Toddler and baby board books are a great invention. They are sturdy, somewhat chewable and a great introduction to reading for young children. They can tell stories or teach colors, numbers, letters and anything else in life that is relevant to their target audience. When your child outgrows these books you may decide to put them away, but don’t get rid of them quite yet. They get a second life when your child is first learning to read.
We went through many board books when our son was little. Some were so dull that I’ve blissfully forgotten them, but others were real standouts. In no particular order, here are the ones we loved so much that they made the cut and didn’t get sent to Goodwill.
1. Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann – A fresh take on Goodnight, Moon, the beloved classic which we never really enjoyed. In Good Night, Gorilla, a zookeeper says goodnight to all the animals as the gorilla tiptoes behind him and unlocks the cages. The animals follow the zookeeper home, where they try to crawl into his bed for the night. Toddlers who are old enough to understand the story think it’s hilarious.
2. What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby? by Cressida Cowell – A set of animals tries to figure out how to get a baby to stop crying. This was a surprise favorite.
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This classic story teaches counting and days of the week as a very hungry caterpillar eats and eats and eats… Definitely a keeper.
4. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. – This book is also illustrated by Eric Carle and it teaches colors. I didn’t think it was as good as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but it proved to be useful for reading practice later.
5. One Hungry Monster by Susan Heyboer O’Keefe – A very funny counting book in rhyme. Maybe after reading this book, your toddler won’t be quite so scared of the one hungry monster underneath his bed.
6. Ten Little Dinosaurs by Pattie Schnetzler – “Ten little dinosaurs bouncing on the bed. Pachycephalosaurus fell off and broke his head!” This is another very clever counting book. My husband found a website with audio clips on how to correctly pronounce dinosaur names. This book was not a favorite of our son until he started kindergarten, at which point he asked us to read it so many times we could all quote it from memory.
7. Dr Seuss’s ABC’s – This little alphabet book is a hoot! The board book is a condensed version of the longer book originally written by Dr. Seuss. The shorter (board book) version is better because they fixed some metrical problems. Heads up: If you did not learn phonics as a child, you may find words like “Fiffer-feffer-feff” a little frustrating, but your kids will love it!
8. The Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown – This read aloud is calm, soothing and just right for bedtime. This was one of our son’s favorites and mine, too. I still remember how it began:
There was a little fur family
warm as toast
smaller than most
in little fur coats
and they lived in an old wooden tree.
Are you sleepy, yet?
If I missed your family’s favorite, please add them in the comments. Coming up next: Ten Favorite Picture Books.