If you’re looking for classic nursery rhymes, there are so many fantastic books to choose from. From traditional nursery rhymes like you’ll find with mother goose, to popular nursery rhymes from the 1970’s that are more modern. These are the very best mother goose and other nursery rhyme books I could find. I read though them each myself to check them out for you! I’ve put together a list of the very best ones!
*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Each section has quite a few recommended books. Scroll through them all, or jump to a specific section here:
Slide and Find Nursery Rhymes by Make Believe Ideas is a sturdy little board book that came out in 2018. It is one of my all time favourite nursery rhyme books. I love this book for many reasons. It has slide and find features that babies and toddlers love to play with as you read. It’s got engaging pictures and some of the very best rhymes: hickory dickory dock, hey diddle diddle, the itsy bitsy spider, twinkle twinkle little star, and row row row your boat. It’s short and sweet for a nice bedtime story book for your baby or toddler. Even preschoolers enjoy this one since the sliders can peek out above the pages
This book has such fun dynamic images that accompany some of the best classic mother goose rhymes. It’s a great board book you and your little one can enjoy reading and page turning together. The book features 14 of the best nursery rhymes: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; Humpty Dumpty; Little Miss Muffet; Rockabye Baby; Sing a Song of Sixpence; Ladybird; Pussycat, Pussycat; Jack and Jill; Baa Baa Black Sheep; Hey Diddle Diddle; Rain, Rain, Go Away; Mary Had a Little Lamb; Pat A Cake and Hickory Dickory Dock.
This is another great option if you’re looking for lots of classic mother goose rhymes. This picture book has large illustrations that accompany each rhyme. Paper pages are obviously more fragile than a board book would be, but it allows for so many more pages to fit in this book. It’s much longer than the first two on the list, it’s a big book of nursery rhymes and it could be fun to read a few at a time together with your family or students. It doesn’t contain any questionable material like “three blind mice”. The only one that may raise your eyebrows is jack be nimble if you’re not a fan of the candle stick jumping. The rest are all pretty tame.
The illustrations in this book span both pages. They are bright and eye-catching. The images feature lots of sweet looking little animals. I personally think they even managed to make the spider in “little miss muffet” look sort of cute (but maybe that’s just me). This would make a perfect gift for a baby shower or for a baby’s first birthday as a first book of nursery rhymes. You can’t go wrong with this cute book.
Young readers love lifting the flaps on this type of chunky board book, which helps them build up their finger dexterity! This book includes 5 simple nursery rhymes: Jack and Jill, Hey Diddle Diddle, Humpty Dumpty, Wee Willie Winkie, and Hickory Dickory Dock. It’s a great little book for bedtime reading.
Eric Carle famously gave us the hungry little caterpillar book. If you like the gorgeous illustrations in that book you are sure to love this one too. This book features a selection of rhymes: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Hickory Dickory Dock, The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and The Wheels on the Bus. Although not all of these rhymes are mother goose they are all certainly well loved classics!
Baby’s First Playtime Songs features six great nursery rhymes: The Wheels on the Bus, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, I’m a Little Tea Pot, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pat-a-Cake, and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. It’s a whole sensory experience for your little one, they can push buttons, hear songs and sing along with you, what great fun! This delightful book can be enjoyed solo by even the youngest readers.
This is a classic mother goose book that contains just about the entire mother goose treasury, my only word of caution is that it contains ALL the originals. For example, if you’re like me and you don’t like the three blind mice rhyme (in-which they have their tails cut off with a knife) you may want to steer clear of this book, or at the very least be sure to skip that page. I’m sure it contains all your favorite nursery rhymes since it has so many! This book is over 125 pages of colorful illustrations and rhymes. Some of the classic mother goose rhymes have a very strange origin story which leads me to the next book on this list.
9. Half for You and Half for Me: Best-loved Nursery Rhymes and the Stories Behind Them by Katherine Govier
This book is super unique. Have you ever wondered ‘where did mother goose rhymes come from?’ It contains all the classic mother goose rhymes and also a story about where each of them originated, its definitely a large treasury of nursery rhymes. For instance, I read in this book that the rhyme: here we go ‘round the mulberry bush came from a prison: “There was a mulberry tree in the yard of Her Majesty’s Prison at Wakefield, Yorkshire, England. The female prisoners exercised around it.” Fascinating stuff for an adult to learn about and definitely engaging for older children who are curious too.
This is book is a great little rendition of the popular classic rhyme: Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird… It has dark coloured moody illustrations that reflect the scene of a baby who just won’t stop crying and parents and a big sister who are trying everything to make that baby happy!
Continuing on our list of the best nursery rhyme books, here are a selection that don’t necessarily belong in the mother goose section!
This book has sweet pictures and five fun sliders that little fingers will love to play with. It even has a QR code you can scan to play the song for you so that you can sing along with it. This whole series by Nosy Crow is perfect for little hands to engage with. What a great way to wind down before bedtime.
Another sing along book with sliders. Like the other Nosy Crow books in this series, the Itsy Bitsy Spider comes with a QR code so you can listen to an instrumental version as you sing along with this book. There are so many things to stop and point to in this book to help build vocabulary by familiarizing your child with images.
Head shoulders knees and toes is definitely another great classic nursery rhyme. The song is helpful to learn about the names of our different body parts. The sliders are good practice for little fingers to build fine motor skills.
The pictures in this book feature a cute little trio of animals going for a fun journey down the stream. It’s a relaxing song and the perfect way to end your evening as your little one uses the sliders for extra entertainment and you sing them off to sleep.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat is the last one from this sing along with me book series from Nosy Crow I will highlight, but there are a few more in the series if you’re interested like: five little ducks, old Mac Donald, The Wheels on the Bus and Hickory Dickory Dock.
Baby beluga is such a wonderful Raffi original song that has become a modern classic. The images make it a truly beautiful book and feature the beluga whales swimming in the ocean and the northern lights.
Have you ever seen a bear combing his hair down by the bay? The song Down by the Bay might have originated before WWI but it was made famously popular by Raffi in the version he sung and that has been written in this book. The rhyme, rhythm and repetition in this book makes it such a great read for young children.
Five little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away… the ducks are such vibrant colours in this book they easily capture and hold attention. It’s a good thing these board books from Raffi are sturdy, this is one my family had read over and over, this great book never gets old.
The wheels on the bus turn round and round all through the town! I love the intricate pictures in this book that you can stop and talk about as you read. You can stop to see what each character is doing and who is getting on and off the bus. Beep beep!
This beautiful classic song illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church is a fantastic sturdy little board book. The original country song became an instant hit in the 1940’s when it was released and is still special to so many parents and children today.
The cover of this book shines with reflective material that will let your little one see the twinkle of these stars. The rest of this book features images the regular classic words of this song we all know and love for a short and sweet sing along you can enjoy together.
A classic rhyme… with a twist! This book is written to the tune of “Rock-a-Bye, Baby,” and it features all sorts of dinosaurs getting ready to go to bed. You can learn the name of a different dinosaur species on each page and sing a classic tune at the same time.
Another classic rhyme with a big twist. Twinkle twinkle little shark, swimming deep down in the dark… If you like the classic nursery rhyme and your little one likes sharks this book is sure to be a big hit!
This classic nursery rhyme is transformed into a much longer story by Mary Ann Hoberman. It’s become a favourite in my own household. The eensy weensy spider starts off going down the water spout and then the rhyme pattern continues on each page after as she goes on different adventures like meeting a frog in a pond, joining a bug parade, and buying shoes before she eventually settles down for a good nights sleep at home.