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Top 10 Board Books

Updated on December 2, 2014

The very best board books to share with the little ones in your life

Hands down, books are my absolute favorite baby gift. There's something so special and intimate about passing along a special board book that you read, in some cases millions of times, to your own kids when they were babies. Little ones can have too many toys, too many personalized blankets (as cute as those are...) -- but to my mind, never too many good books.

Choosing 10 favorite board books for this page was tough. There are so many wonderful, enduring works for babies and toddlers (lucky them!). But after much fussing and fretting, I finally pared my list down to 10 beautiful books that should be tucked into the diaper bags, stacked on the bookshelves, and (let's face it) on occasion mashed between the curious little teeth of every boy and girl under 3.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I can't decide what I love most about this book. Eric Carle's vibrant collages, with that memorable payoff at the end? The world's cutest counting lesson? The way Carle has singlehandedly taught generations of children, years before their first science class, how caterpillars become butterflies? Or do I just love the way that little critter packs away the food? [ Can't we all relate? It's like Thanksgiving dinner! Except we humans don't have the impending-metamorphosis excuse ;) ] I'm sure there are even toddlers who've upped their fruit and veggie intake because of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This book rules!

 
Time for Bed
Time for Bed

Ease a reluctant toddler into bed with these gorgeous watercolor paintings of baby animals cuddling with their parents. From sheep to snakes, critters are shown safe and secure in their habitats, ready to nod off. The rhyme scheme is simple and soothing, like a lullaby. Sweet dreams!

 
Big Red Barn
Big Red Barn

Arguably the best-known and most loved board book ever, Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon gets more props, but it's her Big Red Barn that really grabbed my kids. Gentle and rhythmic, it builds a lot of learning (animals and their sounds, colors, relative sizes, and more) into a sweet slice of farm life. This was one of the first books my children began seeking out and "reading" on their own, as toddlers. I never got tired of reading it to them, either. And isn't that the mark of an awesome board book?

 
The Owl and the Pussycat
The Owl and the Pussycat

At dinner recently with close relatives, we realized that although our kids have all outgrown board books (some by many years), all the adults at the table could recite this quirky-classic Edward Lear poem in its entirety. Why? Jan Brett's delightful Caribbean-style illustrations made the rhymes sing for our kids--and us--when they were little. Everything this brilliant kids' artist does is worth collecting, but if you're not familiar with her work, The Owl and the Pussycat is a great place to start.

 
The Snowy Day Board Book
The Snowy Day Board Book

For a child, there's nothing like waking up to find the world blanketed in silvery white snow--a feeling captured perfectly in this 1963 Caldecott winner by Ezra Jack Keats. The plot is simple and timeless: A little boy wanders in the snow, making footprints and angels, and tries to save a piece of the experience in the form of a snowball. It all makes you pine for the days before scheduled playdates and extracurriculars, when kids could meander and explore. I love Keats's classy, playful mixed-media illustrations so much I once bought a pack of notecards featuring them--and promptly used them all up for teacher thank-yous and congratulatory notes to new parents.

 
Good Night, Gorilla
Good Night, Gorilla

It's closing time at the zoo in this near-wordless tale. The zookeeper locks up and is promptly pickpocketed by a mischievous young gorilla, who uses the keys to free his animal pals one by one. They all quietly follow the zookeeper home, and in the best one-page intro to inferencing a 2-year-old will ever get, the zookeeper's wife discovers they've joined the couple in bed. The boldly colored illustrations are great, and kids will love finding recurring elements in each (the little mouse, the pink balloon). My oldest son got this as a gift from one of his aunts, and it quickly became a favorite.

 
The Carrot Seed Board Book
The Carrot Seed Board Book

The colors are spare, the drawings simple. What makes this book a must is its message: Have faith. Keep trying. Believe in yourself. In this Ruth Krauss classic, a little boy plants a carrot seed that nobody else believes will come up. Reading this, you kinda want to punch those naysayers in the nose, but none of it matters when, in a thrilling climax for little listeners, a gargantuan carrot pops up to reward our hero's efforts. So there! :-)

 

Make sure baby's books don't get lost at child care, or anywhere else. Personalize adhesive children's bookplates in a flash and stick them on inside front or back book covers as an adorable but unobtrusive ID. Labels feature kids' artwork and benefit Save the Children.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Another masterpiece in illustration from Eric Carle, here's a book that's inspired a thousand preschool art projects. Colorful tissue-collage characters nudge readers through a sweet, simple story that incorporates rhyming, colors, and animal ID. After a few readings, wee ones will love predicting which creature is coming up next. Also fun for a memory game--how many can they recite in sequence, without looking? (Be forewarned, your 2-year-old will probably beat you at this game!) I've never met a toddler who didn't love this book or its equally fun companion, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

 
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You : Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises (Bright and Early Board Books)
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You : Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises (Bright and Early Board Books)

Parenting (or teaching) little kids, there are days when you just want to cross the finish line and collapse into bed. What happened--you wonder, scraping pureed peas off the wall--to that relaxed, playful parent you'd hoped to be? Prescription: a little no-holds-barred nonsense. And who else but Dr. Seuss to deliver it? The multitalented Mr. Brown can imitate not merely a mooing cow, but a frying egg, a squeaky shoe, a gum-chewing hippo, a smooching goldfih. And so can you, when you read this splendidly silly book to your kids. Ham it up! You'll feel much better.

 
The Runaway Bunny
The Runaway Bunny

I don't know what the psychologists think: Is Margaret Wise Brown playing apologist here for overprotective, controlling moms? Nah. It's just an incredibly poetic depiction of how strong the bonds of love are between parent and child--and how those are "portable." A little bunny teases and tests his mama with "what if" scenarios about running away. She responds with one imaginative comeback after another. I especially love the idea, illustrated beautifully, that if the bunny turns himself into a bird, mom will become a tree for him to fly home to.

 

Bonus Top 10!

10 Reasons to Read to a Baby

It boosts vocabulary. (The more stories you read aloud, the more words a child will be exposed to.)

It teaches about communication.

It builds listening skills, attention, and memory.

It introduces early learning concepts (numbers, letters, colors, shapes) in a fun way.

It encourages independent reading down the road: Kids who are read to in their early years are more likely to read themselves, at the appropriate time.

It can soothe nerves and decrease stress (both yours and the baby's).

It promotes social and emotional development, as baby hears you using different emotions and expressive sounds in reading aloud.

It gives little ones information about the world around them, from homes like theirs to the zoo, the circus, a jungle, a farm...

It sparks an enjoyment of art, through illustrations using a variety of media.

Best of all: It makes a connection between books and the things your baby loves most--your voice, and the feeling of being close to you.

Adapted in part from "Reading Books to Babies," kidshealth.org

Have I included any of your favorite books? Have I left off a masterpiece? Please share...

What do you think?

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    • profile image

      MeInABook 4 years ago

      I think another great addition to your lens would be a place where we could all vote for our favorites. it would be interesting to see which ones juggle for the top 5 spots over time.

    • profile image

      MeInABook 4 years ago

      The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite in our house. Lots of great books here. Our kids used to cliimb up in our laps for a great story. I think reading to them a lot as a kid really helped them develop a love of reading. One of the best programs I've seen lately is the one at helptoread.net. A great phonics program plus reading to them constantly really hooks them in . Thanks for the great lens!

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 5 years ago

      Eric Carle is great. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lots of fond memories. Thanks for sharing.

    • intermarks profile image

      intermarks 5 years ago

      I bought the book Mr Brown Can moo for my son, and he liked it so much.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Very nice lens, well done! squidlike

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      The Owl and the Pussycat was always my favorite. Thank you, this is fantastic!

    • smithlights profile image

      smithlights 6 years ago

      I think Sandra Boynton writes my favorite board books. But your list is great too. Thanks!

    • profile image

      nsixx99 6 years ago

      Brown Bear, Brown Bear is an absolute favorite in our house. I love board books because my son is so hard on everything, thanks for the list.

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 6 years ago from Chicago area

      @victoriuh: much still hasn't been done, but you may need to drill down on topics .... for instance, try crafting a 5 best board book list about farms - or cars -- or ballerinas .... you get the idea :) welcome to Squidoo -- it's a lot of fun!

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 6 years ago

      Lol, I just did a top 5 board books lens myself. I am new here and starting to realize almost everything has been done. You have three of my family's favorites in your list too. I agree that books are the best gifts!

    • verymary profile image
      Author

      Mary 6 years ago from Chicago area

      @anonymous: thx for the heads-up! this confused me. but then I figured out that Amazon is now auto-listing (on pages like this one) the lowest price available thru its sellers for a new copy of each item. this would be fine, except that the sellers charge 3.99 shipping, so in reality, if you're ordering $25+ total in merch. and qualifying for free shipping, the "higher" Amazon price is often your best bet. for my book purchases, I do the math on this each time. it takes a minute, but you do save $ over time thru these calculations.

      some of the most popular board books (e.g. Big Red Barn) might be cheaper at Walmart. otherwise, I think Amazon's pricing is competitive, whether thru its sellers or the regular prices. unfortunately it's hard to find the best board books under $6 - $7.

    • profile image

      pats21wju1 6 years ago

      Great lens! Really enjoyed the list of top Board Books!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Not one of these books were the price indicated on the list. Each one is several dollars more per book than what squidoo.com shows as amazon price. Pretty disappointing ....

    • profile image

      Ruthi 6 years ago

      I agree, books are the best gift for wee ones. I also like to give puzzles.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice lens.Hands down, books are favorite baby gift. Thanks for sharing. strategic planning software

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Oh, I must say Eric Carle's books are some of the best ever! Great page and some of the books are new to me.

    • Nany Palacio profile image

      Nany Palacio 6 years ago

      Great squidoo lens! thanks for share this valuable information

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA+++++++++++++++. Nice Squid Lens. Chris

    • pacrapacma lm profile image

      pacrapacma lm 6 years ago

      You've included some great books! I'm adding a link to this lens on my recent LOTD Reading Starts at Home lens in a plexo of Good Books for Children from other lensmasters. If you don't see it right away, check back. I might be still working on the plexo.

    • pacrapacma lm profile image

      pacrapacma lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: If a person looks for only the books with super saver shipping, there will be no cost for shipping. Linking to Amazon also gives a great way to see reviews of books. Buying through Amazon is only one option. I personally LOVE the extra information that Amazon gives to a shopper.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great list of books. I'm disappointed you let this site act as a springboard to Amazon. The prices listed are deceptive because they do not include shipping. Children's board books are inexpensive - go to your local, independent bookstore to buy books and teach your children the value of supporting a business that supports the community they live in.

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 6 years ago

      You have selected 10 very good books. "The Carrot Seed" is an oldie but goodie that I still need to get for our home collection. *blessed*

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great lens. I love the illustration at the top of the page of the Owl and the Cat.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Excellent choice. Not easy to keep it to 10.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Excellent choice. Not easy to keep it to 10.

    • profile image

      eridqua 7 years ago

      Certainly tough to narrow it down to a top ten! The Sandra Boynton books are some of our family's favorites.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 7 years ago from Idaho

      These look like a great selection of childrens books, well chosen! :)

      Linda

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      very cute lens...5*...I always "make" a book and illustrate and write as the baby being the subject, I make a foldout flower with the babies photo in it...they are a big hit.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 8 years ago from Canada

      I just stopped by to wish you, and those who surround you with love, a very merry holiday season. Many blessings in the New Year.

      Ladymermaid

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      These are all wonderful!!! My son still has his copy of The Runaway Bunny, Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My daughter loved Goodnight Moon. She still quotes that book! Great Lens, Wonderful books!!!

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 8 years ago

      Hi: I read the sumaries of your board books, I want to get something for my grandaughters, I gave you 5 stars and I will lens roll ,great work. thanks Anna

    • profile image

      writergirl2911 8 years ago

      Enjoyed seeing the books you included on your list. I agree - it is tough to narrow it down. I added your lens to mine - it's my first and is a list of 11 toddler books my little girl had chosen as her favorites (at least right now) :) Feel free to stop by and let me know what you think if you get a moment: http://www.squidoo.com/toddlerboardbooks

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hi! It's nice to find another books for babies' lens! Hope you can visit my lens:Books For Babies!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 8 years ago

      What a great collection. I can see why it was so hard to choose a top10 selection. 5*****

    • ILoveLegosToo profile image

      Tom Fattes 8 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Great selection of books. Lensrolling to my Eric Carle lens.

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      Awesome selection you've chosen here! I loved the Owl and the PussyCat! Fun books!

    • LindaBee LM profile image

      LindaBee LM 8 years ago

      A great selection of books. I will be reading many of them to my granddaughter.

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      I actually still have Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? from childhood! It was one of my favorites and was excited to see it here! This is wonderful! What a great collection of books for children. Makes me glad I stopped in :)

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Good job! you used one of my ideas in your bonus, but I had already decided to do something else. Some of my favorite board books were on your list. I think the Carrot Seed is my favorite.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Love it!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      You've chosen some really great books here. Brings back a lot of memories!

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Wonderful! Great Ideas for Gifts and Everyday! :)

    • profile image

      myraggededge 8 years ago

      Aw... they are lovely. There's something special about board books. I can even remember my own from forty....er..something years ago!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Oh my gosh, how delightful! Several of these are my faves too. I will be sending some to Lily. Thank you so much for your cheerleading of my lens about her too! Beautiful lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      Beautiful, you've managed to include many of our favorite books on your list...the difference being that they weren't available as board books when my guys were little! Blessed.