our 10 favorite board books


In a world of smart phones and flat screens, it often seems impossible that a child will really learn to love books more than the latest Apple product.  As frequent users of screens ourselves (and with two blogs to maintain between us), Elliott and I feel the pull between paper and iPad very keenly.

Here at home we combat it by reading books to Lena and reading our own books in front of her, and then when she is awake our phones are generally out of sight and our laptops are closed.  Therefore, in Lena’s almost-two years of life, we have read a lot of books to her.  We read several stories to her before both her naps and another several stories before bedtime; we keep books mixed in with all her toys; her great-grandmother gave her some bath books; and we keep books in our bag for her to read on the go (car seat, stroller, during church, etc.).  Books books books… !

Today I polled Elliott and we came up with a list of our 10 favorite board books.  These are the ones that Lena asked for over and over again, and these are also the books that we didn’t mind reading over and over ourselves.  There are a few classics and a few obscure ones.  Here’s our list:

Peek-A Who?— A gift from my friend Heather, this is a great first book for a baby.  It’s small enough for little hands and only has about 10 pages.  There’s a cute, rhyming story and lots of bright colors and animals.  See Lena enjoying it at the end of this post.

Where’s Spot?— Lena has loved any lift-the-flap book since she was about 12 months old and could manipulate the flaps with her little fingers.  Spot is a special favorite, but I also recommend Karen Katz’s booksand Dear Zoo.

Goodnight Moon— The lulling rhythm of this children’s classic puts Lena and her parents to sleep!

Rocky Mountain Babies!— Lena’s Aunt Eden bought this for her in Rocky Mountain National Park when we were vacationing there with Elliott’s family in July 2011 (right before I started this blog!).  We’ve read this book to her hundreds of times by now and love the photos of baby animals from the American West.

The Big Red Barn— An unlikely classic, I thought, when I first read the book and looked at the pictures.  It isn’t as instantly aesthetically appealing as many children’s books.  Yet over time this book has become our family’s very favorite.  Perhaps it’s because there is so much to see and discuss on each page.  Perhaps it’s because of all the animal sounds we can make together.  Perhaps it’s because the musical rhythm helps us all nod off by the end of the book.  We love it.

Note: We received it as a boxed setwith Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, and I highly recommend this set as a gift.

Freight Train— Lena got this Caldecott Medal-winning board book as a party favor because the hostess knew we didn’t want Lena to have candy.  Umm… best party favor ever, I think?!  This conceptual classic, with its bright colors and simple story, quickly became Lena’s new favorite book.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?— We love anything by Eric Carlein this house, but Lena seems to prefer this one most of all.  We love roaring like a lion and yelping like a peacock as we read the rollicking story aloud.

Hop on Pop— I find myself quoting this silly book all the time and somehow never tire of reading it.  “Three fish in a tree?  How can that be?”  I also recommend another short board book by Dr. Seuss called Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, and in fact Lena has loved any book we own in the Bright and Early Board Books series.

A Swim Through the Sea— This beautiful book was given to us by our friends in California, who first fell in love with it when they discovered it at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Written and gorgeously illustrated by a 16-year-old, it’s a little-known classic and an unusually beautiful ABC book.

Blue Hat, Green Hat — Lena literally laughs out loud when we read this book to her.  Somehow Sandra Boynton nabs toddler humor with her upbeat rhymes and hilarious animal illustrations.  You can’t go wrong with anything by Boynton, but this one is by far our favorite.

And now it’s your turn!  Did you see any of your favorites on this list?  And which books do remember most fondly from your childhood?  We’re always looking for good suggestions for our home library!

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9 Responses to our 10 favorite board books

  1. Heather February 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Yay! I’m so glad Lena likes Peek a Who :) I love all the ways you are helping Lena to connect with and love books. The characters become like friends to kids. Have you discovered Leo Lionni yet? His books are wonderful and many of them have great vocabulary and meaningful messages woven into them :)

  2. Shannon February 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Definitely Good Night Moon. We moved mostly to paper books, but Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Curious George and the Rocket, Funny Face and A Magical Day with Monet were our favorite board books.

  3. Alica February 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Book, books and more books. Good for you! In my opinion, there’s nothing better than to curl up with a good book to relax! Goodnight Moon was one of our favorite board books, and another one was Guess How Much I Love You!

  4. Tiffany February 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Love this–we’re always on the lookout for good books, too! We read (mostly say) Goodnight Moon every night, and and I adore The Big Red Barn, too. Catherine loves Where’s Spot as well as every Priddy Book we’ve ever gotten (colors, animals, seasons, Z is for Zoo). What fun!

  5. Kim February 19, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    The Big Red Barn for sure! Jamberry was a much read favorite with a wonderful sing song cadence, Jesse Bear What Will You Wear, Goodnight Gorilla, The Gruffalo, Madeline….sometimes my youngest (13!) who reads ALL THE TIME will pull out old children’s books and ask me to read them to them. Hannah’s favorite that she had memorized by age 3 was called A Pinky is a Baby Mouse-this would be one that Elliott would love. Very nice rhyming cadence and it tells what the names of baby animals are. She wore that book out!

  6. Maggy February 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    This is great! Kurt hates reading and loves all things techy…so I’m a little nervous for his stage for us…but thankfully we have time for that to figure it out.

    Favorite books? Goodness. Definitely Eric Carle. Not only as a writer, but as an artist I appreciate him a lot.

    One (of many) that comes to mind is a book called Oh Were They Every Happy. It’s a book about kids who decide to help their parents by painting their house with all the leftover paint in the garage.

    Also, Barbara Cooney books (a little old for Lena now, but ohhhh oh so good). I used ot read them with my Mom over and over. Her illustrations are wonderful.

  7. Erin February 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Alex loves Blue Hat Green Hat and Freight Train too! He also loves Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, I Want My Hat Back, and Hug. He thinks the Pigeon freaking out is the funniest thing. He also has this big animal book called Moo that has touch and feel animals with fur and some moving parts and lift flaps, and that has been a huge hit. Bottom line, you can never have too many books to love!

  8. Jessica Ann February 20, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    As the auntie of 9 (and counting) nieces and nephews, I love buying books as gifts because I want to instill that love of reading in them, and I know the parents definitely prefer books over noisy, soon to be outgrown or break toys. One of my favorite series to buy my nieces is the Babylit Board Books. They just came out a few years ago, but they are a must! The author and illustrator take classic literature and turn the story into a learning primer. For example, the first book is Pride and Prejudice, and they turned it into a counting primer. I think they are a great way to give my nieces early exposure to some of my favorite books. And truthfully, they aren’t all girly. Dracula came out at Halloween, A Christmas Carol was released just before Christmas, and Moby Dick is due out any day.

  9. Lauren Ashley February 20, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Good Night Moon – that book brings back some memories. :-)

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