Babytime Picture Books

This website will be under development throughout 2018. Check in periodically for updates.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive list of books that are ideal for babies and baby programs, and a profile of how each title fulfills conversational reading goals at a baby’s development level on the learning continuum.

In the meantime, check out the titles recommended on the toddlertime and storytime books pages, and here is some research on babies’ processing and cognition:

Infants’ Manual Exploration of Pictorial Objects Varying in Realism

By Sophia L. Pierroutsakos  and Judy S. DeLoache

Abstract: In previous research, we established that 9-month-old infants manually investigate pictured objects by hitting, rubbing, and grasping as if to pluck them off the page. This behavior suggests that infants do not understand the 2-dimensional nature of pictures. Although they can perceive depth cues and distinguish pictures from objects,
they do not appreciate the significance of these cues; that is, they do not realize how
depicted objects differ from real ones. We report 2 studies that support the idea that
infants’ manual response to pictures is driven by the resemblance of depicted objects
to the real objects they represent. In Study 1, we report that infants’ manual investigation
of pictures is directly related to how realistic they are: The more depicted objects look like real objects, the more manual investigation they evoke. In Study 2, we show that 9-month-old infants’ manual behaviors are concentrated on depicted objects even when there are areas of greater perceptual contrast on the page. The results are discussed with respect to the early development of pictorial competence.

Recognition of Moving and Static Faces by Young Infants

By Yumiko Otsuka, Yukuo Konishi, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi, Hervé Abdi and Alice J. O’Toole

Abstract: This study compared 3- to 4-month-olds’ recognition of previously unfamiliar faces learned in a moving or a static condition. Infants in the moving condition showed successful recognition with only 30 s familiarization, even when different images of a face were used in the familiarization and test phase (Experiment 1). In contrast, infants in the static condition showed successful recognition only when the familiarization duration was lengthened to 90 s and when the same image was used between the familiarization
and test phase (Experiments 2 and 3). Furthermore, presentation of multiple static images of a face did not yield the same level of performance as the moving condition (Experiment 4). These results suggest that facial motion promotes young infants’ recognition of unfamiliar faces.

The Aesthetic Preferences of Infants: Pictures of Faces That Captivate Their Interest

By Katherina Danko-McGhee

Abstract: This research focused on the observation of infants between the ages of 2 and 18 months with regard to their aesthetic preferences for a variety of visual stimuli. These stimuli included: a blackand-white schematic drawing of a baby, a popular cartoon image, a colorful abstract painting of a baby, and a photographic image of a baby’s face. Prior research with this age group has determined that faces are of most interest to them. However, young children are now bombarded by the visual media (i.e. television and DVDs, picture books, etc.), and this preference may have changed. Determining the aesthetic preferences of babies will help parents, childcare providers, and picture book authors/illustrators to provide visual imagery that is aesthetically appealing to them. Providing visually stimulating imagery can help babies to develop their visual discrimination and tracking skills. Research confirms that birth to five years is the most important period for children with respect to brain development. Therefore, more research is needed that will provide us with clues about what forms of visual stimulation are appropriate in order to better facilitate this developmental process.

The Origins of Joint Visual Attention in Infants

By Valerie Corkum and Chris Moore

Abstract: Two experiments examined the origins of joint visual attention with a training procedure. In Experiment I, infants aged 6 – 11 months were tested for a gaze-following (joint visual attention) response under feedback and no feedback conditions. In Experiment 2, infants 8-9 months received feedback for either following the experimenter’s gaze (natural group) or looking to the opposite side (unnatural group). Results of the 2 experiments indicate that (a) joint visual attention does not reliably appear prior to 10 months of age, (b) from about 8 months of age, a gaze-following response can be learned, and (c) simple learning is not sufficient as the mechanism through which joint attention cues acquire their signal value.

Four-Month-Old Infants Prefer to Listening to Motherese

By Anne Fernald

Abstract: The speech register used by adults with infants and young children, known as motherese, is linguistically simplified and characterized by high pitch and exaggerated intonation. This study investigated infant selective listening to motherese speech. The hypothesis tested was that infants would choose to listen more often to motherese when given the choice between a variety of natural infant-directed and adult-directed speech samples spoken by four women unfamiliar to the subjects. Forty-eight &month-old infants were tested in on operant auditory preference procedure. Infants showed a significant listening preference for the motherese speech register.

Perceptual Development (in the Handbook of Child Psychology and Development Science)

By Scott Johnson and Erin Hannon

Introduction Excerpt: How do perceptual skills arise early in life? How do they contribute to developing systems of knowledge? As we note throughout this chapter, the five features of perceptual systems have motivated innumerable experiments on perceptual development in humans and other species. Recounting them all is impossible, and so our strategy in writing the chapter is to provide a narrative about the development of human infants’ perceptual systems as the primary means to acquire and interpret knowledge about events, objects, and people in the world around them. We focus also on developmental mechanisms—growth,  experience, and learning—and we consider as well the malleability, or plasticity, of perceptual systems during development.

The effect of narrative cues on infants’ imitation from television and picture books

By Gabrielle Simcock, Kara Garrity and Rachel Barr

Infants can imitate a novel action sequence from television and picture books; yet there has been no direct comparison of infants’ imitation from the two types of media. Varying the narrative cues available during the demonstration and test, we measured 18- and 24-month-olds’ imitation from television and picture books. Infants imitated from both media types when full narrative cues (Experiment 1; N = 76) or empty, meaningless narration (Experiment 2; N = 135) accompanied the demonstrations, but they imitated more from television than books. In Experiment 3 (N = 27), infants imitated from a book based on narration alone, without the presence of pictures. These results are discussed in relation to age-related changes in cognitive flexibility and infants’ emerging symbolic understanding.

The pitch of maternal voice: a comparison of mothers suffering from depressed mood and non‐depressed mothers reading books to their infants

By Nadja Reissland, John Shepherd and Eisquel Herrera

Background: Research suggests that storybook reading promotes language development and that there is a relationship between maternal affective responses in relation to infant affect and language development. The purpose of this study is to relate maternal paralinguistic and verbal behaviour during storybook reading to maternal mood state.

Method: Mothers (n=32) reporting depressed mood (as measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) were matched on age of baby (mean age = 6 months, mean age = 10 months), sex of baby, educational status of mother and parity with 32 non‐depressed mothers. They were video‐ and audio‐taped in their homes while reading a picture‐book to their infants. Maternal textual and extra‐textual utterances were transcribed and analysed in terms of mean length utterance (MLU), fundamental frequency and pitch modulation.

Results: There was an interaction between psychological well being and age group with regard to MLU for text read. Non‐depressed mothers had a smaller MLU for younger babies in comparison with older babies, while depressed mothers showed no difference in their MLU. There was a main effect of psychological well being with depressed mothers speaking with a higher mean pitch and more modulations in their pitch, in comparison with non‐depressed mothers. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction of the psychological well being of the mother and the mean fundamental frequency used when reading the text and when speaking to their child during the picture‐book session.

Conclusions: These differences in maternal speech indicate that mothers who are depressed are less attuned to their infants which might force the infant into self‐regulatory patterns that eventually compromise the child’s development.