We all know how important reading is for our little ones’ language development and cognitive skills. But there are so many board books out there… How to choose?
In the past 13 months, I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of baby board books–not surprising, considering how much Xaviana and I both love to read! I’ve noticed that her favorites contain several common key elements, which are educational as well as fun:
- Animal sounds (either written into the book or added by me)
- Pleasant rhymes
- Pop-ups and opening flaps
- Bright colors
Here are our favorites:
- The Can You Say it Too? books by Sebastien Braun – Babies love flipping open the flaps to reveal various animals and their sounds–perfect for expanding little ones’ animal sound repertoire. We have Moo, Moo, which is all about barnyard animals, Growl, Growl, which introduces babies to bears and other wild beasts, and Woof, Woof, which features common everyday pets.
- Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jane Church – Although we love all of Church’s books, what sets this one apart is the creative and interactive way that it teaches children about various parts of the body and what each one does.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – This classic introduces children to counting, days of the week, foods, and the basic life cycle of a caterpillar. It also includes the onomatopoeia “pop,” which makes my little one giggle every time. She’s even started to say it. I make the story come to life with Xaviana’s Very Hungry Caterpillar teething rattle.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle – Another fabulous contribution from Carle, this book is a great way to teach kids about animals and colors, and the catchy, rhyming text rolls off the tongue. I add animal sounds to make the book even more educational.
- I Can Dance by Betsy Snyder – The finger cutouts make this book such a treat; parents stick their fingers through the characters’ little leg holes to make them dance everything from ballet to disco.
- Little Fish finger puppet book – Its tiny size makes it ideal for trips, and the happy fish finger puppet, colorful pictures, and rhyming text keep kids enthralled time after time. There’s a whole series of these books, including Little Shark and Little Penguin.
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – This book has been delighting children for generations, and I can see why; the illustrations are jam-packed with interesting, old-fashioned objects and the gentle, rhyming text keeps babies absorbed–and mellow before bed. 🙂
- If Animals Kissed Good Night by Ann Whitford Paul – Another bedtime fave, this rhyming book is so much fun to read because of the creative ways in which the exotic animals kiss their young.
- Time for Bed by Mem Fox – This bedtime must-have features gorgeous illustrations of baby animals as they get ready for bed with their parents. I enhance the cute, rhyming text by adding animal sounds for each critter.
- Sniff by Matthew van Vleet – Pull out the side tabs to make the elephant’s nose smell flowers, the mouse’s nose twitch, and the papa bear’s nose snore! Babies love touching the textured illustrations of various animal noses.
- The Where is Baby’s… series by Karen Katz – We have Where is Baby’s Birthday Cake, Where is Baby’s Christmas Present, and Where is Baby’s Pumpkin, and my little pumpkin loves them all. Lift up the flaps as Baby searches for seasonal items…and always finds them just in time to celebrate!
- Good Morning, Good Night Illustrated by Melanie Mitchell – Watch various animals during their active, fun-filled days, and then unfold the pages to pet their textured fur at nighttime. There’s even a little girl to tuck in under a fleecy blanket! I usually read this book to Xaviana in the morning and at bedtime; it’s the only book I know that gears kids up for their day and then relaxes them for bed.
- Bright Baby Colors, Numbers, ABCs – This huge board book has colorful illustrations of baby’s first words, the alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, opposites, times of the day, and various places. It’s an awesome vocabulary-builder!
- Sophie’s Pop-up Peekaboo – Sophie the Giraffe is hiding from her feline friend Lazare, and he looks all over the house to find her. The pop-ups delight little ones, and it’s a great way to teach kids to identify animals (Sophie’s friends) and rooms in the house.
- Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae – Gerald the Giraffe has no hope of entertaining the other animals at the jungle dance…until a cricket teaches him a confidence-building lesson. This book has the “heaviest” plot of any of Xaviana’s books, so it will grow with her. The illustrations and rhyming text keep her interested, and it probably doesn’t hurt that I act out the page where Gerald swings his legs everywhere, and then does a backward somersault and leaps up in the air. A great book to read when we both need to energize a bit. 😉
So there you have it… 15 fun and educational board books. What are your kids’ favorites? I’d love to hear your thoughts!