The Best Books for Soon-to-Be
Big Brothers and Sisters

by Iva-Marie Palmer

Photo credit: Mike Harrington, Taxi/Getty Images

When we told our son Clark that he would become a big brother — showing him ultrasound images and explaining that my belly would get bigger as the baby grew — he took it well, maybe better than we expected. “But that’s such a long time,” he complained, when we told him his new sibling wouldn’t arrive for six more months. Excitement. This was good.

Still, there were other signs that maybe the news was causing him anxiety. He was clingy when I dropped him off at daycare, and sometimes paid an excess amount of attention to my belly. (“I’m just patting it!” he’d protest, when we said maybe he was being a little too aggressive.) Later, when we told him we’d be having another boy, he said, “But you already have a boy…”

Reading has always been part of our bedtime routine, and we’re lucky that books in general figure prominently into Clark’s life. So we ordered a few online, and told him they were gifts from his soon-to-be baby brother. (Maybe it’s a little weird to imagine an in-the-womb child sending away for books online, but the attention seemed to flatter Clark. And technology nowadays is a miracle.)

Storytime has been a great way to encourage the big brother-to-baby bond; it’s when I let Clark feel for the baby’s kicks, talk to the baby, and snuggle up to me, and when I remind him that he’ll always be my baby, too.

In addition to the new-sibling books that appear on this list, another great pre-baby bonding strategy is to let your child pick out a book — any book he or she likes, or thinks the baby will like — to read “with” the baby. This is a great habit to stick with once the new baby arrives.

That said, here are a few of the new-sibling books we like at our house:

  • Little Big Girl

    by Claire Keane

    The transition from solo kid to sibling often parallels the transition from little to big, as in becoming a big sister or big brother. In this sweet story that's filled with retro-style illustrations, firstborn Matisse learns what it means to be a big sister and love a new baby with all your heart.

  • Babies Don’t Eat Pizza: A Big Kids’ Book About Baby Brothers and Baby Sisters

    by Dianne Danzig, illustrated by Debbie Tilley

    If you have a toddler who wants to know everything, this is the book for them. Less a storybook than a manual, it gets down to facts as nitty-gritty as how how babies’ eyes can change color in the first year.

  • I’m a Big Sister/I’m a Big Brother

    by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Rosalinda Kightley

    These two books are bestsellers and it’s clear why. They empower first-time older siblings by filling them in on their new role: Mommy and Daddy’s helper with the new baby. If your child is looking for more independence, these titles will show them how a new baby can help with that. Both books are also available in Spanish.

  • Big Brothers Are the Best/Big Sisters Are the Best

    by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Kirsten Richards

    This short-and-sweet board book is a great one for early readers. “Big brothers get cupcakes/Babies get bottles” is one line it uses to explain the benefits of being an older sibling.

  • The New Baby

    by Mercer Mayer

    With the author’s trademark Little Critter humor, this one captures both the joys and the frustrations of having a new baby in the house. For example, the baby is not an instant playmate, cries a lot, and can’t really do much of anything at first. It’s a quick, funny, and real read from a kid’s perspective.

  • What to Expect When Mommy’s Having a Baby

    by Heidi Murkoff, illustrated by Laura Rader

    This one is more a guide than something appropriate for bedtime, but since it’s from the What to Expect When You’re Expecting authors, you know they’ll answer the tough stuff — in fact, they even tackle the “How are babies made?” question.

  • Ready, Set . . . Baby!

    by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Qin Leng

    In Read, Set . . . Baby Anna and Oliver walk readers through what to REALLY expect from life with a new baby in the family. The book pairs a matter-of-fact approach with humorous remarks from the siblings and offers guidance on everything from diaper changes to how to entertain baby to what to do when you've just had enough of baby for the day. Parents will also find additional resources and tips at the end of the book to help kids adjust to their new family dynamic.