Reading board books is one of my favorite things to do with my children. My 2 year old and I both think it’s fun; reading is great for her language development; and books can help her learn more about the world around her. Now that we have a new baby in the house, books for our littlest family member have been on my mind. Granted, many of these are still adored by our toddler.
If you’re expecting your own little one and are wondering what books to add to your registry, look no further! Below are seven categories (plus a bonus one) and 21 specific recommendations. I suggest asking for books in lieu of cards at your baby shower. It’s a great way to start your board book collection, and you may discover many more unexpected favorites. Plus, you’ll have a sweet note on the inside of the cover every time you read your gifted book.
#1 A Black and White Book
A high-contrast board book is perfect for your baby’s first book. Newborns can only see up to 12 inches away (about the distance of a mother’s face while nursing), and they can only focus on high-contrast images, such as black and white designs. Two that we own and love are Look, Look! by Peter Linenthal and Black & White by Tana Hoban. The latter folds out like an accordion and can stand up for your baby to look at during tummy time.
#2 A Book with Baby Faces
Babies love to look at other babies, so a board book with photos of baby faces would be a great addition to your kiddo’s book collection. Some of our family’s favorites include Making Faces by Abrams Appleseed, Baby Faces by DK, Global Babies by The Global Children’s Fund, and The Babies and Doggies Book by John Schindel and Molly Woodward. The first two are also about emotions, which is a great way to name various feelings your baby experiences. And if you’re more of a cat person, John and Molly also wrote a book entitled The Babies and Kitties Book.
#3 A Touch and Feel Book
Babies and young toddlers love touch-and-feel books. Our family really likes the ones from DK Baby Touch and Feel as well as Scholastic First Steps Touch and Feel. They all typically have a real photo on each page with a touch-and-feel component. Some of the pages have more obvious touch-and-feel elements than others, but we still enjoy them. We personally own and love Animals, Baby Animals and Trucks by DK Baby Touch and Feel and Fall by Scholastic First Steps Touch and Feel.
#4 A Book With a Strong Rhyming Pattern
Singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes, and reading books with a strong rhyming pattern are all great ways to increase your baby or young toddler’s literacy. Babies love them, and I personally think they’re more fun to read aloud! For these reasons, many board books rhyme, and they’re easy to find. My little one loves the silly rhymes found in the “Never Touch a…” series by Rosie Greening. We have Never Touch a Spider, Never Touch a Panda, and Never Touch a Dinosaur. These books also have fun silicone touch-and-feel features. For more silly rhymes, check out author Sandra Boynton.
#5 A Roger Priddy Book
There are so many board book authors and illustrators who are favorites in our home, but if I could only recommend one for babies, it would be Roger Priddy. Why? He uses real photographs, which are more engaging for babies and young children. Many of them are also “first words” books. We have this set, and each book contains several photos and words that fall under various categories. They were by far my daughter’s favorite go-to books when she was a year old. They even kept her entertained on longer car rides, so that’s another win. She also loved this Priddy See Touch Feel book.
#6 A Lift the Flap Book
I was hesitant to include this category because my toddler was very rough with flaps for the longest time and most of our lift-the-flap books have at least one missing or damaged flap. However, I’m including it because she absolutely loves them! Her favorite is Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz.
#7 A Goodnight Board Book
There’s nothing sweeter than rocking your baby while reading a goodnight book that you love. No wonder it’s one of the most common themes for board books! We definitely have our favorites to end the day with. They include The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christlowe, and Goodnight Zoe from our Lovevery play kit.
#8 BONUS: A Cloth Book…sorry, this isn’t a board book!
I’m a big proponent of leaving books within your child’s reach at all times. This helps increase their love for books as well as their independence. However, at a certain point, some babies or young toddlers may prefer chewing their books rather than reading them. My baby was one of them. Even sturdy board books don’t stand a chance at a quick teething session! During this phase, I kept out a handmade cloth book and a crinkle book that she had access to. In fact, my daughter’s crinkle book was her favorite “toy” for a long time. I also discovered Indestructible books, which are exactly what they sound like. Try to rip them, and you can’t. You can even run them through the wash, and they’ll stand up to it. They’re not the best quality in terms of words and illustrations, but they do the job during this phase.
Hopefully you were able to find at least one board book to add to your list! Whether you’re giving or receiving, books make the best gifts, don’t you think?