My 9 year-old can still recite nursery rhymes I read to him when he was a baby and toddler. Nursery rhyme books for babies and toddlers are a favorite on the bookshelf or in the book basket. Here are some of my favorites that are destined to become favorites with your kids too.
It is important to note that several nursery rhymes need to be retired because of being out of date, being racist, or because of sterotyping. Think critcally when reviewing.
Nursery Rhyme Books for Toddlers and Babies
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Nursery Rhyme Collections
Hickory, Dickory, Dock and other favorite nursery rhymes illustrated by Sanja Rescek was one of my kids’ favorites. This padded board book saw a lot of wear and tear in my house. (board book)
For a spin on the traditional rhymes, check out Motor Goose: Rhymes that Go! by Rebecca Colby. As you can probably guess, each traditional nursery rhyme gets a vehicle make over such as Hey Diddle, Diddle becomes Hey Digger, Digger.
Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka is along the same lines with that vehicle theme. I can not begin to count the number of times we checked this one out from the library. My kids knew where it was located on the shelf and got it almost every single time it was checked in.
I love that Nina Crews uses photographs of children in her collage images in The Neighborhood Mother Goose. And, I appreciate that children of color are represented which is not easy to find in nursery rhyme books. Little ones will love pointing at all the things they find in the illustrations.
Honey for You Honey for Me by Michael Rosen is a big gift book that is full of whimsical pictures and some lesser-known rhymes.
A beautiful book is La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for Los Ninos by Susan Middleton Elya. It’s a treasury of nursery rhymes sprinkled with Spanish words to replace the mostly English text. And, the illustrations are just gorgeous.
The Usborne Big Book of Nursery Rhymes has nice large board book pages with the most popular nursery rhymes. I do wish the illustrations featured more diversity in the characters though. (large board book)
Tuttle Publishing has a series of nursery rhymes for different countries. You’ll find rhymes in English as well as the featured langugage of the country in the book. Look for Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes, Japanese and English Nursery Rhymes, and Korean English Nursery Rhymes.
Hey Diddle Diddle by Emily Bannister is a collection of 5 nursery rhymes that also invites little ones to trace lines with their fingers. Children will trace the waves under the boat in Row, Row, Row Your Boat and the light shining from a star for Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. (board book)
Five Little Ducks – First Book of Nursery Games by Ailie Busby is a mix of traditional nursery rhymes and modern rhymes complete with hand motions to act them out. One of my favorites- I Had a Little Turtle. Also check out Busby’s Pat-A-Cake Nursery Rhymes and See Saw Nursery Songs. (board book)
Nursery Rhyme Books With a Single Rhyme
I’ve sung the praises of the Indestructibles series many times. I love them for babies and toddlers who love to stick books in their mouths or tug on pages. These books are washable, tear-proof, and lightweight making them a perfect pick for the diaper bag. There are many books in the series, but check out Indestructibles Classic Nursery Rhyme Set.
The Eensy-Weensy Spider by Mary Ann Hoberman is full of playful illustrations and just beg for you to act out the rhyme. In fact, I remember my aunt singing with hand-motions to me over 40 years ago. (board book)
For some reason, many of the nursery rhyme books come in small formats which is fine unless you are trying to read to a group of children. So, when I ran across Barbabra McClintock’s Three Little Kittens in a nice large format, I was super excited. This is one of my very favorite versions of Three Little Kittens. In fact, I have an entire Book Dive to do with the book as your little ones become preschoolers.—>See the Book Dive
Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker is a vibrant illustrated spin on a catchy nursery rhyme. Also, check out Keith’s Hickory Dickory Dock.
Cottage Door Press has a series of books out called the Sing & Smile Stories. Traditional songs and rhymes are matched with beautiful illustrations. My favorite thing about this series is that there is a handle that little ones can grab, hold and carry. Try Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. (board book)
Jane Cabera’s illustrations in her books are delightful. You’ll find many of your favorite nursery rhmes and songs in books by her. Perhaps start with One, Two, Buckle My Shoe or Old Mother Hubbard. (board book or hardcover)
Nursery Rhymes to Listen to at School or Home
Raise your hand if you have sung a Raffi tune here or there. Well check out his partnership album with Lindsay Munroe who have reimagined the classic nursery rhymes and have given them an updated kinder feel and sound. Instead of “Three Blind Mice” we have “Three Kind Mice.” No cradles falling out of trees in “Rock-a -Bye Baby” instead brother peeks in and sister tells a bedtime story to help you sleep well to check in on baby. Grab Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times to listen to.
Printable Book List of Nursery Rhymes
Grab a printable list of the books recommended above. Just click the purple printer button below.
Happy singing, rhyming, and reading!