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Originally published Friday, April 9, 2010 at 7:02 PM

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'Best Books for Babies' releases 2010 list

Kids' books: Beginning With Books, a literacy organization that focuses on spotlighting the best books for the youngest readers has released its latest list of "Best Books for Babies."

Scripps Howard News Service

If you're looking for wonderful books to read to your baby or toddler, check out the latest list of "Best Books for Babies."

The list was just published by Beginning With Books, a Pittsburgh literacy organization that is the only group in the country to focus solely on spotlighting the best books for the youngest readers. For example, while many winners of the Caldecott Medal are picture books, few of the winners are suitable for babies and toddlers, as Caldecott committee members must consider books suitable for children through age 14.

The Beginning With Books committee, meanwhile, focuses solely on what's best for babies and toddlers. Each year, a group of children's experts — including librarians, child-development specialists and others — culls through the thousands of children's books published annually and publishes a list of the best books for babies and toddlers.

Beginning With Books began the "Best Books for Babies" lists 11 years ago, inspired by the late Fred Rogers. Last year, to celebrate the first decade of the "Best Books for Babies" endeavor, the group published a list of 25 favorites, "The Best of the Best Books for Babies." The lists can be found at www.beginningwithbooks.org.

So, what makes a great book for babies and toddlers? The Beginning With Books experts note that a "story should sound good when read aloud," "a book should encourage reader participation and interaction" and "the illustrations should be a perfect match for the text."

Also, children's books "should be free from gender, ethnic, racial and religious stereotypes," and should reflect children's "lives and experiences, as well [as] ... the diversity of the larger society."

Here's a closer look at the "Best Books for Babies 2010." The books, all published in 2009, are listed alphabetically. Comments about the books are adapted from the Beginning With Books citations:

• "All Fall Down," "Clap Hands," "Tickle, Tickle" and "Say Goodnight" (Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, $7.99 each), written and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. First published years ago, this re-released quartet features charming illustrations and short, simple stories that focus on some of the typical activities of adorable, ethnically diverse babies in a day-care setting.

• "Baby Woof Woof!" (DK, $6.99), written by Dawn Sirett. Tabbed pages, sturdy flaps, crisp, clear photographs and bright colors add up to a book that babies will enjoy examining again and again.

• "Carry Me" (Star Bright Books, $6.95), written by Rena Grossman. Attractive photographs show parents and children from around the world while showcasing all the different ways that babies can be carried (and cuddled).

• "Daddy, Papa, and Me" and "Mommy, Mama, and Me" (Tricycle Press, $7.99 each), written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson. The parent-child bond is celebrated in two books that feature same-sex parents, appealing illustrations and everyday activities.

• "Hello Baby!" (Beach Lane Books, $16.99), written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Lighthearted rhyming questions provide the opportunity to take a close look at all kinds of animals, creatively pictured in cut paper collages.

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• "In My Nest" and "In My Pond" (Chronicle Books, $8.99), written by Sara Gillingham and illustrated by Lorena Siminovich. These two titles feature sturdy finger puppets and artfully designed die-cut pages to put their young narrators squarely in the center of their stories — and their families.

• "The Little Dump Truck" (Henry Holt, $12.99), written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Bob Kolar. Bright, blocky illustrations and rollicking, rhyming text bring the world of heavy machines to life for the littlest listeners.

• "Lola at the Library" (Charlesbridge, $7.95), written by Anna McQuinn and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. Soft, bright paintings and a simple story share the fun that Lola and her mom have as they pick out books and listen to stories.

• "Posy" Atheneum, $16.99), written by Linda Newbery and illustrated by Catherine Rayner. A poetic, playful text and sweet, scratchy illustrations bring this mischievous kitten, along with her mom and siblings, gloriously to life.

• "What Colors" (Dwell Studio/Blue Apple Books). The innovative accordion-fold design of this clever little book enables readers to turn pages or stretch the book out to admire the colorful silhouettes of appealing animals.

Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, can be reached at Kam.Macpherson@gmail.com.

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