that nursery rhymes and poems continue to play an important role in the learning-to-read journey of our kiddos.
There’s actually lots of research around this. Did you know that, as well as being great fun to share, nursery rhymes contribute to the development of a rich vocabulary and are great stimulators of phonological awareness, a critical pre-reading skill? Phonological awareness begins developing at birth (possibly even before birth) so you can begin reading nursery rhymes aloud right from your baby’s earliest days.
When I was creating my Nursery Rhyme Gift Basket for little ones, I went hunting for the best books of nursery rhymes for babies and young children and my top 12 books are reviewed here. They can be roughly divided into three groups:
- bigger, hardcover books (with paper pages) containing a wide collection of nursery rhymes;
- smaller board books containing a small selection of nursery rhymes;
- books about nursery rhymes which contain excerpts of nursery rhymes or which feature well-known characters from nursery rhymes. We can probably call these nursery rhyme-themed books;
The hardcover books are great to share with children at story time while the smaller board books can also be carried around and ‘read’ by your little ones themselves.
If you’re looking at buying books of nursery rhymes for kids, I recommend buying one big hardcover book and a couple of smaller board books for your baby’s library. Books of nursery rhymes for babies also make wonderful baby shower gifts, new baby gifts and, of course, birthday gifts.
1. The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes
2. A Child’s Treasury of Nursery Rhymes
A Child’s Treasury of Nursery Rhymes is a large hardcover book (23cm x 28cm) containing over 75 classic nursery rhymes and songs divided into four sections: Welcome, Little Baby; Toddler Time; In the Schoolyard; and All Join In. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous.
3. The Orchard Book of Nursery Rhymes
4. Usborne Illustrated Nursery Rhymes
5. The Usborne Nursery Rhyme Picture Book
6. The Usborne Little Book of Nursery Rhymes
7. Lucy Cousin’s Nursery Rhymes
8. Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes
9. Clare Beaton’s Action Rhymes
10. Each Peach Pear Plum
Each Peach Pear Plum is hands-down one of my favourite nursery rhyme books for babies and young children. This charming board book is really a rhyming game of I Spy where little ones are invited to find their favourite characters from popular nursery rhymes until, at the end, all the characters are found having a picnic together. The illustrations by Janet and Allan Ahlberg are delightful and the rhythm and rhymes are lovely to read aloud. This was one of my own children’s favourite books when they were small and I can still recite the whole book by heart!
11. Good Night, Sleep Tight
Good Night, Sleep Tight is a lovely board book (18cm x 19cm) written by Mem Fox. It’s the story of Bonnie and Ben whose favourite babysitter recites nursery rhymes to them before they go to bed.
12. Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again
Bonnie and Ben Rhyme Again is a sequel to Mem Fox’s popular Good Night, Sleep Tight, about a brother and sister and their babysitter, Skinny Doug. In this book, the trio go off on an adventure, rhyming as they go. Illustrated by the wonderfully-talented Judy Horacek (see the green sheep on the cover?) this book is great fun for 1-5-year-olds.
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Over to you
Do you read nursery rhymes to your little ones?
Or are you a teacher who reads nursery rhymes to the small people you hang out with?
Have I missed your favourite nursery rhyme book?
I’d love to hear what you think so drop me a line in the comments.
I’m Felicity. I write about children’s books and reading and about their potential for enriching the lives of young humans.
I review picture books, board books and sometimes books for older children.
As well as being a lover of all things to do with books and reading, I’m a mum of three young adults and a primary school teacher. I also create gift baskets filled with the very best books for children from newborns to four-year-olds.
Welcome. It’s nice to meet you.