Board books are a genre I pretty much ignored completely prior to Ian being born. I think I dismissed them as boring and dumb, to be honest, and it’s true–some baby books are boring and dumb. But they can be so lovely and so fun, and Ian has grown to absolutely adores them. On Episode 4 of the Sorta Awesome podcast (which is my current favorite; I think you know that because I think I have been talking about it a lot), Megan and Rebekah talked about some of their favorite books for babies…and I had so many favorites I wanted to add to the conversation. (Because, hello, when do I ever get tired of talking about books?)
Also, small disclaimer: I really don’t like Sandra Boynton books. I know that most people love them, and when you head to the board book section of any bookstore, I think Sandra Boynton books take up half the space. But I just don’t like them. In The Bedtime Book, the animals exercise before they go to bed, which is fine, but they exercise AFTER they take baths and brush their teeth! This drives me crazy. I should get over it, but I can’t. It’s the book snob in me coming out. Let’s at least have the books make sense, ok? (I’m being slightly facetious about this. No offense to anyone who loves Sandra Boynton!)
So, without further ado, here are my favorite board books:
- The “BabyLit” books. Each of these books is themed to match a piece of classical literature but conveys a typical “baby book” concept like counting, colors, or sounds. We own Moby Dick (an ocean primer), Romeo & Juliet, and Pride & Prejudice (which are both counting books). If you’ve read the classics, these are super entertaining for the grown-ups, too. (I almost never get tired of saying, “Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy” in my fake British accent.)
- Dear Zoo. This was gifted to us at one of my baby showers, and we read it almost daily for awhile. It’s a “lift the flap” book, and Ian loves to see what animal is hidden underneath. I like this one because it doesn’t just name and identify the animals; it also tells a story. There’s also some great vocabulary in here, like “fierce” and “naughty” and “perfect.” Now that Ian’s bigger, he likes to make the animal noises as well.
- Olivia. The illustrations (all black and white with pops of red) make this perfect to read with young babies who love high-contrast. This is one of the first books that I saw Ian not just look at or flip the pages, but actually respond to: “ball” was one of his first words, and he loved to point out her bright red beach ball. Olivia also gets high marks for being hilarious and entertaining for the parents (including a Jackson Pollack joke). We should get to enjoy these books too, right? (Olivia’s younger brother’s name is Ian, making it perfect for our family.)
- Goodnight Moon. When Ian was a newborn, we wanted to be super intentional about building a bedtime routine (even if he was still in the middle of crazy newborn sleep patterns). Goodnight Moon is a classic and a perfect bedtime book; it was special part of that bedtime routine. (We read this along with Really Wooly Bedtime Prayers, which is a great little book of prayers for families.)
- On the Night You Were Born. Mamas, have your box of tissues handy. Ian doesn’t love this book as much as I do, but it’s still a great bedtime story. The illustrations are detailed and collage-like with lots to look at. It’s such a unique and special look at the love parents feel for their kiddos. I can see this book weaving its way into the culture of a family: “Look, the moon stayed up until morning for you!”
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Ian’s ultimate favorite. We went with this theme for his 1st birthday party. The repetition, counting, and bright colors make this a great book for little ones. Ian loves the different page sizes and pointing to the different foods. Even when he was very little, he would smile each time we pulled this book out. I love Eric Carle, and especially this book.
Some honorable mentions:
–Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (I confess that I think this is annoying to read, but Ian likes it)
–Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You see? (A gold mine for teaching: animals, colors, sequencing, repetition, and on and on!)
–I Love You Through and Through (Super sweet. Ian loves to identify his body parts as we read it.)
Are there any great ones that I’m overlooking here? I’m always up for adding to our collection, especially with baby #2 on the way!