The best books to read to your baby in utero

Susan Lupone Stonis and Jacqueline Boyle Author Of Can't Wait to Show You
By Susan Lupone Stonis and Jacqueline Boyle

Who are we?

Did you know that babies can already hear and remember elements of language during pregnancy? Belly Books were inspired by abundant scientific evidence showing the profound benefits of prenatal reading for family bonding and children’s language and learning. These beautiful board books are uniquely shaped to curve over the growing baby bump, and specially written for expectant parents to bond with their baby in the womb while practicing the art of reading aloud. We are a literacy specialist and an editor who are dedicated to helping parents experience the amazing power of prenatal family storytime. Our blog, The Reading Womb, has been spreading the message everywhere: It’s never too early to read to your baby! 


We wrote...

Can't Wait to Show You

By Jacqueline Boyle, Susan Lupone Stonis, Laura Horton (illustrator)

Book cover of Can't Wait to Show You

What is our book about?

It’s never too early to read to your baby! This specially curved book fits perfectly around your baby bump or snuggles the baby on your lap. Celebrate the joy of new life, and bond with your baby-to-be, while laying the earliest foundation for your little one’s literacy and social development.

What makes Belly Books special? It's a truly unique baby shower gift: a sturdy board book perfect for frequent use from newborn to toddler ages, with beautiful illustrations and a touching story to share with children at any stage.

The books we picked & why

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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

By Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illustrator)

Book cover of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Why this book?

New parents are likely to need a little practice reading aloud, especially to an unseen audience. A perfect choice for your first-time read-aloud experience is the whimsical rhyming alphabet book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. In a simple, catchy tempo it describes the antics of the personified letters of the alphabet—great fun to read aloud! This story has all the qualities that babies in utero respond to rhythm, repetition, and rhyme. Once baby arrives, this rousing, romping tale will have your little one wriggling and cooing to the familiar beat! 


Moo, Baa, La La La!

By Sandra Boynton,

Book cover of Moo, Baa, La La La!

Why this book?

Research shows that babies in utero hear and remember rhymes and rhythms they hear from inside the womb. The more frequently the rhymes and rhythms are repeated, the more responsive babies are to these familiar sounds when they are born. So if you’re going to be reading a book to your baby over and over again, it ought to be a fun, makes-you-laugh-out-loud one like Moo, Baa, La La La. This story is chock full of silly, catchy rhymes that you won’t mind repeating time and time again. Of course, Sandra Boynton’s illustrations are fabulous, too, so when your baby arrives, she will be delighted to meet the kooky animals she’s been listening to for months! Trust us, you can’t go wrong with any book authored by Sandra Boynton. Their lively illustrations and all-around silliness are bound to become cherished additions to your child’s read-aloud repertoire.


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

By Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle (illustrator),

Book cover of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Why this book?

You and your baby will just love meeting all the animals in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The story follows a simple pattern that repeats throughout the book. When your baby is born and begins to talk, he will become so familiar with the repetition that he’ll soon be reading the story along with you! Also, the poetic meter and repetitious verse in this story will help to create those neural pathways in your baby’s brain that lay the foundation for future language learning. It’s books like this one that prime your little one to become a future reader! This book, and its companion Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, are likely to become the kind of stories that inspire him to say, “Read it again, Mommy!” 


Good Night, Sleep Tight

By Mem Fox, Judy Horacek (illustrator),

Book cover of Good Night, Sleep Tight

Why this book?

Mem Fox is a beloved author and world-renowned early literacy expert. As the author of Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, Mem Fox has been preaching for decades about the power of reading aloud to babies. It’s not an easy task to choose just one of her titles, since she has written so many incredible books for children of all ages. However, there is not an adult or child who can resist the story of little kids Bonnie and Ben, whose wacky babysitter rhymes her way into their hearts and finally gets them to fall asleep. Some of the familiar rhymes are perfect for singing, too—what fun for you and your baby! Good Night, Sleep Tight is the perfect bedtime story to try out now, especially since research shows that reading familiar stories to babies in utero can calm and soothe them before and after they’re born! 


Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go!

By Tish Rabe, Dr. Seuss (illustrator),

Book cover of Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go!

Why this book?

Everyone has heard of Dr. Seuss, but most people don’t realize that he was a prenatal reading enthusiast. As a matter of fact, Dr. Seuss (whose real name was Theodore Geisel) was fascinated by the research that shows that babies can hear and respond to the voices they hear from inside the womb. After his death, author Tish Rabe along with Geisel’s widow Audrey, adapted his popular Oh, the Places You’ll Go to create the first-ever story especially for reading to a baby in the womb. Oh Baby, the Places You’ll Go includes all the fun rhythms, rhymes, and whimsical characters you expect in a Dr. Seuss’s story, but what’s unique about this one is that it invites expectant parents to speak directly to their baby-to-be. Reading this story to the baby bump allows new parents to share their excitement about their little one’s arrival. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in colors, nursery rhyme, and Broadway musicals?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Little Bird's Day, Baby Business, and Scarface Claw, Hold Tight if you like this list.