17 Books Every Parent Should Read Their Child Before They Can Talk
I've heard a lot of cliches since becoming a mom, but the one I hear the most is this: "You beg your kids to walk and talk, and then you spend the rest of your life telling them to sit down and shut up." Although I get the joke, it bums me out. My chatty toddler is my absolute favorite, and I could listen to her "stories" all day long. I'm pretty sure her love of reading encourages her to talk more and more, but there are some books every parent should read their child before they can talk, too.
OK, I can admit that sometimes your kids are going to ramble incessantly and all you'll want is a set of ear plugs. But your children have so much to say! And literally everything they're thinking is important to them. They're going to ask you questions, comment on all the things they see, repeatedly ask you to name things or explain something, and tell you everything on their mind. It's a blast to see their little minds develop and watch their curiosity soar, no matter how aggravating the question "What's that?" becomes.
With these 17 books, you can encourage your child to talk, influence their vocabulary, and give them the tools they need to speak up and ask questions about their world. The conversations you're going to have with your little one will surpass these books, sure, but they're perfect to read before your child starts talking.
1. 'Goodnight Moon' by Margaret Wise Brown
So Goodnight Moon may backfire on you when they do start talking and it takes 20 minutes to put them to bed, but it's a perfectly sweet book and introduces them to naming objects, rhymes, and comes with beautiful illustrations to help them associate words and things.
2. 'Chicka Chicka Boom Boom' by Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault
An absolute classic, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tells the story of all the lowercase letters climbing up a coconut tree before falling down and their uppercase letters coming to rescue them. Your little one won't be writing and spelling for a while, but introducing them to letters is never a bad idea.
3. 'Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin' by Lloyd Moss
You can't prepare your child to speak without including a book full of rhymes. Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin is as fun to read out loud as it is to listen to, and can also enhance your child's vocabulary with lots of musical instruments and fun words.
4. 'Moo, Baa, La La La!' by Sandra Boynton
Sandra Boynton is the queen of silly picture books, so Moo, Baa, La La La! is a must for any list. But before your child speaks, read them this book to help your kiddo with their animal sounds!
5. 'Home' by Carson Ellis
I firmly believe that when your child learns to speak, the best thing you can do is introduce them to lots and lots of words. Without forcing it, that's exactly what Home does. They'll learn the meaning of the word 'home' and how it can look and feel different for everybody.
6. 'The Whisper' by Pamela Zagarenski
The Whisper is a beautiful story about words escaping out of a book, leading a little girl to create her own adventure with her imagination. There's no better book to share with your child that will inform them of just how powerful their future words can be.
7. 'Is Mommy?' by Victoria Chang
The text is very simple in Is Mommy? but makes a sweet impact. As toddlers are asked questions about their mommy, they shout out the one word answers like "tall" and "fun." Your kiddo's favorite subject is you, so they'll love learning about adjectives and how to describe you with this book.
8. 'One Thousand Things' by Anna Kovecses
Every child's bookshelf needs a book full of images and objects to learn, but few are as gorgeous as One Thousand Things. Point out all kinds of animals, plants, transportation objects, and more in this beautiful book to build your kid's vocabulary.
9. 'Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You' by Dr. Seuss
Onomatopoeia is always a favorite aspect of a child's book, but it's especially great when your little one's preparing to talk. In Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You, children learn tons of sounds and they will have so much fun trying each one out.
10. 'Walk This World' by Jenny Broom
Another sweet book full of new things for your baby to learn about, Walk This World is also a lift-the-flap book which gives your non-verbal babe a whole new way to learn that caters to their skill level. The illustrations are gorgeous as they cover many different cultures, and will give your kid a jump-start at tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation for the world around them. It will also encourage them to ask questions about things, places, and people they see!
11. 'Your Baby's First World Will Be Dada' by Jimmy Fallon
OK, fair warning. Don't read Your Baby's First Word Will Be DADA until you're sure you don't mind your kiddo saying "dada" before "mama." The book is short and sweet and definitely gets kids speaking with its repetition.
12. 'The Odd One Out' by Britta Teckentrup
Your child will learn most of their words by pointing things and waiting for you to identify them, so The Odd One Out is a fun way to get them started with the habit. It's a gorgeous search-and-find book that will help them learn descriptions and how to identify objects.
13. 'Before After' by Matthias Arégui
You just can't go wrong with a book full of illustrations for a non-speaking kiddo and Before After is perfect. Beyond the graphics that show things changing, like an egg to a chicken or a seed to a plant, it will also encourage your little one to ask questions and pay attention to the world around them.
14. 'Big Words For Little People' by Jamie Lee Curtis
It might be a while before your kids can say the words in Big Words For Little People, but it's still a sweet book that discusses the power of words and how important communication is.
15. 'Ask Me' by Bernard
I will never stop recommending Ask Me, especially if you're looking for a book to help with speech and communication. The story is about a little girl asking her father all types of questions and will get both you and your little one prepared for their curious mind once they start speaking.
16. 'Duck! Rabbit!' by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Full of only dialogue, Duck! Rabbit! is not only funny, but has short, easy text that your kiddo will love. When you're looking to spark the fun of conversation, this is the book to make it happen.
17. 'Go The F**k To Sleep' by Adam Mansbach
OK, Go the F**k To Sleep is a must-read before your kid starts talking for one reason: they can't repeat any of the words. You've got to squeeze it in when you can, right?