The 10 Best Classic Board Books Every Kid Will Love (2023)

The 10 Best Classic Board Books Every Kid Will Love (1)

Without a doubt, books are my favorite baby gift. The best Christmas gifts for babies? Also books! There's something so special and intimate about passing along a special book that you've read, in some cases a million times, to your own children as babies. The little ones can have lots of toys, lots of personalized blankets (no matter how cute they are). 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 but, in my opinion, never many good books.

The 10 best board books to start with

Choosing 10 favorite board books for this page was tough. There are so many wonderful, long-lasting crafts for babies and toddlers (lucky me!). But after a lot of fuss and worry, I've finally narrowed my list down to 10 beautiful books that need to be stuffed into diaper bags, stacked on shelves, and (let's be real) occasionally gnawed between the curious little teeth of every little boy and girl. less than 3 years

1.the hungry caterpillarby Eric Carle

I can't decide what I love most aboutthis wonderful book🇧🇷 Eric Carle's vibrant collages, with that memorable ending? The cutest counting class in the world? Just as Carle single-handedly taught generations of children years before their first science class, how do caterpillars turn into butterflies? Or do I just love the way that little creature packs food? (Can't we all relate? It's like the Thanksgiving scene! Except that humans have no excuse for the impending metamorphosis ;) ) I'm sure that even there are small children who have increased their fruit and vegetable intake becausethe hungry caterpillar🇧🇷 This book rules! There's even a waterproof version now that I wish I had at shower time. And while I generally don't like the way children's books turn into a million toys, stuffed animals, nursery decor, clothing and the like, I must admit that Eric Carle's work looks pretty cool in just about everything, so if If your child becomes hooked on this book, they will have ideas for aesthetically pleasing, book-related gifts to give for Christmas and birthdays. My Firstborn's colorful caterpillar toy gained top-tier status in Carle's second book and took root in her sweet baby heart.

The 10 Best Classic Board Books Every Kid Will Love (2)

2.big red barnpor Margaret Wise Brown

Arguably the best known ship's book of all time.good night moonby Margaret Wise Brown, who, by the way, wasa rather fascinating person- gets more endorsements than this selection. (What if hegood night moonThe book is really his thing, check out an interesting side story "everybody's a critic".on here🇧🇷 is the newGoodnight Moon Milestone Editionon-board book, with themed cards to photograph your baby as it arrives at each one).

but it's herbig red barnthis really got my kids. Smooth and rhythmic, it builds a lot of learning - animals and their sounds, colors, relative sizes and more - into a sweet slice of farm life. This was one of the first books my children began to find and "read" on their own, when they were little. I never got tired of reading either. And isn't that the mark of an amazing board book?

Note: Along with this andthe runaway rabbit(see below), there's Brown'sgood morning Good Nightboard book released in 2019. Together, this trio of books proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a master at providing high-quality reading for babies.

3.Bedtimeby Mem Fox and Jane Dyer

This may not be the best-known bedtime story, but I'm not its only fan: theDaily Telegraphnamed it one of their top 100 children's books of all time. Help a reluctant child go to bed with these cute watercolor paintings of baby animals snuggling with their parents. From sheep to snakes, the creatures are shown safe in their habitats, ready to fall asleep. The rhyme scheme by Fox, a beloved children's author from Australia, is simple and smooth, like a lullaby. Sweet Dreams! (Note: for the 3 to 5 year old set, Fox and hisBedtimeillustrator, Jane Dyer, recently reunited after 26 years to publish the wonderfulfunction fields,in dealing with the arrival of an unsolicited younger sibling. Dyer's art, centered on felted wool bears in several scenes, is a perfect fit with Fox's sensitive, charming, and downright helpful story.)

4.The Owl and the Kittenby Edward Lear and Jan Brett

At a recent dinner with close relatives, we realized that while our kids have outgrown board books (some by many years), every adult at the table could recite this quirky classic.Edward Lear poemof 1871 in full. Why? Jan Brett's charming Caribbean-style illustrations made rhymes sing for our kids and us parents when they were little. Everything that this genius child artist does is worth collecting:a luvais an icy winter classic and along with itThe hatygingerbread babyCardboard books are an ideal Christmas gift, in the form of a three-in-one jewel.Jan Brett's small library.But if you're not familiar with Jan Brett's books,The Owl and the Kittenit's a great place to start.

5.the snow daypor Ezra Jack Keats

For a child, there's nothing quite like waking up to find the world covered in silvery white snow, a feeling perfectly captured in this 1963 Caldecott winner by Ezra Jack Keats. The plot is simple and timeless: a little boy wanders through the snow, making footprints and angels, and tries to keep a piece of the experience in the form of a snow globe. All of which makes you look forward to the days before scheduled play dates and after-school activities when the kids can walk around and explore. I love Keats's stylish and fun mixed media illustrations so much that I once bought a deck of them and quickly used them for thank you teachers and congratulatory notes for new parents. The fact that this was ainnovative book in terms of racial representationit just enhances your beauty. Yes—fingers crossed—the snow daymakes your family stay with Ezra Jack Keats, see his wonderfulWhistle for Willieboard book too. And a nice hard cover,Keats Quarter: A Treasure by Ezra Jack Keats,brings together the most celebrated stories of Brooklyn natives into an inexpensive gift for young children just graduating from the board book stage.

The 10 Best Classic Board Books Every Kid Will Love (3)

6.the runaway rabbitpor Margaret Wise Brown

I don't know what psychologists thinkthis classic book: Is Margaret Wise Brown playing the apologist here for overprotective and controlling mothers? Do not. It's just an incredibly poetic description of how strong the bonds of love between parents and children are, and how "portable" they are. A rabbit teases and tests its mother with "what if" scenarios about running away. She responds with one imaginative response after another. I especially love the beautifully illustrated idea that if the bunny turns into a bird, mommy turns into a tree so he can fly home. This is one of the best baby ship books to make a little one feel safe, secure and very much loved. That earns it a high spot on the bedtime storybook list.

7.good night gorillaby Peggy Rathmann

It's time to close the zoo in this nearly wordless tale. The zookeeper closes and a mischievous young gorilla quickly steals it and uses the keys to free his animal friends one by one. Everyone silently follows the caretaker home, and in the best one-page introduction tothe critical ability to infer- an underrated early literacy item - that a 2 year old will never get, the keeper's wife discovers they have joined the couple in bed. The colorful illustrations are great and kids will love finding recurring elements in each one (the little mouse, the pink balloon). My oldest son got this as a gift from one of his aunts and it quickly became a favorite of his.

8.carrot seedpor Ruth Krauss

The colors are sober, the designs simple. What makes this book essential is its message: have faith. Keep trying. Believe in yourself. In this Ruth Krauss classic, a little boy plants a carrot seed that no one else thinks will sprout. Reading this, you'll want to punch those naysayers in the nose, but none of that matters when, in a thrilling climax for little listeners, a gigantic carrot appears to reward our hero's efforts. So there! :-) For a family with a preschooler who enjoys helping out in the garden or is inspired todevelopsSo much interest: It would make a cute gift to package this book with a pair of children's gardening gloves and a packet of carrot seeds, or any type of vegetable seed most likely to take root in your particular part of the country. Hint: Don't miss another enchanting Krauss classic,A hole is for digging, with initial designs by Maurice Sendak.

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9.Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Another masterpiece of illustration by Eric Carle (the theme from How Fun Is This?"play and learn exhibition"who travels from city to city), here is a book that has inspired thousands of preschool art projects. The colorful characters in the knitting collage take readers on a sweet, simple story that incorporates rhymes, colors, and animal identification. After a few reads, little ones will love predicting which creature will appear next. Also fun for a memory game: how many can recite in sequence, without looking? (Careful, your 2 year old will probably beat you at this game!)

I never met a child who didn't love this book or its equally amusing companion,Polar bear, polar bear, what are you listening to?(Another of my favorite Eric Carle books, and ascoffee bear, co-written with Bill Martin Jr. Live for collaboration!) If you are looking for board books in Spanish,Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see there?it is, thankfully, among the collection of classics available.

10Mr. Brown can moo! You may?by Dr. Seuss

Raising (or teaching) young children, there are days when you just want to cross the finish line and crash into bed. What happened, you ask yourself, scraping mashed peas off the wall, to that easygoing, playful dad you hoped to be? Recipe: a little nonsense without limits. And who else but Dr. Seuss to deliver it? As long as you don't feellist ratone of the bestselling children's books of all time as the authorGreen eggs with ham,The cat in the hat, youOne fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, the story of the multifaceted Mr. Brown can imitate not only a mooing cow, but also a fried egg, a squeaky shoe, a gum-chewing hippopotamus, a kissing goldfish. And so can you, as you read this splendidly silly book, referred to simply as "Brown Can Moo" by my eldest son, in shipbook age, to his children. Overacting! You will feel so much better. Gift tip:The little green box with the first glossy books, for under $10 in early 2021, is a great deal and includes mini versions ofsr Browntogether withfox in socks,There's a Wocket in my pocket!, youO ABC do Dr. Seuss.

(Note: I made this list of the best board books before the Dr. Seuss controversy that erupted in Spring 2021 - wow!on herefor information if he was resting under a rock and missed it, but I must admit he was relieved not to seesr Brownin the "do not reprint" list).

What's your favorite?

Bonus Top 10 Reasons to Read to a Baby

If reading stories to babies sometimes seems a little thankless (yes, they often want to chew on a book instead of listening), consider these benefits:

  1. Increase vocabulary. (The more stories read aloud, the more words the child will be exposed to.)
  2. Teaches about communication.
  3. Develops listening, attention and memory skills.
  4. Introduces early learning concepts (numbers, letters, colors, shapes) in a fun way.
  5. Reading stories to babies encourages later independent reading: children who are read to in the early years are more likely to read on their own, at the right time.
  6. It can calm nerves and reduce stress (both yours and your baby's).
  7. Promotes social and emotional development as baby listens to you using different emotions and expressive sounds when reading aloud.
  8. Give little ones information about the world around them, from houses like theirs to the zoo, the circus, a jungle, a farm...
  9. Awaken the taste for art, through illustrations in various supports.
  10. Best of all, it makes a connection between the books and the things your baby loves most: your voice and the feeling of being near you.

(Adapted in part from "Reading Books to Babies"

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Reading to Babies in the Womb

Whether you choose from this list of the best board books for babies or find some other reading material, some studies suggest that reading to babies in the womb, especially in the third trimester, can have benefits for both baby and mom. (I have to admit, I didn't do any of this while pregnant. But now that I've learned it, I wish I had!) Here are some great tips onhow and why to read aloud before delivery day🇧🇷 (Spoiler alert: the benefits have less to do with future IQ scores and academic performance and more to do with emotional health and bonding—in other words, the best kinds of benefits.) If baby benefits are the priority, then it may not be worth making a habit of reading aloud until the 27-29th week of pregnancy, asthat's when it ringsfrom outside the body (like a father's voice) can be heard, not just from inside the body, like a mother's heartbeat.

Board books aren't just for babies.

Think twice about putting away your family's favorite books after the kids have passed the toddler phase. They can be excellent sources ofreading for preschoolchildren who are inspired to learn to read before kindergarten (not that this is mandatory, typical, or part of any school's checklist for kindergarten readiness, but it does happen sometimes).

Sources and further reading

From the Cleveland clinic:Justification why it's never too early or too start reading to babies

From zero to three:A guide to ages and stagesto read to babies

from toamerican scientist:Specific advice on what types of storiesthey are best for reading with babies, for maximum benefit

from topsychology today: ONErecent research articleto help parents and other caregivers choose the best board books for babies, including the importance of quality of reading, not just quantity, and the age at which babies begin to hear stories

For a preschool curriculum at home in books (and other books), check out Preschool Printables fromthis homeschooling mom of 7what loveOso Pardo, Oso Pardoas much as I do :)

And if you'll allow one more Margaret Wise Brown profile and you're prepared for some possibly big surprises about this complex and visionary writer, here it is.a new pieceenjoy.

Want to catch up on the latest and greatest in children's literature for younger listeners?Opinions about Kirkusit's a great source. (Idea: As holiday gifts for preschool teachers and beyond, hand out copies of your child's favorite books. Almost every teacher wants to add to their classroom library, and this can become a tradition. family every year, with children signing up for a subscription and, as their writing skills develop, a short message for the teacher on the back cover).

I love the trend of high quality interactive books for young children andThat isNew York TimesArticleshows five good selections.

Keep curious babies safe with aDo not go upshelf likeTo bede Lakeshore Learning.

Ready to dispose of some carefully used cardboard books? Look for a non-profit organization in your area (such asBernie's Book Bankto Chicagoland orchildren's book bankin Portland) that brings children's books to underprivileged children. Don't know where to donate books?Here's an interactive map.of organizations across the country that accept them. Also reach out to preschools in your community as they may appreciate your donations, especially in areas where teachers often use their own limited funds to build a classroom library.

A book of the month club for babies and toddlers? Delicious! Bookroo has a full-book option that promises to deliver "hidden gems" every month.

Tomie DePaola created a sweet Christmas book,my first christmasit's a nice gift, just like anything fromyour fantastic Christmas catalog🇧🇷 There's something for all ages from this extremely talented author/illustrator.

Finally, create a personalized picture book for your child at stores likeTo beoTo be🇧🇷 What wonderful holiday gifts for teachers they could be too! When you visit or volunteer in the preschool classroom, for example, take a few pictures (with the teacher's permission, of course) and then make up a simple story about the daily routines. Voila, a wonderful addition to the classroom library that can help new students break into your preschool community.

The 10 Best Classic Board Books Every Kid Will Love (6)

Do you buy second hand?

Garage sale fans find the best board books! Opinions vary on how to clean them before handing them over to your child (the Clorox wipes that are considered safe for baby toys get a lot of votes), but I would prefer to clean each page with a wipe with alcohol at 70% or a paper towel with a spray-on finish with water. alcohol. It's an effective disinfectant, but it dries quickly enough that it won't damage the cover and book pages as much as, say, a bleach and water solution. Be sure to separate the pages to dry!

Have I included the most special ship books for you and your family? Or did I leave out a masterpiece?

© 2009 Maria

MeInABookon November 11, 2013:

I think another great addition to your lens would be a place where we could all vote for our favorites. It would be interesting to see which of them vie for the top 5 spots over time.

MeInABookon November 11, 2013:

The hungry caterpillar is a favorite in our house. Many excellent books here. Our children used to climb into our laps to hear a great story. I think reading to them a lot as kids really helped them develop a love of reading. One of the best programs I've seen lately is A great phonics program plus constantly reading to them really gets them hooked. Thanks for the great lens!

rooshooon November 8, 2012:

Eric Carle is great. The Hungry Caterpillar is my favorite.

anonymouson August 1, 2012:

Many good memories. Thanks for sharing.

intermarcason July 30, 2012:

I bought the book Mr Brown Can moo for my son and he really liked it.

antonioon June 19, 2012:

Very good lens, well done! like a squid

alex89on April 2, 2012:

The owl and the kitten have always been my favorites. Thank you, this is fantastic!

blacksmithson December 15, 2011:

I think Sandra Boynton writes my favorite board books. But her list is also great. Thanks!

nixx99on November 30, 2011:

Brown Bear Brown Bear is an absolute favorite in our house. I love board books because my son is very fussy about everything, thanks for the list.

Mary (author)from the Chicago area on November 30, 2011:

@victoriuh - not quite done yet, but you might need to delve deeper into topics... for example, try creating a list of top 5 books about farms, cars, or ballerinas... the idea : ) welcome to Squidoo -- it is very fun!

victoryon November 29, 2011:

Lol, I just made a top 5 maple book lens. I'm new here and I'm starting to realize that almost everything has already been done. You also have three of my family's favorites on your list. I agree that books are the best gifts!

Mary (author)from the Chicago area on November 12, 2011:

@anonymous: Thanks for the heads up! it confused me. but then I noticed that Amazon now automatically lists (on pages like this one) the lowest price available through its sellers for a fresh copy of each item. that would be fine except sellers charge 3.99 shipping so really if you are asking $25 or more total in merchandise. and qualify for free shipping, Amazon's "highest" price is usually your best bet. for my book purchases, I always do the math. takes a minute but saves $ over time through these calculations.

some of the more popular board books (eg Big Red Barn) may be cheaper at Walmart. otherwise, I find Amazon's prices competitive, whether through their sellers or regular pricing. unfortunately, it's hard to find the best board books for less than $6 - $7.

anonymouson November 12, 2011:

None of these books had the price listed. Each costs several dollars more per book than what lists as an Amazon price. Quite disappointing....

pats21wju1on August 30, 2011:

Great lens! I really enjoyed the list of the best board books!

pietyon July 12, 2011:

Agree, books are the best gift for the little ones. I also like giving puzzles.

anonymouson June 20, 2011:

Nice lens. Undoubtedly, books are babies' favorite gift. Thanks for sharing. strategic planning program

Shelly's SellersUS Midwest on May 9, 2011:

Oh I must say Eric Carle's books are some of the best! Great page and some of the books are new to me.

nany palaceon May 5, 2011:

Great squidoo lens! Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

anonymouson April 2, 2011:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA++++++++++++++++. Bonita lente de calamar. criss

Pacrapama movieon March 15, 2011:

You included great books! I am adding a link to this lens in my recent LOTD Reading Starts at Home lens in a Good Books for Children plexus of other lens teachers. If you don't see it right away, check back. He may still be working on the plexus.

Pacrapama movieon March 15, 2011:

@anonymous: If the person only searches for books with supersave shipping, they will not have shipping costs. Linking to Amazon also provides a great way to view book reviews. Buying through Amazon is just one option. Personally, I LOVE the additional information that Amazon provides to the buyer.

Mary (author)from the Chicago area on February 23, 2011:

@anonymous: We are lucky to have a local independent bookstore in our small town; many don't, and the closest thing they have is a big chain like Barnes & Noble. I'm not sure I see a difference between these chains and Amazon. Our local shop, while charming, also has a rather limited selection of cardboard books; probably less than half of my top 10 list is represented there. Personally, I love Amazon and enjoy free shipping over $25 when combining items in one order. But for just one book, you're right: shipping is probably not worth it.

Thanks for the visit!

anonymouson February 23, 2011:

Great list of books. I'm disappointed you let this site act as a stepping stone to Amazon. The indicated prices are misleading because they do not include shipping. Children's books are cheap – go to your local independent bookstore to buy books and teach your children the value of supporting a business that supports the community they live in.

lemon squeezed lmon February 11, 2011:

You have selected 10 very good books. "The Carrot Seed" is an old but good one that I still need for our home collection. *blessed*

anonymouson November 25, 2010:

great lens I love the illustration at the top of the page of the Owl and the Cat.

poutineon October 1, 2010:

Excellent option. It's not easy to keep it at 10.

poutineon October 1, 2010:

Excellent option. It's not easy to keep it at 10.

eridquaon September 10, 2010:

Certainly difficult to narrow it down to a top ten! Sandra Boynton's books are some of our family favorites.

Linda Hoxiefrom Idaho on April 27, 2010:

These look like a great selection of children's books - well chosen! 🇧🇷


Deliaon February 13, 2010:

really cool lens...5*...i always "make" a book and illustrate and write with the baby being the subject, do a pop up flower with the babies picture in it...they are a big hit.

Lorelei Cohenfrom Canada on December 7, 2009:

I just dropped by to wish you and those around you a merry Christmas with love. Many blessings in the New Year.


Cynthia SylvestermouseUnited States on November 28, 2009:

All of this is wonderful!!! My son still has his copy of The Runaway Bunny, Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My daughter loved Goodnight Moon. He still quotes from that book! Great lens, wonderful books!

Anahída LMon November 27, 2009:

Hi, I read your inflight book summaries, I want to buy something for my granddaughters, I gave them 5 stars and I'm going to give them a roll of cups, great job. thank you, Ana

writer2911on October 24, 2009:

I enjoyed seeing the books you included in your list. Agree, it is difficult to narrow it down. I've added your lens to mine - it's a first and it's a list of 11 children's books my little girl has chosen as favorites (at least right now) :) Feel free to drop by and let me know what you think if you have a moment:

anonymouson October 20, 2009:

Hi! Good to find other books for baby glasses! Hope you can visit my lens: Baby Books!

oz too lmon October 7, 2009:

What a great collection! I can see why it was so hard to pick a top 10 pick. 5*****

fat tonesfrom Naperville, IL on October 6, 2009:

Large selection of books. Lensrolling for my Eric Carle lens.

shell2on October 6, 2009:

Impressive selection you have chosen here! I love Owl and Kitten! Fun books!

lindabee lmon October 6, 2009:

A large selection of books. I will read many of them to my granddaughter.

Web Holleyon October 5, 2009:

In fact, I still have a brown bear, a brown bear, what do you see? since childhood! It was one of my favorites and I'm dying to see it here! This is wonderful! What a beautiful collection of children's books. Glad I stopped :)

Bárbara Radisavljevicfrom Paso Robles, CA on October 5, 2009:

Good job! You used one of my ideas on your voucher, but I had already decided to do something else. Some of my favorite board books were on her list. I think carrot seed is my favorite.

arena mertensfrom Frozen Tundra on October 5, 2009:

I'm lovin 'it!

Diana Loomoson October 5, 2009:

You've picked some really great books here. Bring back many memories!

WindyWintersHubsfrom Vancouver Island, BC on October 5, 2009:

Wonderful! Great gift ideas and everyday! 🇧🇷

irregular edgeon October 5, 2009:

Ah... they are beautiful. There is something special about board books. I can even remember mine from forty... er... so many years ago!

burning heatherfrom Wexford, Ireland on October 5, 2009:

My God, what a treat! Several of these are my favorites as well. I'll send some to Lily. Thank you so much for twisting my lenses on her too! Beautiful lens!

brenda's treasuresfrom Canada on October 5, 2009:

Wow, you managed to include so many of our favorite books on your list...the difference is they weren't available as board books when my kids were little! Blessed.


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