Thursday, February 21, 2008

10 Board Books for Building the Well-Read Child’s Library

I’m happy to be presenting the first installment in my new weekly feature, “Building the Well-Read Child’s Library,” where I’ll give you 10 recommendations for books that will help you build the foundation of your child’s library. Read more here.

Today, I’m recommending 10 board books for your baby’s library. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love board books. Those of you with infants and toddlers know that “gentle,” is not in their vocabulary…just ask my poor dog who kindly puts up with my daughter’s ear pulling and pouncing. Books are no exception—give babies a book or magazine, and it will be covered in drool and be missing pages in mere seconds.

Thankfully, someone out there came up with an idea to bind books on sturdy cardboard that could withstand the abuse of not-so-gentle children—pure genius I say. The best part is that many childhood classics are available in board book format to make these stories more accessible to younger children, and many bookstores have their own sections just for board books.

Here are 10 board books that we love in our house and that I think would give you an excellent start to building your child’s library.

On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier
This is the book that inspired me to start The Well-Read Child and the first book I wrote about. Read my story here. The book describes how the sun, moon, animals, and spirits of the earth prepared themselves for the birth of the baby in the book and welcomed her/him into the world. It would make a wonderful gift for expectant parents, and kids will love to hear about the day they were born.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Eric Carle’s classic story of a caterpillar who eats a number of foods, builds a cocoon, and emerges as a butterfly, is available in board book format. This is a favorite in our house, and since my daughter was a tiny little thing, she’s been fascinated with the big yellow sun near the beginning of the book. Now, she enjoys poking her fingers through the holes the caterpillar makes in all of the food items.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

This book never fails to give me the warm fuzzies as a father and son pair of rabbits proclaim their love for each other. My favorite line comes at the end when the little rabbit says to his father, "I love you right up to the MOON.” This is a great book for a father to read to his child.

Where Is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz

I’m a big fan of Karen Katz’s vibrant illustrations and cherub-faced characters, and this interactive book is no exception. A peek-a-boo book of sorts, it encourages children to lift flaps and find the baby’s body parts (hands, toes, belly button). This is a fun way to introduce body parts.

Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton

I love Sandra Boynton’s whimsical illustrations, and this very entertaining board book features animals and the noises they make, but which animals say, “La la la?” You and your child will have so much fun making the different animal noises, and it’s a great way to teach your child about different types of animals.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

This book is just way too cute, and your child will get a kick out of it. A watchman at a zoo bids goodnight to a gorilla who pickpockets his keys, unlocks his cage, and follows the watchman through the zoo. As the watchman bids goodnight to all of the animals, the gorilla lets them out of their cages, and they all follow him home.

Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

I apparently have a weakness for daddy and baby affection, and I love this adorable book that features a number of father animals kissing their babies. With lots of opportunities for kisses, you and your child will have a lot of fun with this book.

Mommy Hugs by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben

I can't leave mommies out! A perfect companion book to Daddy Kisses, Mommy Hugs explains how a variety of mommy animals hug their babies. For example, “mommy cat hugs her kitten with a nuzzle.”

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

A classic book about a little bunny rabbit who is getting ready for bed and says goodnight to everything around him. Parents who have trouble getting their little ones go to bed swear by this book. One mom I know reads the book to her son and then walks around his own room saying goodnight to everything in the room.

Baby Cakes by Karma Wilson

This book is very cute and gives lots and lots of opportunities for you to interact with your baby, from kissing him/her on the nose to a smooch on the toes. This is a great book for quality bonding time, and a perfect way to send your little one off to sleep.

Board books are a wonderful way to help you instill the joy of reading in your child from a very early age. They give babies and toddlers the opportunity to explore books without the risk of ruining them.

At 11 months old, my daughter LOVES her board books. Just last night, she sat down in the floor for 30 minutes and was flipping through them, biting them, and “talking” to the pages.

There are so many more wonderful board books out there, and it was difficult to choose just ten. I'd love to hear your recommendations!

Copyright 2008
Jill Tullo, The Well-Read Child


  1. Eric Carle is definitely one I would second for any library. My kids love his artwork and books.

  2. We loved Baby Beluga, by Raffi. Although now they deny ever liking to hear me sing.

    Speaking of singing, Moo Baa La La La can mostly be read to that song from Carmen -- ta da da da, ta da da daa.

  3. Breeni,
    I love Eric Carle's work, and I was amazed when I found out that his illustrations are collages of tissue paper.

    I'll definitely have to check out Baby Beluga, and I'm going to totally try reading Moo Baa La La La to the tune of Carmen!

  4. Very nice addition to an already great blog! I like this. And might I say, Goodnight Gorilla is my favorite and my son's too. But I have probably mentioned that in half a dozen comments here, or at least I meant to. I see some good ones on here I'd better get. We have about 50 pounds of board books already, but there's always room for more!

  5. Thanks so much Diane! I hope you and other readers continue to enjoy this feature. And you really can't have too many board books in my opinion!

  6. Thank you so much - Such a great blog full of great stuff.
    I wanted to mention a good children's book my son adores that he just got for his birthday. It's called Archy the flying Dolphin He loves this book so much. He brought it to school the other day for show and tell. The teacher read it aloud and all the kids were so into the book. She actually pulled me aside when I came to get him and told me this, and said he was really excited to share it.
    Hope you get a chance to check this book out.. I give it 2 thumbs up!!

  7. Thanks for visiting Chrissy, and thanks for the excellent recommendation. I will absolutely check out Archy the Flying Dolphin. It's so wonderful that your son enjoys reading and was excited to share the book with his class!

  8. A great series! I'll look forward to this one! My boys love the Priddy series. I think they like the big, bold photos of everyday objects around them.