June 16, 2015

50+ Board Books to Read to Your Baby & Toddler (Without Losing Your Mind!)

50+ Board Books to Read to Your Baby & Toddler (Without Losing Your Mind!) - A round-up of GREAT children's literature in board book form. All titles guaranteed to be twaddle-free.

We've all been there, right? Reading the same monotonous book over and over again to your baby. This is why I'm super selective about what books I buy or check out at the library for my girls. No "Elmo's Favorite Shirt" or "Count with Hello Kitty" for us (I don't actually know if either of those books exist, but you catch my drift!).

I try really, really hard to pick great kids' books. Classic ones, ones that instill good values, ones that have beautiful illustrations, ones that teach them something. And yeah, sometimes even on a good book, after the 19th time through I'll just keep reciting it with my eyes closed, but at least none of the books on this list make me want to chuck the book across the room!

And because we've had enough busts at the library (I mean, when you're picking in a hurry, while holding a wiggly toddler by an elbow, sometimes you accidentally pick twaddle), I thought that providing YOU with a curated list of genuinely great kids' books might simplify your life! Every one of these titles is either in our home collection, or we've checked it out from our library.

So browse the list, reserve a few of them at the library, and enjoy some awesome book time with your baby!

Books for the very youngest of readers.

High contrast illustrations and simple words are a must for little babies.

Hello, Bugs! -- Part of a series which also includes Hello, Animals!, this is mostly black and white, with brightly colored foil accents, and a cute critter on each page.

I Kissed the Baby! -- So sweet - with lots of cute animals excited to kiss a baby. (Which naturally will lead to some kissing of your own baby!)

Colors -- We own several in the Flip-A-Face series, including Big Little and Baby Talk. I just noticed there's a Baby Animals one too! The bold primary colors, and easy-to-turn die-cut pages, will have even tiny babies reaching for them.

Hugs and Kisses -- I love how much babies love looking at pictures of other babies. This one has TONS of babies with their pets (including dogs, cats, birds, etc), and a cute rhyming text.

Babies -- Continuing in the books about babies theme. I enjoyed Gyo Fujikawa's beautiful illustrations when I was a kid, and it's fun to share them with my girls now.

First 100 Words -- When both of my girls were too little to roll over, I'd prop this huge board book open in front of them for tummy time. They would be enthralled, staring at each page when I turned it. And Juliet (20 months), still loves it. She'll pull it out, and happily name the items on each page.

Books for Animal Lovers

Juliet can't get enough of these books about animals.

Dear Zoo -- Somehow I'd never read this one till Juliet got it as a present. The flaps keep her entertained, and a love her cute growling noise for the lion page.

The Babies and Doggies Book -- Have you ever hashtagged a picture of your crawling baby making messes with #puppybaby? I have. And this book cracks me up, because clearly other people's babies remind them of puppies too.

Moo Baa La La La -- This classic is bound to provoke giggles. Also it allows you to snort and snuff like a rhinoceros!

Honk Honk! Baa Baa! -- I LOVE all of Petr Horacek's books. His Suzy Goose series is so funny, and his illustrations are just exquisite. This one is a high-contrast flap book which introduces a bunch of farm animals.

Little Blue Truck -- This one is a win-win for truck lovers AND animal lovers, since it includes both kinds of sounds! It's wordier than any of these other animal books (Juliet still won't quite sit through the whole thing), but it has really pretty pictures, and appeals to older toddlers.

Daddy Kisses -- Adorable illustrations of animal daddies kissing their animal babies. I dare you to try to read this one WITHOUT kissing your own baby on the head/paw/neck/etc.

Books for Touchy-Feely Kids

Books with lots of textures and lift-the-flaps are great for restless readers.

Five Little Ducks! This has fuzzy ducks, cut-outs to poke at, and really neat illustrations, with lots of circles in the background. Warning: you may or may not get the "5 little ducks went out to play..." song stuck in your head though!

My Best-Ever Alphabet Book -- Juliet got this for her first birthday, and we've read it hundreds of times. And I swear, every time we read it, we find a new detail we've never noticed! Even Eleanor (who's 5 now), loves opening the flaps, touching things, sliding the little doors, etc. Just a word of caution though - it's not a great one to let a baby read on their own. Ours is missing a few doors now!

Touch and Feel Birthday -- This makes a great first or second birthday present! What kid doesn't like to talk about birthdays? And it has more differing textures than the animal one.

That's Not My Monster -- I love this one so much. Some of the monsters feel squishy, some soft, some like velcro. We also have That's Not My Bunny from this series, and it's really cute too.

My Best-Ever Book of Things That Go -- Inspired by the success of the alphabet one, I got this at the library. Juliet still liked it, but she's just not really into trucks and stuff. I bet little boys would go nuts for this one though!

Pat the Bunny -- A quintessential classic for a reason. It's just such a sweet little book, with such fun different textures!

Great Learning Books

Teach ABCs, animals, colors, geography, Jesus, and more, via these awesome board books.

Guess Who! -- I've given several of the books in the It's a Small World series as gifts. This one introduces animals with their native habitats, and has whimsical illustrations and a mirror on each page - sure to mesmerize any baby! I love that it gives a little info about each different country the animals are from.

Colors -- the Bright Baby books are all excellent for learning. We have Shapes, Colors, Animals, and several more - some of them have touch-and-feel textures, and they all have clear photographs, with bright bold backgrounds.

Maisy's Amazing Big Book of Words -- We are HUGE Maisy fans around here. I think we probably own at least fifteen Maisy books. This one is our new favorite, and it is genuinely amazing, although it *isn't* a board book. So just FYI -- but I accidentally put it in my collage image above, so I felt like I had to list it, ha! There are lots of cute Maisy board books though - we particularly like Maisy's Tractor and Where Are Maisy's Friends?

Jesus Loves Me -- If you're looking for a simple book to teach your baby about Jesus's love, this one is great. The words can be sung to the tune of the song "Jesus Loves Me", and it has really friendly illustrations.

Dr. Seuss's ABC -- I actually have a bone to pick with the Dr. Seuss Board Books in general, I hate the abridgement. See my rant on this subject here. So I hesitantly recommend this one. On the one hand: Dr. Seuss is amazing! And kids should be introduced to him early! On the other hand, the picture book version of Dr. Seuss's ABCis not abridged, and is better. Maybe buy both? Or just buy Mr. Brown Can Moo! which is better in board book form.

Larry Loves San Francisco -- I'm all about reinforcing experiences through book-reading, and we bought this one for Juliet on our recent trip to San Francisco. Larry also loves Chicago and New York, if you would rather teach your kids about a different location!

Books That are Classic (or Should Be)

Some books that I love, and that I'm still not tired of, even after countless readings.

Goodnight Moon - I can recite this entire book to you, no problem. Something about its rhythmic cadence is just perfect for bedtime. I usually just sit with my eyes closed, holding the baby, whispering the words more and more quietly as she turns the pages.

Meeow and the Blue Table - the Meeow books are just brilliant. Vivid illustrations, and clever imagining, they're great for any toddler.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? -- I like this one a little better than some of Carle's more famous titles (Hungry Caterpillar, et al). Although I'm not quite sure that I'm making the flamingo's fluting noise quite right. I should probably google that.

Sleepyhead -- If you've ever tried to put a toddler that "wasn't tired" to bed, you will totally relate to this book.

Where? -- This one isn't a classic like Frederick or Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, but most of Leo Lionni's books aren't available as board books, and this one introduces his signature mouse-art.

Sheep in a Jeep -- Beep! Beep! I love the sheep. What is not to love about reading this fun book?

Jamberry -- Similarly fun to read, Jamberry is whimsical onomatopoeia at its finest. And all of my younger brothers and sisters and my girls have loved it.

Bear Snores On -- I'm basically in love with all of Karma Wilson's books. I'm so excited that they just released a board book boxed set of Bear books. Juliet is totally getting this for her birthday.

Pride and Prejudice -- I really like these series of classics in board book form from Baby Lit. They have charming illustrations, and a really nice feel, plus it's fun as a parent to read something that touches on classics we've read! We own P&P and Romeo and Juliet (for obvious reasons)... I'm also eyeballing a few others for purchase -- maybe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Anna Karenina.

Drummer Hoff -- I don't know how many times I read this as a kid, and I never realized that the inept soldiers blow themselves all up. I looked it up, and the book was written as a protest to Vietnam. But kids won't notice that. They'll just enjoy the repetitive language and gorgeous woodcut illustrations.

Books That Will Make You Laugh

Because they're funny, or because they're really cute.

Blue Hat, Green Hat -- My youngest brother is 12 years younger than me, and he used to laugh SO hard when I read this to him. Silly turkey!

Five Stinky Socks -- Who uses socks to wash dishes? This silly monster! The bright illustrations and funny story are kid gold.

My First Batman Book -- Noel is a huge Batman fan, so friends gave us this when Eleanor was a baby. It cracks me up. (Although admittedly Eleanor could say "Bruce Wayne" before she was 2, so if you're looking to indoctrinate your kids in Batman legend...

Tickle -- All of Leslie Patricelli's Baby books are funny. Eleanor finds Potty particularly hilarious, and I like Tubby. But Tickle is a family favorite - because we all know certain little girls who claim not to be ticklish, just like Baby in the book.

Clap Your Hands -- You can't read this book without acting it out, and there is nothing more adorable than a two year old trying to wiggle their eyebrows and nose.

Goose Needs a Hug --  Ah duck, always so hilariously oblivious. Goose just needs a hug, but Duck thinks of all kinds of other things to cheer him up. All the books in this series are sweetly funny.

Three Final Favorites

I'm running out of time! I've been working on this post for more than three hours, and I just keep thinking of more and more and more board books we love. But I have to stop somewhere, so I'll end with these three.

The Snowy Day -- Keats' collage art is breathtaking, and I've passionately loved his books ever since childhood -- especially since I read a quote where Keats (who was Jewish), said that he wrote books starring kids of color, because there just weren't any back in the 60s, and he didn't think it was fair.

Good Dog Carl -- The lack of text makes it perfect to fill in the story however you want to. And the adventures of the baby are super cute, plus the watercolor painting of the illustrations is so charming. Although really? Who leaves a dog in charge?! I mean, I guess it was written in the 80s... pre-helicopter-parenting...

Listen, Listen! -- I cannot overemphasize the awesomeness of this book. It teaches seasons, it has gorgeous artwork, it has lovely text, and it's just really cool. I highly, highly recommend it.

What did I leave out? Tell me your favorites in the comments!

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