Want to stimulate your baby’s and toddler’s brain? Read to them! Any high-quality board book is brain boosting. These brand-new choices will give you plenty of options. I predict many will be new favorites.
I’m adding many of these to my big list of the BEST board books for babies and toddlers. (Which make great gifts as you know!)
Brand-New Brain Boosting Board Books
Hello, Love! by Taro Miura
Sure to be a new favorite bedtime book!! Discover how the animals say hello. The fish touch noses. The ducks tap beaks. What will the monkeys and elephants do? How about mommy and daddy? It’s a sweet book about love and friendship you’ll want to read and imitate again and again.
Little Plane by Taro Gomi
Gomi tells the story of Little Plane who flies over a city, a forest, and a dirt pile — he gets pretty dirty. Then, he gets clean and flies home. The illustrations are GREEN, bold, clean, and PERFECT. Here’s the thing…Taro Gomi completely understands the essence of engaging books for young readers. He knows that babies and toddlers don’t need busy illustrations and tons of text. He gets that kids like stories. I don’t just recommend this new book but ALL of his books — they’re kid-friendly wonderfulness.
You Can Be by Elise Gravel
“There are many ways to be a kid. You can be . . .” begins this brilliant book filled with acceptance for a child’s ways of being including funny, sensitive, noisy, artsy, caring, dirty, strong, studious, helpful, and scared. Gravel shows the possibilities in being yourself and feeling different emotions. Parents reading this book will express their parental love and acceptance of their children. Not only is the book lovely, but Gravel’s artwork is also captivating and expressive.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
When my teenager 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.” YES! 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 beautiful style of illustrations? They’re framable, expressive, and captivating, showing Harrison’s Disney animation roots.
The Chilly Penguin by Constanze von Kitzing
Ironically, Penguin is chilly. First, he knits himself a warm scarf to help. That doesn’t help. Then he builds a fire. He’s still chilly. He tries ice skating but no luck. Then he sees a friend. “What if my friend and I share a hug?” You can see where this is going, right? Hugs make Penguin all warm and snuggly! Isn’t this a sweet story? You’ll find the snowy illustrations absolutely charming, too.
Let’s Go, Ted! by Sophy Henn
Ted shows us how he uses his imagination. Why is he sitting in the box? Lift the flap to see that he’s actually in a speedy race car! On the next page, lift-the-flap to see how the cardboard box becomes a yellow digger followed on subsequent pages to become a submarine, a train, and a rocket shop. Kids will love the interactive flaps and imaginative play. I hope this inspires lots of cardboard box play!
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! Pair it with Rosa Loves Dinosaurs — see that next. Added to: Best Dinosaur Books for Kids
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs by Jessica Spanyol
This little girl of color loves her dinosaurs and is pretend playing with them defying stereotypes that only boys like dinosaurs. She makes a dino den, digs skeletons, reads books, goes to the museum, and even reads her dinosaurs a bedtime story. Fabulous illustrations.
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.
Read & Ride Magical Horses illustrated by Liz Mytinger
My daughter wishes she had this book when she was younger. Pull out the horse shaped books about four unique horses; horses like Cloud and Blizzard. Their books show the kindness and playfulness of each animal in a specific environment. Chesnut lives in the forest and Blizzard lives in an icy, wintery landscape. Three sturdy pages of the book have a pathway around each for the horses to gallop and trot. It’s a sweet hands-on reading experience for young readers to play and read.
Hug Me: Little Bunny Finger Puppet Book
Put your fingers in the soft (so soft!) bunny arms to wiggle and squeeze as you read this sweet story. “I hold your hand as we explore new places. Did you pick that flower for me?” Also in this series: Hug Me Little Bear
The British Museum ABC Early Learning at the Museum
I’ve actually been sent a fair amount of books like this with art from museums– and disliked them all. This book stands out above the crowd because the photos and illustrations are actually easy to identify and well-lit so kids can see what’s what. You’ll see things that are in The British Museum like F is for Feather and M is for Mountain and T is for Teapot. Scan the QR code to learn more about the objects. Also read: 123 and Colors.
Textures: Touch & Learn by Katie Wilson
TOUCH AND FEEL
I really love this 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.
Superheros Say Please by Morris Katz
Learn about manners with superhero examples! I appreciate how specific examples are used for each page as well as questions that involve the reader. For example, “When you ask for help, you should always say ‘PLEASE” just like Robin does. If you want someone to give you a cookie, what should you say?” Bright colors, a cool, graphic style layout, a comic panel on each page, and plenty of good life lessons make this an appealing read, particularly for fans of superheroes. Kids will learn about sharing, taking turns, saying sorry, please, and thank you, shaking hands, asking how someone else is as well as introducing yourself.
Tough Chicks to the Rescue! by CeCeMeng, illustrated by Melissa Suber
TOUCH AND FEEL
The chicks notice that Lulu the cow is stuck in the mud and take action to get her out. As you read the action-packed story, you’ll be able to feel a fuzzy chick, a wooly sheep, smooth binoculars, sticky mud (my favorite), and a smooth tractor wheel. It’s a pretty busy book both with words and images so I would suggest it for older readers, like toddlers and preschoolers.
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