Not all board books are created equal! Here are our favorite board books for toddlers with tips for choosing ones that will stand the test of time.
Before having kids, I never realized how early they take a liking to books. It’s crazy isn’t it? Some fall in love with them before their first birthday and many of them are hooked for good during the toddler years. I know most mornings I find Kaitlyn (20 months) like this:
I don’t know how she finds room to sleep, but goodness knows I better not try and remove even one of those books.
I reckon before kids I didn’t give much thought to which books are better either. Books and books, right? WRONG.
We have accumulated a lot of children’s books, which I am so grateful for. We also borrow regularly from the library and are sure to check out friends’ bookshelves when we visit, too. Through this very official research, I’ve learned that not all kid books are created equal. Here are some keys I’ve found are crucial for a great toddler book:
- Make sure it’s a board book. There is a reason they make these. Paper pages are easily ripped to shreds by an enthusiastic toddler swatting at the pages, so it’s best to hedge your bets and stick with the board books.
- Limit text on the page. Most toddlers aren’t really into elaborate stories. A couple sentences gives them plenty of time to look at the pictures before the insist of turning to the next page.
- You can’t go wrong with animals. We can’t get through a book with animals without making the sounds and watching Kaitlyn light up with joy as she hoots like an owl might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
- Remember that the parents are going to be reading this book approximately 4,968,422 times themselves, so pick one that’s at least semi-entertaining.
Now that I’ve had two kids through the toddler stage, I’ve accumulated a few books that have withstood the test of time and still maintained interest from the girls. So if you have a baby on the way, have a friend that is expecting or are just into cute and colorful easy-reads yourself, here are our favorite toddler board books!
Baby Bear Baby Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle
Why: A unique selection of animals (my girls know what a blue heron is now- ha!) plus repetition of phrases so toddlers can practice saying it along with you makes it a fun read. Currently this is Kaitlyn’s favorite.Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
Why: We can start with the fact that it is only $3, but I love that is helping Kaitlyn recognize colors and she gets really excited to join in with the ‘oops!’ on each page. Also since the words are simply describing each picture, Hailey (4 years old) can “read” this this book to her sister. Click Clack 123 by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Why: This is one of my favorites. It has numbers and animals (moooooooo) incorporated into a simple, silly little story. I won’t give away the ending (haha), but this one has been a favorite of both girls!Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Why: Honestly, I didn’t want to include this one. You know the song, so you know the story and man is it repetitive. But Kaitlyn LOVES it. Each time a monkey bumps his head she smacks her own forehead and yells OWWwww then bursts into giggles. Duck & Goose: Goose Needs a Hug by Tad Hills
Why: Hands down my favorite book and I’m actually going through and looking at other Duck & Goose books because I like this one so much. It has about two sentences per page which is perfect, but manages to get a story across. It also has a lot of action words and Kaitlyn plays along with ‘splashing in puddles’ and playing ‘hide and seek.’ This is also where I came up with calling her Goose as a nickname. Love it.First 100 Words Bright Baby by Roger Priddy
Why: It illustrates a lot of basic objects that are easily recognizable and helps little ones learn to identify them. Kaitlyn likes playing the ‘can you find the flower’ game. She is actually at the point now where she will point to the wrong one, grin at me, then slyly say noooooo, before she points to the right picture. Needless to say this one takes about 30 minutes to get through.Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Why: It’s a classic for a reason. The sleepy rhythm of the pages really makes for a perfect before bed book.My First ABC Book by DK Publishing
Why: It’s never to early to start talking ABCs right? Plus I love that it has pictures with each letter to help identify the sound of each letterThe Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Why: Cute and quirky, plus it rhymes. It’s also a great one before bed (thus the title) because it slows down and ends the story with a gentle rock and rock and rock to sleep that almost does the trick for me every time (zzzz…).Last one!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Finger Puppet Book by Eric Carle
Why: You know the story, but this version has the finger puppet that makes Kaitlyn squeal with delight. It keeps her interested in the story the whole time and she only nearly ripped my finger off once.Out of of over-flowing book shelves, these are hands down our favorites that stay on regular rotation. Since most of them are under $5, the same price as a greeting card, I love baby showers or parties that suggest bringing a book instead of a card to help build the baby’s collection. It’s so nice to have a few to choose from when the repetitiveness kicks in… which it certainly will.
Do your kids have a go-to favorite book?
Which books did you love when you were growing up?
My 2yo son has most of these books but a couple of the one’s he doesn’t have is the abc, 123, color books which I been looking for those types and totally going to buy those! I hope your Amazon links give u something bc I will order thru those links 🙂 I love your toddler posts!
Katie mac says
Great selection! We also love (but I have two boys and a girl) little blue truck, little blue truck Christmas, and little blue truck in the city. I think girls would like them too, besides the truck, the rest is animals. Repetitive pages, animal noises, rhyming, awesome illustration. And bonus! The Christmas one has twinkling lights on the last page.
Lots of good ones in there. You are missing two good ones. Snuggle Puppy and 5 Stinky Socks. You won’t be disappointed.
Brittany Dixon says
Oh great I will check those out- thanks!
I second Little Blue Truck. My 14 month old little girl loves it. We also like The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.
Brittany Dixon says
I am looking up Little Blue Truck right now- it seems that so many people like that one!
I love this! My son had a phase starting at about 10 months when was really into books. For the last month or so, he wasn’t interested because he learned to walk. But now, at 13 months, he’s super into books again.
I’ll spare you my German book recommendations, but one book that he adores – and that is in English is Goodnight Gorilla.
I love this list! Some of them I have seen and thought might be too young for E, but I think they will be just right. They will be good for Will too since they seem to be gender neutral (E got a lot of princess and ballerina books). We love books that make noises. Currently the book about trucks is on our favorite list. E also loves her Mickey Mouse clubhouse book that allows her to look for different objects on each page. It is amazing how much they know at this age and can pick up on!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh I’ll bet H would love a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse book- it sounds awesome. I’ll have to look for that one! Thanks for the suggestions 🙂 I’m surprised we don’t have more girly books since H loves princesses so much, but most of ours are gender neutral now that I think about it. We also have all my old Bernstein Bear books and H loves those!
This is a great list. My 16 month old loves books and makes us read at least 3 each night. She also likes the “that’s not my…” books. Current favorite is That’s Not My Elephant!
Great list – I am going to have to check out Duck & Goose – I haven’t heard of that series.
My LO is 16 months and also loves the Little Blue Truck series.
Brittany Dixon says
I must find the Little Blue Truck Series! From the comments it seems like it has a lot of fans!
Harvey loves Little Blue Truck, all the Babylit board books, I Am A Bunny, Charley Harper board books, and Owl Babies.
Our kids have been big Sandra Boynton fans as well. They’re also big fans of the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books. It’s funny because when my son was younger we had to stick with really short books and for a while when he was a toddler he didn’t want to sit still to read at all, but my daughter has always been a bookworm. Even at 2 she’ll sit through the longer stories with her older brother and is usually always seen with a book in hand. They’re also big “Inside Out” fans, so we have several of those books about emotions that they LOVE.
Brittany Dixon says
Isn’t it funny how different kids can be?! And yes, I really like Sandra Boynton overall too! Hailey loves the if you give a mouse a cookie books (dog a donut, etc), but K still gets a little ancy about turning the pages 😉
I am a nanny for a family with a 3 year old girl and 19 month old boy. They happen to have many of the same toddler books as you, but I can’t help but mention a favourite of ours. The series is called “Pete the Cat”.. We like “My Four Groovy Buttons” and “I love my white shoes”. The books have a repetitive chorus you sing to the kids, and they really seem to enjoy singing it all day long! I will definitely be gifting a book out of this series to any friends with toddlers in years to come. Thanks for all your recommendations!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh yes we’ve read some Pete the Cat at the library- great books! I’l have to check out the others you suggested too. Thanks for the recs! 🙂
Brittany Dixon says
Yes to Sandra Boynton! They all seem to be pretty great! And yay for animal noises; they never fail to make me giggle when the kids imitate them 🙂
Lauren @ Oh Hey! I Like That! says
Eric Carle books are the BEST! And Goodnight Moon is such a classic 🙂
My little guy is obsessed with books. It’s so much fun, and you’re right, i was so surprised! His favorites are: Brown Bear, Little blue Truck, Red Truck, Goodnight farm, and books with flaps and farm animals. He is obsessed with wheels. If the book doesn’t have animals or wheels, he’ll toss it aside. It’s so fun to see his likes and dislikes developing.
Goodnight Moon was one of our faves. My daughter could find the mouse on each page when she was teeny tiny (8 mos???).
Also, you should try to find poem collections by Jack Prelutsky. SOOO silly!
I love your suggestions and those in the comments from others!
The teacher in me has so many to list but I’ll try and contain myself:
Each Peach Pear Plum
Shake a Leg
Won’t you be my Kissaroo & Won’t you be my Hugaroo?
Time for Bed **my favorite for bedtime
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Pretty wordy but great for sounds)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
I am saving this and adding all of these to a running Amazon wish list I have. My 15 month old son LOVES books. Just like Kaitlin he reads in his crib every morning. We surprisingly only have a couple of these you suggest. I am always looking for new suggestions/gift ideas. He is becoming a big brother in 3 months, so I have been wanting to let people know of small gifts they can give him to celebrate his new role. Can’t wait for my boys to read together 🙂 I got all tingly in my eyes typing that. Darn pregnancy hormones! Anyway…thanks!
My two (19 months and a little over 3) love all the Sandra Boynton Books, the Little Blue Truck books, and Karen Katz lift the flap books. We also have a few Don and Audrey Wood books on repeat – The Napping House, Full Moon at the Napping House, and Piggies! And my 3yo loves any book about trucks. A fun series are the Kate and Jim McMullan books – I Stink, I’m Dirty, I’m Brave, etc., but they are longer picture books, so better for older kids. Hailey might enjoy them!
Great list, we love monkeys and good night moon too. My little boy also loves “I love you through and through.” A little silly and he can point out eyes, ears etc. I like “stinky face” but he’d rather flip through it quickly. And we have to even make sure the board books don’t have any pull outs or flaps–the sesame street characters in his peek-a-boo book have no hands!
I love Duck and Goose and Goodnight Moon as well. Mitch loves to read, so I try and change up our nightly selection. Thanks for the list, you had two new-to-me books that are now on their way to me thanks to Amazon!
Great Post! My 19 month old loves books and we have most of your suggestions in our rotation. We LOVE the Duck and Goose series too. The one on repeat right now is: Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin-I recommend it! Another favourite is: Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell. It is quick and has flaps to reveal the animals which my little one enjoys.
My 14 month old has loved “The Little Blue truck” book for months now. We also have Little Blue Truck in the city and LIttle Blue Truck Christmas (which I have packed away until next year). He also love Moo, Baa, Lalala by Sandra Boynton (as do I, its so funny) and her Going to Bed book that you mentioned!
Bryce also loves “I love you Stinky Face” and “Go to sleep, Little farm” when we go nuh nights 🙂
Lauren Brennan says
Great list! A lot of these are favs of ours as well. We also have a collection of “Little Pookie” books that are my favorites to read to/with them.
Laura @FitMamaLove says
I cannot get over how big girl Kaitlyn is in that picture of the two of you together reading! Did you ever do the wordless books that are paper-like, but indestructible? My kids loved those when they were so little that all they wanted to do was put the book in their mouth!
Brittany Dixon says
No I haven’t even heard of those books but they sound so cool! Going to google them 🙂
Great list! I’m always looking for new books and I’m surprised to see how cheap they are on amazon. I’m going to buy a few of them now. Thanks for the recommendation!
A few of our current favorites (Maddie is 21 months):
Giraffes Can’t Dance
Bear Snores On
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You
I have to second Wherever You Are My Love Will Love You. I have loved reading that one to my almost 3 year old son, and will start reading it to my daughter soon. I cried the first few times I read it to him:). I actually just book today to give my sister-in-law at her baby shower!
Woah so many typos! Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. And I bought it today. Yikes!
The series by Olivier Dunrea is THE BEST. Gossie, BOO-Boo, peedie, Ollie the stomper,…. there are A ton my girls both loved. Check them out.