Because if you want your child to become a strong reader, a reader who LOVES to read, it’s so important that you read to him or her daily starting when they are babies and toddlers.
See which board books are your child’s favorites. I’ve discovered that each child will have preferences. Some prefer photographs, some touch and feel books, and so on. My eldest daughter’s favorite was the familiar classic, Pat the Bunny, while my younger daughter’s favorite was a lesser known classic, The Big Red Barn and both LOVED the Usborne touch-and-feel board books like That’s Not My Puppy.
Whatever you do, just keep on reading to your kids! You’re doing exactly the best thing for your child’s literary life. Go, you!!
Download a printable list of the 15 best board books from this list.
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Best Board Books for Babies and Toddlers
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle PEEK THROUGH
I think this is the perfect board book — interactive, sequential, repetitive (that’s a good thing for young children) and beautifully illustrated. It’s a must own, best buy! (As is any Eric Carle book.)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
A classic for a reason — babies and toddlers love predicting what comes next while learning animal and color words. It’s a kid-favorite board book and one of the best you’ll read.
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz LIFT THE FLAP
Little fingers will love playing peek-a-book in this sweet lift-the-flap book about the baby’s body. It’s another must-own, toddler favorite, adult approved, best board book of all time. (Can you tell we love this book!?)
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I adore this book beyond reason and still have it memorized. It’s a beautiful story about saying good-night to everything in a room, and one of my kids’ all time favorite books ever. Start reading it when they’re babies– it’s a fun tradition!
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
A delightful rhyming adventure of animals on a boat as they prepare to go to sleep. It’s soothing, funny, and perfect for a bedtime story. (And another book I still have memorized 10 years later!) ANY book by Sandra Boynton is excellent — she’s such a gifted writer and illustrator.
A to Z by Sandra Boynton
Boynton’s delightful illustrations accompany busy animals — dinosaur dancing, elephant eating, and so forth. ALL Boynton’s board books are excellent and hilarious including this one for children learning the alphabet and animals!
Zoo: Baby’s First Cloth Book by Lisa Jones and Edward Underwood
Remember Baby Boo? IN this story, she and Daddy ride the bus to the zoo where they see many animals and hear the sounds that some animals make. “”Hello, giraffe!” says Baby Boo.” This book also has a striped cloth velcro handle and is washable. Colorful illustrations with simple text about animals is sure to make this first book widely appealing to young readers.
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt TOUCH AND FEEL
My firstborn loved this book so much it’s now in tatters. Why? It’s so fun to touch and feel!
Munch! by Matthew Van Fleet TOUCH AND FEEL
A humorous look at how animals munch, crunch, and eat! In this hands-on read-aloud that’s sure to be a favorite for toddlers, tabs and textures animate the madcap antics of a cast of frolicking critters whose mouths are made to do more than eat!
Guess How Much I Love You Here I Am! A Finger Puppet Book by Sam McBratey, illustrated by Anita Jeram PUPPET
Poke your finger through the Little Nutbrown Hare finger puppet to play hide-and-seek! Big Nutbrown Hare searches for Little Nutbrown Hare. “Where are you, Little Nutbrown Hare?” / “Here I am!” When you read that part, you or your child will wiggle the Little Hare’s puppet hiding in a tree, under a rock, near white flowers, and other places. Eventually, Big Nutbrown Hare is too exhausted to play any longer and rests. If you’re like me, you’ll love the playful interactive puppet, the sweet story and the loving relationship between caregiver and child. Will this be a new favorite for the readers on your lap?
My First Pop-Up Dinosaurs by Owen Davey
WOW! Each page opens to a sturdy, earth-toned pop-up dinosaur. The artwork is gorgeous, mesmerizing for readers because it POPS! Each of the 15 dinosaur names is written on the bottom right corner of the page as well as a phonetical guide to pronunciation for us clueless adults who don’t know how to say words like Coelophysis. (It’s SEE-lo-FIE-sis just in case you didn’t know.) This is the best first dinosaur book you could buy a child!
My First Baby Signs by Phil Conigliaro and Tae Won Yu PULL THE TAB
Talk about a must-own board book! Parents, you’ll want this for you and for your little ones. It will first teach then reinforce the important signs that kids ages 9 months, age 1, 2, and even age 3 can use to communicate with caregivers. Sign language helped my own children tremendously because they could always sign if they needed food, more food, milk, or if they were all done. This book’s colorful pages show eight essential signs that young children can use to communicate basic needs. All the pages have interactive pull tabs so you can see the child in the illustration do the sign’s motion. Fantastic!
Hop, Hop Bunny: A Follow-Along Book by Betty Ann Schwartz, Lynn Seresin PEEK THROUGH & MOVE
It’s hard to know how to even describe this unique board book. A sturdy cardboard rabbit waits on a ribbon for little fingers to hop in the opening between the red flowers to the next page, and on each subsequent page go through the holes. It’s great for fine motor skills because the openings aren’t too big, requiring some skill to put the bunny through.
Animals in Underwear ABC by Todd Parr
A whole new twist on the animal alphabet — animals in underwear! And, in classic Todd Parr style, your kids will love those fun, bright and bold colors.
Things That Go! (Indestructibles) by Amy Pixton, illustrated by Stephan Lomp
Chew-proof, rip-proof, and drool-proof, thee paperlike little books are light weight and indestructible. Learn all about vehicles on the road, in the air, in town, on the construction site, and on the sea. Bright illustrations and interesting information make this the perfect book choice for young readers.
Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise, illustrated by Christopher Denise
“It’s baking day! It’s baking day! It’s baking day at Grandma’s!” This catchy, melodic refrain appears throughout the warm-hearted story about bears going to grandma’s house to cook a special wintry treat. It’s absolutely a delightful story that will make you want to curl up with your own cup of cocoa and a piece of chocolate cake. (Recipe included on the back of the book.)
Llama Llama YUM YUM YUM! A Scratch-and-Sniff Book by Anna Dewdney
I LOVE that this book is scratch and sniff books! Llama Llama has toast, eggs and OJ for breakfast — smell the yummy OJ. (Got to love the illustration of the sleepy Llama Mama!) You’ll follow along with the hungry llama’s eating day and smell his pink juice at snack, the jelly on his PB&J sandwich at lunch, the pickle jar at the grocery store, spaghetti for dinner, and the special desert at night. YUM is right!
Good Night Buenas Noches by Meritxell Marti & Xavier Salomo
Firstly, I adore the black background with white text and simple images. Each image has a slider for kids to move the eyes from awake to asleep which kids will love. The text is basic — first in English, then in Spanish — making it easy to either read in one or the other language or both languages. With the illustration as reinforcement for your second language, you don’t need to read it in your first language at all. Kids will be able to infer “estrellas” with the illustration of four stars. “Good night, stars. / Buenas noches, estrellas.” Say goodnight to the moon, tree, stars, squirrel, cat, house, and baby. This is a well-done, spot-on beginning bilingual book.
Let’s Go, Bobby! A Trace-the-Path Book by Ruth Wielockx TRACE THE PATH
How fun is this book! Trace your finger on the pages as you ride along with Bobby on different vehicles. Zig-zags over a mountain, wiggle around a go-kart track, loop de loop in the sky, and much more. Even circle the moon! I love that these pages help kids strengthen fine motor skills.
Who’s Hatching? by Jennifer Sattler
Two dinosaurs find an egg and wonder what it will look like… big or tiny? red spots or green? smooth or spiky? What sort of dinosaur will come out? Get ready for a fun surprise twist — because it’s not a dinosaur that hatches. Delightful! Perfect for the toddler crowd.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
Here’s what my teenager said when she read this book. She said, “Mom, this book is great because kids can see themselves in it and see all the possible things they can do. This is representation.” It’s true. Incredible, beautifully illustrated African-American women fill the pages of this little board book. They are astronauts, leaders, singers, dancers, reporters, actresses, and painters; the trailblazers that show little girls many possibilities. This board book is perfect for young readers, too. For the most part, each page tells the name of the woman in the one sentence describing who they are. For example, “Augusta Savage sculpted toys when she had none.” And how can I describe Harrison’s captivating style of illustrations? They’re framable, expressive, and captivating, showing Harrison’s Disney animation roots.
Ditty Bird Children’s Songs
Read and sing along with the songs accompanied by the super cute child singing music for: The Wheels on the Bus, Five little Monkeys jumping on the Bed, If you’re Happy and you know it, B-I-N-G-O, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, and Five Little Ducks. Very exuberant!
Trucks and Friends by Sarah Gilligham TWIST & TURN
Get those fingers ready as you read these darling board books! Turn the face from happy and smiley when you’re driving the fire truck to surprised and open-mouthed when you see a crack in the sidewalk to fix with your cement mixer.
On My Beach PUPPET
by Sara Gillingham & Lorena Siminovich
Wiggle the crab puppet with your finger as he races over the sand, hides in tide pools, and digs a cool sandy bed. Adorable! (See also: On My Leaf, In My Meadow, and In My Tree.)
Farm Animals Look & Learn National Geographic Kids
Vibrant photographs with simple text introduce children to farm animals– cows, chickens, sheep, horse, and pigs. Younger children really love the photos in this book.
LOOK! by Edouard Manceau
PEEK THROUGH. Imagine a large board book with a rectangular hole in the middle. That’s this book. Each page asks the child to look through the opening to find certain things in the room — different colors, different shapes, things that make noise, and so on. I love it.
Who’s There? by Alain Crozon
LIFT THE FLAPS. Lift-the-flaps covering the egg, apple, wing, fin, or nesting doll and see what you can find. I love the colors, the illustrations, and the onomatopoeia on each page — buzz, buzz, chomp, chomp. The flaps appear sturdy enough to withstand lots of kid-tugging. Also by this author: All Shook Up!
You’re Tutu Cute LIFT THE FLAP
by Sandra Magsamen
Lift the flap to finish the questions in this girly, pink and ballet loving bear book. If you are a twirly, dancing girl then you’re “tutu cute” says the colorful book.
Peekaboo Pals 123 A Gareth Lucas Lift-the-Flap Book
It’s the Animal Antics race. Lift the flaps to count the animals as they race in numbered groups starting with 1 polar bear on a pogo stick to twenty turtles on a train, then 30, 40, 50 and 100. 100 rabbits on a rocket wins the race. Sturdy flaps and reinforced pages.
Textures: Touch & Learn by Katie Wilson TOUCH AND FEEL
I really love this board book! Travel to the savanna on a safari where you’ll see and feel animals. Feel the bumpy skin of a crocodile, the fuzzy side of a zebra, or the rough skin of an elephant. Each two-page spread gives readers a sentence or two about the animals or ecosystem. All the animals are labeled in large fonts. Beautiful earth tone illustrations match the setting harmoniously.
Watch Me Grow!
Babies LOVE books like this one with photos of real babies. It begins with a milestone at one month of age (“Watch me clench my fist!“) and continues until 24 months (“Watch me stand on my tiptoes!“). It’s really interesting for us adult readers to follow the developmental milestones of these children who lift their heads, stand, walk, and eat with a spoon. But kids will just love seeing the babies grow into toddlers.
Where’s the Ladybug? by Ingela P. Arrhenius LIFT THE FLAP
OOOH, I adore this lift-the-felt-flap book! Babies and toddlers will enjoy finding the bugs under leaves, flowers, and rocks in this brightly colored board book. Guess who you’ll find at the end? You in the mirror!
Picture This Shapes by Judith Nouvion
See the dots on the ladybug wings. Or the triangle of the green moth. The diamond made by a devil ray. Flip through these beautiful nature photographs to find the shapes.
Into the Forest by Laura Baker, illustrated by Nadia Taylor
Layered die-cut pages make the cover a remarkable 3-D image that begs to be touched and the pages turned. Feel the bumpy textures on each page of rich illustrations in orange, blue, brown, and green colors. Follow the squirrel as she searches for her mama. She scampers through the forest where she meets foxes, bears, rabbits in the different layers of the forest until she finds her family and her favorite tree. It’s a familiar story (finding mama when lost) yet feels fresh with the forest setting and unique stylized elements.
Lois Looks for Bob at the Park by Gerry Turley
LIFT THE FLAP
A kitty named Lois looks for her friend Bob who is a bird. Lift the flaps to search the park for Bob — is he behind the gate or beneath the bench? I like the clean illustrations and the sturdy flaps but I especially like the animals all named peopley names– Lois, Peggy, Derek, Susan, etc. That cracks me up for some reason! Also read Lois Looks for Bob at Home.
Global Baby BEDTIMES by Maya Ajmera
Babies and toddlers love photos — especially photos of other kids! In this sweet board book about getting sleepy and going to sleep, each page shows a baby from a different country. Some babies sleep in a cradle, some on their mama’s back, and some snuggle near a sibling.
Blue Boat by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone
Blue Boat is a brave tugboat who has a busy day sailing across the waves and rescuing a small sailboat. I love the simple text and the bright illustrations in this charming board book. This book is an engaging, must-own for 2- and 3- year olds and one of the best on the list.
A Surprise for Tiny Mouse by Petr Horack
TURN THE WHEEL. Mouse loves the weather of all the seasons except the splashy rain. See mouse run into the hole. Turn the wheel and see the rain stop so the rainbow can come out.
Black Cowboys by Kyla Ryman, photographed by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher
Predictable text (“This cowboy is . . . laughing“) and photographs show black cowboys and cowgirls riding horses in this well-done, diverse board book.
Bizzy Bear Knights’ Castle – SLIDE AND PULL
by Benji Davies
Baby and toddler fingers can pull down Bizzy Bear’s helmet, move his sword, help his horse gallop and more in this tour of Bizzy Bear’s castle activities. (See also: Bizzy Bear: Fire Rescue! and Bizzy Bear: Pirate Adventure.)
Take a Look, Bunny – SLIDE
by Liesbet Slegers
Pull out the page and watch as the little girl joins Bunny to play. They’re at the park, in a ball pit, in a sandbox and on a trampoline. I love the little girl reveal in each picture.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site – SOUNDS
by Sheri Duskey Rinker and Tom Llichtenheld
As the trucks get ready to end their day and go to sleep, make the sounds by pressing one of the five picture sounds when the book indicates. The backing up sound is quite realistic!
Peekaboo – LIFT THE FLAPS
by Giuliano Ferri
No words are needed in this sweet board book. Each page shows an animal covering his or her face. Lift the paws or hooves to see what animal it is. Peek-a-boo! Beautiful illustrations.
Wheels at Work: EMERGENCY by Cocorette
Lift the flaps to see the emergency vehicles at work. You’ll see an ambulance, police, fire truck, tow truck, and more emergency vehicles. Bright colors and appealing illustrations make this a favorite!
Lines Everywhere – CUT OUT
by Jimi Lee
A cut-out line in the book turns into all sorts of things — an arrow, a see-saw, chopsticks, a diving board, and so on. This is an amazing concept book that left me delighted in the beauty of a simple line.
Guess What? Flowers – LIFT THE FLAP
by Yusuke Yonezu
This book is so fun. Lift the flaps and the illustrations become something else! Daisies become a sheep. A marigold becomes a rooster. A dandelion becomes an actual lion. See if you can guess what each flap will uncover. (See also: Guess What? Sweet Treats.)
I Love You, Snugglesaurus – LIFT THE FLAP
by Sandra Magsamen
Do you stomp your feet to the beat and growl for fun and give hugs at night? Then you must be “my snugglesaurus!” Lift the flaps and feel the cover’s soft squishy heart. This author writes the BEST board books for babies and toddlers!
Squares – CUT OUT / PEEK THROUGH
by Yusuke Yonezu
Try to figure out what the colored shape could be. Turn the page to find out. The square could be a pot or a book. The rectangle could be a door or a block or a candle. The questions and peek through shapes make this an engaging book for toddlers who are learning their shapes. (See also: Circles.)
Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli
A wonderful work of art art – this is also literally an alphabet book block. Each thick page is a letter shape. Kids will enjoy looking at the next letters, and the vintage-style graphics in bold colors. Love it!
Cars Go by Steve Light
Cars make lots of sounds — the hot rod goes brrrr, the pickup truck goes bripit bripity, the taxi goes skreeek! honk! Extra-long pages give kids lots to see and hear!
Shhh! I’m Sleeping by Dorothee de Manfred
Two sets of 4-high bunk beds house an assortment of animals. Some are asleep but some aren’t — and they mostly all end up waking up for one to read them a bedtime story. Toddlers will think this is a charming book.
Everything Goes Good Night, Trucks A Bedtime Book by Brian Biggs
A fun, colorful basic book with lots of trucks good for babies and toddlers alike.
Crush It! by Erin Edison
This way awesome, interactive board book series that perfect for toddlers who love machines and explosions, especially boys. In this book, Crush It, we get to slide the lever, lift the flap, and pull the arrows in a scrap yard of broken down cars who get crushed and have parts removed. Also read: Blow It Up!
The Wizard of Oz Colors, Shapes, ABCs by Jeni Wittrock, illustrated by Timothy Banks
A Wizard of Oz series of basic concept board books for toddlers that shows cute illustrations that are not related in any way to the movie version. Girly, princess oriented.
Sports Illustrated Kids Football ABC by Mark Weakland
I is for Interception
J is for Jump
K is for Kick
Toddlers can look at the action photographs while learning football basics along with the alphabet.
Sports Illustrated Kids Football Opposites by Mark Weakland
Another basic board book with action photos and football basics like over/under and fast/slow.
Daddy Wrong Legs by Nina Laden
Oh this book is perfect for chubby little fingers! Flip the top or bottom and pair a daddy and his legs — and laugh at the funny daddies! (Like the bear daddy with frog legs – how silly!)
A Tree for All Seasons by Maryse Guittet
Even the littlest readers love to touch and interact with a board book. Turn the top part of the tree to see what it looks like in each season. Life the flaps to see who is hiding under the branches. Surprise~ it’s a bunny!
You Are My Baby: OCEAN by Lorena Siminovich
A book within a book, the interactive ocean-themed book is enchanting! The larger book shows the mommy animal while the smaller book shows the baby animal. A mommy whale and her baby calf, a mama turtle and her baby hatchling turtle, and so forth.
JoJos First Word Book by Xavier Deneusc
You can tell this book is from Europe because the text is in cursive. (Did you know Europeans learn cursive before print?) See Jojo and sister, Lulu, go through their day with objects labeled– getting dressed, having feelings, being in their house, going out and about, and with their animal friends. Large tabs separate the different sections in this sturdy board book.
Boo Bunny Has Lost Her Teddy illustrated by Jannie Ho
Bunny Boo must find her teddy bear before bed. Help her find her teddy but pulling the sturdy tabs on each page. Is Teddy in the laundry room? No, that’s Cat and Frog. Finally Bunny Boo finds her teddy under her bed. Just in time for sleeping.
Bedtime for Chickies by Janee Trasler
It’s time for bed but just as everyone is ready to tuck in, the chickies: are thristy, have to go potty, and need a story. You know how these things go! Very silly and fun.
Pottytime for Chickies by Janee Trasler
Silly chickies, the potty is not for splashing around, playing with toilet paper, or boinging off of towels, it’s for tinkling!
I Say, You Say FEELINGS by Tad Carpenter
You’ll love this lift-the-page flap book about feelings. “I say happy, you say . . .” lift the page to see “SMILE.” “I say grumpy, you say . . . ” flip down the page to see “FROWN.”
I Say, You Say COLORS! by Tad Carpenter
This I Say, You Say book is all about colors. Lift the flaps and see that when I say sun, you say yellow. Love it!
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
A gorgeous story of a little rabbit who WONDERS. When he hops through the grass, he wonders what it’s like to be green. When he hops over a rock, he wonders what it’s like to not move. As he snuggles up to his mommy at the end of the day, he knows he never has to wonder about who loves him.
Cowy Cow by Chris Raschka
This book isn’t actually a board book – but it reads like it is with simple text and pictures. It’s a fun book about Cowy Cow’s ideas — well, two of her ideas . . . like if you chew grass long enough, it might taste like a gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookie. She must be a genius.
We’re Going to the Farmers’ Market by Stefan Page
Read this simple board book before, during, and after your trip to the Farmers’ Market. See eggs, milk, cheese, fruits and veggies and take them all home to cook a feast.
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed: A BabyLit First Steps Picture Book
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, meet the plucky toddler Edgar the Raven! He’s mischievous, disobedient, and contrary. Dinnertime, cleanup-time, and bedtime are all met with one word: NEVERMORE! Such a fun twist for a board book!
Pretend & Play Firefighter
This sturdy handled board book with fire-related puzzle shapes to insert in each page. Your little firefighters will love this fun, interactive book.
What’s in Your Purse? by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Nathalie Dion
Your little ones will want to carry this cardboard purse / book all around. Open it to find questions and delightful lift-the-flap treasures in the purses of mom, auntie, grandma, sister, and you. Fantastic book to treasure for years!
Who Did It? (boxed set) by Ohara Hale
If you like potty humor, and I do, these short board books are must-owns! The titles are: Who Sneezed? Who Burped? Who Farted? Who Peed? Who Pooped? Curious kids observe each two-page spread filled with talking (and pooping, peeing, burping) animal characters. I LOVE these interactive and kid-friendly board books.
My First Book of Girl Power
From Wonder Woman’s ability to find the truth to Black Canary’s powerful voice to Batgirl’s keen mind, readers will find lots of girl power to admire in this unique board book.
My Birdie illustrated by Jessie Ford
A bird-themed board book that features pop-out, sturdy puzzle pieces, counting, and colors great for the youngest of readers.
Humpty Dumpty by Charles Reasoner
A fun retelling of this familiar nursery rhyme.
Odd One Out Big and Small by Guido Van Genechten
I like this board book so much because it’s interactive — it asks questions. The green alligator page asks “Who has lost all his teeth?” “Who is long and who is short” and “And who is ready to go to a party?”
Cook in a Book: Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book illustrated by Lotta Niemien
Follow the recipe directions in this interactive board book, pull the tab, turn the wheel, punch out pieces, and soon you’ll have poured, mixed, whisked, and cooked pancakes! Fun!!
DC Super Heroes On the Go! by Julie Merberg
This is a great board book for introducing super heroes to young children. It explains what super heroes do and why then asks questions of the reader. Some super heroes fly through the air, the book explains. Then it asks, “Can you fly? Can you jump really high?” (Are you picturing your kids doing this right now!? Me, too!) Or after explaining about the Flash, it asks how fast you can run. I really love this book, especially because of the questions that engage readers.