10 of the best books for NICU readers

01 March 2018

10 of the best books for NICU readers

This week we’ve learnt a thing or two about the power of reading to children in the first year of life, and also about the health benefits it can offer to patients and their parents.

To conclude our week-long programme of book-related activity, we asked parents and those involved with NICU reading programmes in neonatal units to name and review their favourite books.

We can now reveal that the top 10 books, as nominated by our NICU readers on World Book Day 2018, are, in no particular order:

1. The Wonderful Things You Will Be - Emily Winfield-Martin

This inspirational story explores the spectrum of childhood possibility and the unconditional love that parents feel for their child whoever or whatever they become.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the rhyming verses make it an easy and enjoyable book to share with your child. The book highlights the importance of kindness, bravery and intelligence so reading it with your child is an excellent way of communicating these positive values from an early age.

2. Dear Zoo - Rod Campbell

It’s been about thirty years since I last read this book but this classic lift-the-flap book is still as charming today as it was then. As you turn the pages and lift the flaps you are introduced to the animals from the zoo, some scary ones and some naughty ones. It’s a lovely book for toddlers and parents to enjoy and that’s why this classic is appearing in our top 10 books for NICU readers.

3. I Was a Preemie Just Like You - Ali Dunn

Written by a mum of preemie twins, this book reads like a beautiful poem. It explains, in detail, a preemie’s NICU journey, but in a playful way that will appeal to children. For example, “Tubes helped me breathe and gave my lungs a jump-start. A magic bed kept me warm. Monitors watched my heart.” A book that will help explain to children what happens when a baby is born too soon. The illustrations that accompany the story are bright and colourful and this would make a wonderful gift for a preemie to read when older.

4. Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney

An extremely popular book with all of our reviewers, the story of the Nutbrown Hares has won many fans over the years and this book is where the popular saying, “I love you to the moon and back” first came from.

It’s a beautiful story about the love a parent and child have for each other and how nothing could ever compare to it. This book is a true classic and one which every family should have in their collection.

5. Peanut: A Storybook for Mighty Preemies - Lindsay Nolan

A firm favourite on many NICU book lists, Peanut is a delight.

“Little baby, I understand that life never goes exactly as planned.” This rhyming book tells of a mother’s love as she watches over her baby on his journey in the NICU. Written by a mother of a preemie, who actually wrote it during her time there, watching her son grow. She also illustrated it herself, so it’s a wonderful record of her feelings and a gift she can give to her child in the future. The story of Peanut is a book all NICU families will treasure for years to come.

6. The Gruffalo - Julia Donaldson

Described as a modern classic, The Gruffalo takes you on an adventure deep into the woods where you’ll meet a number of characters. If your baby has an older sibling, this story told in rhyming verse, is perfect for them to read out loud to baby and an opportunity to try out lots of silly voices when reading the different characters parts. And once you’ve finished The Gruffalo, there’s the sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child...

7. On The Night You Were Born - Nancy Tillman

“There had never been anyone like you...ever in the world.” A lovely board book that lets every child know just how special they are...just as they are. Perfect for bedtime reading, as the beautiful illustrations are like something from a dream themselves. This book is about the world celebrating the birth of a new baby and would bring comfort to parents in the neonatal unit.

8. Good Things Come in Small Packages - Candy Campbell

An inspirational short story about a preemie boy who learns about his difficult beginnings and the meaning of love.

I would recommend this book for parents of preemies and poorly babies to read to their child; your child may be able to identify the similarities between this story and their own journey, and feel reassured that they are not alone and they are strong.

9. Each Peach Pear Plum - by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

A timeless picture book that has all the classic nursery rhyme characters involved in a great wee rhyming story. It’s beautifully illustrated and it’s one that is soon remembered off by heart. This book was always a favourite of my own children who always wanted to hear it over and over again. It’s a perfect read for NICU as repetition and rhyme are good for long term language development.

10. The Monkey Puzzle - Julia Donaldson

From the author of The Gruffalo, a little Monkey has lost their Mum and a little butterfly sets out to help to find her. A great little rhyming story, but one that puts a little smile on your face. Rhyming stories are good as these can help develop communication skills from a young age.