nursery rhymes for babies

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 but finding a good book of nursery rhymes these days can be hard.

Yet nursery rhymes and poems continue to play an important role in the learning-to-read journey of our kiddos and we neglect them at our peril. 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;

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. 

the puffin book of nursery rhymes

The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes

The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes is a large-format, hardcover book (22cm x 29cm) containing 250+ nursery rhymes for babies and young children. Illustrated by Raymond Briggs, this is a lovely book to give as a gift or to buy for your own family.
 a childs treasury of nursery rhymes

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.
 a childs treasury of nursery rhymes

The Orchard Book of Nursery Rhymes

The Orchard Book of Nursery Rhymes is a larger book (25cm x 27cm) containing 75 of the most popular nursery rhymes for kids. The illustrations are quite traditional and very cute.
usborne illustrated nursery rhymes

Usborne Illustrated Nursery Rhymes

Usborne Illustrated Nursery Rhymes is a beautifully-illustrated collection of 100 nursery rhymes in a medium-format book (17cm x 22cm). It has a beautiful padded cover which makes it a lovely book to give as a gift. This is one of the books included in our Nursery Rhyme Gift Basket.
nursery rhyme picture book

The Usborne Nursery Rhyme Picture Book

The Usborne Nursery Rhyme Picture Book is a beautiful large-format board book (24cm x 26cm) which features one nursery rhyme and an illustration on each double-page spread. 13 of the most popular nursery rhymes are included and the large tabs make it easy for small hands to find a favourite rhyme.
book of nursery rhymes

The Usborne Little Book of Nursery Rhymes

The Usborne Little Book of Nursery Rhymes is a smaller-format book (14cm x 18cm) which features a padded cover and 52 popular nursery rhymes, beginning with Humpty Dumpty.
lucy cousins nursery rhymes

Lucy Cousin’s Nursery Rhymes

Lucy Cousins’ Nursery Rhymes is a gorgeous, bright little board book (15cm x 18cm) which makes a wonderful introduction for babies into the world of nursery rhymes. If the illustrations look familiar, Lucy Cousins is the creator and illustrator of the Maisy books.
clare beatons nursery rhymes

Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes

Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes is a chunky board book (17cm x 16.5cm) which is perfect for little ones to read on their own. There are seven nursery rhymes in total, with each double-page spread featuring one rhyme or song. Clare Beaton has created a series of these little nursery rhyme board books and each book is delightful.
clare beatons action rhymes

Clare Beaton’s Action Rhymes

Clare Beaton’s Action Rhymes is a chunky little (16cm x 17cm) board book containing a selection of seven popular nursery rhymes for kids with easy-to-follow actions to help build movement, co-ordination and language skills.
each peach pear plum

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!

good night sleep tight

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.

bonnie and ben rhyme again

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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12 best nursery rhyme books for kids

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.

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Hello!

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.