Board books are great as first books for the very youngest “readers.” They are made from strong cardboard and can tolerate the heavy wear and tear you can expect from babies and toddlers as they mouth, chew on, and turn the pages. Many children’s books are available in board editions; the books we’ve selected are ones that have interesting illustrations and children can interact with the words by pointing, making sounds, or imitating what is on the page. Even young toddlers love to show you what they know!
Baby Dance by Ann Taylor, Marjorie Van Heerden
Father and daughter dance and sing their way through this poem/song—and you can sing along the words to the tune of “Hush little baby.” Short rhythmic lines and colorful pages make this a favorite. It’s wonderful to see a book celebrating special time with Daddy, too.
White on Black by Tana Hoban
Photographer Tana Hoban relies on black-and-white photos to engage babies and toddlers in this wordless picture book. Simple but stunning images of objects they see every day, like bananas, bath toys, and bottles help little ones make the connection between pictures on a page and the world around them. There are wonderful interactive opportunities as you share this book with your child. For another wordless picture board book by Hoban—but with color this time—try Red Blue Yellow Shoe.
Oops! by David Shannon
Oops! is part of the Diaper David series of board books along with Oh, David! and David Smells! David Shannon brings us his popular David character in his early years. A trouble-maker right from the start, Baby David is always loved by his Mama no matter what trouble he gets himself into. If you–and your kids–love the original David books, these board books are a must.
A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg & Suzanne Bober
Playful, rhyming text accompanies several of Monet’s famous countryside paintings. This book is an excellent introduction to the fine arts, enjoyed by the babies we know best. And if it’s a hit at your house, you’re in luck- Mini Masters is a series of board books which includes many 19th and 20th century artists including Seurat, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Cassatt, Rousseau, Gauguin, Picasso, and Matisse.
Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury
Adorable multicultural babies play together and romp through the day. Lots of interaction for baby, like waving to Mom, waving to Dad, tickle tickle, and “all fall down.” There are several Oxenbury board books, all a good length for reading aloud.
Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
Using eye-catching illustrations and very simple text, the author shows the difference between quiet and loud, to the great delight of young children. The pictures lend themselves to acting out, and babies we know ask to hear it again and again—and like to read it themselves in whispers and loud voices. Yummy/Yucky and Big/Little by the same author are also terrific board books.
Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book by Karen Katz
A cranky little baby is wooed to sleep by counting kisses—and being cuddled, hugged and kissed by all the members of the family along the way (including the cat and dog!). You and your baby can snuggle, practice counting, and naming parts of the body. The illustrations are bright and colorful, and the words are engaging and descriptive. Other good board books by Katz include: Where is Baby’s Belly Button?, Daddy and Me, and What Does Baby Say?
Peek-A-Who? by Nina Laden
In this guessing game board book, babies can see a visual clue to guess who is peeking. Is it a cow? (Peek-a-Moo) or a ghost? (Peek-a-Boo) or a whole crowd of animals? (Peek-a-Zoo). Popular with young toddlers who especially love the mirror at the end for Peek-a-You. Parents and children alike can enjoy the vibrant illustration and rhyming text.
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
In this classic tale, a young bunny decides to run away, and his mother always has a way to find him. Every time he imagines he is something different, his mother comes up with a way to become who ever or whatever is needed to find him: if he’s a flower she’ll be a gardener; if he’s a bird then she’ll be the tree that he comes home to. In the end, he realizes it’s best to stay her little bunny. If only they could stay our little bunnies forever! (And if you’re a knitter, you can knit a baby bunny for your own baby bunny!)